Last week I had the good luck to see my friend and writer, Jenny Milchman speak at a bookstore along with her friend and writer, Carla Buckley.
The format was loose and lovely. The readings left us wanting more. And the discussion, as it so often does in writer circles focused on the question that is becoming THE question of this century.
Indie vs. traditional.
Maybe it's a backlash to one-touch uploads that allow anyone with writing ambitions to have their books on Amazon in a matter of days, but I've seen (on social media) and heard (at book events) more and more authors who counsel patience.
Jenny wrote 11 novels prior to getting her first book published. Carla wrote multiple books as well. They both spoke of that time, in the pre-publication slog, as the dark days.
And yet, perseverance brought them both, finally, to book deals with Random House. Their other common factor was how deeply they believed those earlier books represented their best work, and yet, how happy they were those earlier books weren't published. Rejection made them dig deeper. Work harder. Push through to their best writing.
There's a lesson to be learned there. And, in our fast food, instagram, tweet-it-now society, it's not a popular one.
Maybe, the message in rejection isn't that you should go the self-publishing route. Nor do I believe the message is you should give up on your writer dreams, that you lack talent, skill or the ability to tell a story.
Maybe, it's just that you need to refine your skill. Aim higher. Not because you're trying to jump through publishing hoops, but because you really can do better.
That's a message I'm taking to heart.
Last year's book, The Virtual Life of Maisy Parker, is still out on submission. Last year, I was certain that book represented the best of my writing. This year, I'm certain the best of my writing can be found in my current project.
I know and have enjoyed lots of amazing work available in the Indie world, but right now, I'm holding out for a traditional path, if for no other reason than I think it will force me to do my best work.
Meanwhile, I'll be enjoying the stories told in Ruin Falls and The Deepest Secret and holding on to the inspiration provided by their amazing authors.