"Learning to be prolific would be high on my list of the most valuable writing skills a professional writer can have." – Brent Hartinger
The quote above, which Brent Hartinger recently made on his Facebook page, landed in my newsfeed at the most convenient time – a time when I was yet again questioning my future as a writer. As I’ve documented plenty of times on the blog, my journey has been stalled by rejection after rejection, even after signing with a reputable and successful agent. (That gets you further into the publisher’s door, not necessarily a seat at the table right away.)
So while I waited (and waited and waited) for my first novel to sell, I wrote a second one. While I waited for the second one to sell, I wrote a third. While I waited for the third one to sell, I started several more. As usual, I was doing quite well with those stories before eventually hitting a wall and taking a step back. Some of those stories have remained unfinished manuscripts, which I’ve also talked about here.
This spring, I was floundering a bit. I’ve never doubted that I would succeed at this writing thing eventually, and I don’t mean that in an egotistical way; more in a way that I’ve never felt more content than when I’m writing, so I’ve taken that to mean it’s what I’m destined to do.
Anyway, I say all that to say all this: Brent’s words about being prolific hit home. I could’ve stopped after that first book (or second or third) and just waited around for them to eventually land in the right editor’s lap. But I don’t want to do that. I cannot do that. Those books may never sell, or they may all sell. But I still have stories to tell. Different stories, to boot.
My first three books are all Young Adult fiction, a little ironic since I hated being a teenager. But I feel at home in that genre for whatever reason. Home, though, isn’t a place we should always stay. So to combat my most recent dry spell, I’ve begun venturing out. My most recent unfinished manuscript is a contemporary fiction piece instead of YA. And it’s an unfinished book that I surely hope to complete.
Meanwhile, in a true departure, I have just completed something brand new and very exciting: a children’s picture book manuscript. I’ll share more about it soon, but there’s a little on my Books page already. It was something very new for me but loads of fun to write – a story that I feel is an important lesson and – I’m told – a gap that is needing filled in children’s literature. We’ll see.
So I echo Brent’s advice about being prolific and offer this in addition: Be diverse.