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What I Learned about Writing this Week…from Seeing a Friend Get Published

Okay, first off, please to be ignoring the poor grammar in the above title and in this sentence. I just couldn’t help myself.

Secondly, I’ve just returned home from a celebration honoring a guy you might have heard about before. His name is Aaron Pogue, and he is a published author.

Gods Tomorrow is a sci-fi thriller that will grab you with its first sentence and not let you go until its last one. Maybe not even then. If you haven’t already ordered your paperback copy or downloaded your digital copy, you should do that right now.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Excellent. You won’t regret it.

Now on to this week’s lesson. Tonight, I watched my fellow writer read to his public from an honest-to-goodness, yo-mamma-said-it-would happen, spiffy spankin’ new published copy of his book.

It looks and reads professional. It is professional. It’s the world of Aaron’s imagination, contained within turnable, bound pages. You can see it in a bookshelf. You can pick it up. You can flip pages and find lines of Katie’s dialogue and get so excited that you squeal. 😉

In my case, you can open the book to the title page and, right above Aaron’s signature, read the words “To Courtney, who’s next.”

Dear friends and neighbors, I like that. I like that a lot. I like that enough that I would frame and hang it, if it didn’t mean ripping a page out of Aaron’s newly published novel, which feels as though it would border on blasphemous.

I like it…but it also freaks me out a little. Because I know it’s gonna require lots of work on my part. Not to mention time, focus, determination, possibly shed tears, and likely spilled blood. I think of what more I need to do to get there, and part of me cringes.

But the greater part of me, the part that runs wild through light and shadow, the part that goes down to the pool and drinks deep of The Story that has sustained our craft for millennia…that part looks at what Aaron has accomplished, sees what indeed might be, and answers with an unequivocal yes.

Sometimes, I feel blocked. Sometimes, I feel discouraged and think there is absolutely no point in continuing to try. But you know what? That blocked, empty, frustrating thing is a lie. This can happen. I can do this — and you, dear inklings, can do it, too. Because we all go down to that pool, and in some measure, we all know what it is to drink from it.

Aaron’s not the first to show us what what can happen when you go to that pool so often, your feet wear a path into the grass. Aaron also won’t be the last. I want to be next. And I’m willing to bet that you do, too.

We can do this. And that’s WILAWriTWe.

(Oh! In case you don’t recognize it, the pool metaphor comes from Stephen King’s On Writing. The pool has guided my creative thinking for years and reminds me to focus and believe, especially during those times when the words will not come.)

Photo credit Julie V. Photography.

4 Responses to “What I Learned about Writing this Week…from Seeing a Friend Get Published”

  1. Julie says:

    Looks like you caught the author bouquet. Aaron was right to throw it at you. 🙂

  2. Courtney Cantrell says:

    Tee hee. Thanks! Now if only we knew who caught the author garter! 😀

  3. seth wadley says:

    He published this book himself! I don’t think this counts.

    • Courtney Cantrell says:

      Hi Seth! Thanks for visiting, reading, and sharing your thoughts. I used to hold the same opinions of self-publishing that you do: that a self-published novel is unprofessional and doesn’t count. I held that opinion as recently as 10 months ago — and I based it on my own experience of having read some truly unprofessional, self-pubbed novels.

      But two things have worked to change my thoughts on the matter:

      (1) the advent of e-readers such as Kindle, Nook, etc.
      If you want the details of why I think this is significant, let me know. But in short, e-readers make obsolete some of the services traditional publishers have provided. I’m no longer convinced that writers need abide by the rules of the gatekeepers.

      (2) watching Consortium Books at work and being part of the process.
      Aaron did not, in fact, publish this novel on his own. Just off the top of my head, I can list eight people — not including Aaron — who worked as a team to make this book happen. Several of those individuals have been professionally trained in editing and writing, and one of them is employed as a professional editor.

      I realize, though, that my experiences are meaningless to someone who hasn’t had the same vantage point. So…Seth, I would like to invite you to read “Gods Tomorrow” for yourself and then deliver a verdict as to whether or not it’s a professional product.

      Read the book, then decide if it “counts.”

      Thanks again! 🙂