It seems like there are authors who come out of nowhere, get bazillion dollar book deals, make bazillions more dollars after the book comes out, and ride off into the sunset of legends.
We’ve all heard of Stephenie Meyer dreaming up Twilight, dashing it off in three months, and the rest is history.
It’s tempting to think all it takes is an idea and a wisp of effort. Very tempting indeed.
The truth is a lot more banal: It takes a lot of work.
Stephenie Meyer is about as close to an overnight a success story as I’ve ever heard – she hadn’t written before Twilight, and three months is not a long time to spend on a novel.
But she still had to write the book. And as anyone who has written a novel knows, it takes a whole lot of hours, whether those hours are compressed into three months or thirty-six months.
For most of us mere mortals, many of us are too old to be wunderkinds, we will not make any “best novelists under X” age list, we may be arriving at writing late, and many of us spent a lot of time writing novels that didn’t work before we even approached writing something that did. Any success we’ve earned will be hard-earned rather than serendipitous.
And it’s tempting to look at the people who spent less time than we did and begrudge them their seemingly “instant” success.
The thing is, there aren’t any shortcuts in life, least of all in writing. Books don’t just spring forth fully formed. Becoming a writer is a process and a journey and the result of, at minimum, a lifetime of reading, not something that falls from the sky. Books aren’t written overnight.
Every endeavor worth doing takes time.
Each journey is our own, and we’re all the better for it. Rather than wishing for lightning to strike quickly, it’s better to enjoy seeing it flash in the distance and know that our time will come.
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Art: “Prophetess Anna” – Rembrandt