An author friend of mine came to me the other day and posed a sensitive writing question that her husband had raised with her the day before, namely: “How long are you going to keep trying to get published before you give up?”
Now before we all jump in and scream at the guy for being an unsupportive #$&@ to even ask such a thing, I guess on one level, he has a point. I mean, in his mind, he has been watching his wife put in hundreds of hours of effort and, thus far, to no avail (well, publishing wise, not writing wise, she has completed three manuscripts). She has had an agent for a couple of years now, but he hasn’t been able to place her work…so she has (with her friends’ support) continued to try and write full-time while juggling being a mum (and I know all about how hard that juggling process can be!)
At first her husband was really supportive, especially once she landed an agent, but, as the years passed and the rejections mounted up, I could tell he was starting to get antsy. I’m not sure whether he doesn’t want his wife to waste her time or whether he thinks she should use that time on a ‘real paying job’, but I do know that he finds all the angst that accompanies his wife’s ‘hobby’ (his words, not mine) unnerving. I think he worries that all his wife’s hard work, anxiety and pain will never pay off.
I’ve tried to tell my friend that there are countless examples of great writers who took years to get published and many who then went on to be very successful…but, she countered, exactly how long should I wait before I give up on the dream? 5 years? 10 years? 20? I couldn’t answer – except to point (rather lamely) that there are a multitude of ways writers can now get their work out into the public domain. My friend is, however, a traditionalist and is hanging out for a traditional publishing contract. I also suspect she feels that her husband won’t really accept anything else as ‘success’.
So how would you answer my friend? How long should she continue to dedicate the hours in pursuit of her publishing dream? Would your answer be any different if she had been published before (perhaps many years ago) and was still finding it hard to get the next contract? What advice would you give her (or her husband:)!)…