Wise Words for Writers: The Optimist in Us.

People have been talking to me lately about publishing.  People have been talking a lot.  Some have offered articles and insights.  Some ask, what all is involved?  Isn’t it hard?  I feel qualified at this point to catalogue how difficult it is these day to get anything in print, and I probably don’t know the half of it.

The shorthand of it all would be what one well heeled author told me.  These days, the odds of finding a good agent, connecting with a good house (publisher) and obtaining a good contract would take lottery level luck.  (And some wonder why so many have turned to e-publishing).

But then I thought:

How many NOs did King get before he got his first Yes!  Everyone knows Rowling sent  Harry Potter to Scholastic as a last gasp.  Legend says the only reason Twilight got in print is because an editorial assistant put it on the wrong pile.  And then there is my favorite story:

Young Mister Toole wrote A Confederacy of Dunces and got turned down by absolutely everyone.  He committed suicide (for complex reasons, I am sure).  Eleven years later, legend says his mother was instrumental in finally getting it published, and don’t you know?  It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

So, is it difficult?  (I respond with glib and sarcastic laughter).  But then I thought of another little story.

There once was a man who  was a better war correspondent than a soldier.  He served in the military for a time, but finally concluded that the only thing he might be really good for was public service (no comment).  He ran for office, got elected and served for a time.  The people threw him out in the 30s. He started to sound too harsh, almost war-like.  Then the war came and they begged him to come back and in the end he spit in Hitler’s eye.  He had something to say about that journey, and it rang a little bell in my publishing head when I read it.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.   -Winston Churchill 

Is it difficult these days to get anything in print?  Absolutely.  It is nearly impossible.  But did you ever think the challenge of it is precisely what makes it so much fun?

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