12 reflections on this writing life.


1. Patience, passion and persistence are essential if you intend to become a published writer. Perseverance is as important as talent. These ingredients will take you from impossible to inevitable.

2. The literary world’s a small place. The person starting as a junior assistant today could be a director in five years. Be nice to everybody. Publishers talk to each other.

3. Nobody within the publishing industry knows what the next “big thing” will be. Literary agents aren’t always right. (I can attest to this in two words: Harry Potter, which got rejected several times).

4. One of the best things about this writing life is that the learning process never ends. Gather, study and question everything. These are the constants in progression. A steady stream of new ideas is necessary to improve our work.

5. Study, but avoid comparing your material to other authors. Some books become bestsellers for no reason you can fathom.
Try not to imitate the writing flair of writers you admire. Their styles are unique, as yours is. Instead of emulating, focus on making the manuscript clear to readers.

6. Other books you love will fail, also for no specific reason.

7. Give manuscripts time to settle. They’ll change as you learn and develop new skills.

8. Showing and telling rules. We need both. My decree on this directive is: Don’t tell when you should show and don’t show when you should tell…

9. Your work won’t be for everyone. Writing is subjective, and what one agent rejects, another might accept. A bad review is one reader’s opinion.

10. Adverbs and words ending with ‘I-N-G’. It’s all about applying what’s needed to make your words clear for the reader. If they’re required, include them.

11. Too many long sentences are risky. Ditto short sentences. Alternate to enhance the reader’s experience.

12. Several friends and family will never understand what you do. Trust yourself. Have faith in your writing vision.