This is for Jack, who asked me the same question I have been asked many, many times. And, as you will read, I am “guilty” of asking that same question. Nothing wrong with the question. So, here are some of MY answers. Hope this helps.
GETTING YOUR BOOK OUT THERE!
BY BRUCE HENNIGAN
“I want to write a book. How do I get it published?”
Response from an acquisition editor:
“I have lost track how many times I am asked this question on a weekly basis. It is very difficult for me to keep my eyes from glazing over during the ensuing conversation, mostly one sided while the person tries to tell me why they want to write a book, usually about their life, and then proceeds to tell me about their life.
Let me be honest. It’s not that I’m not interested in the other person. I am a people person and I love to hear life stories. It’s just the context of the conversation in a setting of a desire to write a book. Let me be clear. If you want to write a book, then WRITE! Save the storytelling for the book! I’m not trying to be nasty, it’s just we only have so much time in this world and some of those hour long monologues represent an hour of my life I will never get back.”
That sounds pretty arrogant, doesn’t it? These thoughts come not necessarily from me, but from the person I asked that question to. He was a chief acquisition editor for a major publisher and I did indeed make his eyes glaze over. Fortunately, I had enough self awareness to realize what I was doing to this poor man. But, in my defense, it was his day job!
Now, I get that question a lot. I try my best to be patient and not give in to the glazing of the eyes. Most of the time, I succeed but I have learned a great deal about the best way to answer that set of questions. So, to save myself some time and effort, I have written down some thoughts for those who would like to write a book and get published.Read the rest of this entry →
Tip #3: You Don’t FIND time to write, you MAKE time to write!
My good friend Marilyn once asked me how I found the time to write. I simply replied, “you don’t find time to write, you make time to write.” This wasn’t a lesson I learned from John Maxwell. This is a lesson self taught. I mentioned in a previous post about being a dreamer versus making your dream come true. As I pondered on HOW I could make a novel come true, I stumbled across NANOWRIMO which begins TODAY.
National Novel Writing Month helps you fulfill that DREAM of finishing a novel in one month. When I first learned of this method, I tried it out. I failed. But, the next July after completing “Conquering Depression” with Mark Sutton in the summer of 1999, I set aside the month of August to write a novel. I started it on day one and finished it on day 31. That novel became “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”.
Since then, I have learned these powerful lessons:
Make Writing a PRIORITY not only for yourself, but your family unit. Read the rest of this entry →
There is a memory I cherish of a young boy, age 8, walking across a dusty, hot playground. I was that boy and I led a single file line of my classmates towards a small, wood framed house perched on the back corner of our elementary school property in rural Blanchard, Louisiana. It was an old house with worn wooden steps and only one door and one window. As I walked up the stairs, my heart raced and my hand trembled. I opened the old, wooden door and a warm, redolent breeze flowed over me. From inside this house the fragrance of paper and ink and glue; the very blood of books filled my nostrils and I sighed in utter contentment. Here was the universe: here was magic and fantasy; here were worlds and geographies for me to explore; here were men and women and children from the past and all their brave and terrible deeds; here were Books.
In the corner sitting behind a wooden desk was a slight woman with short, dark hair and a ready smile. Mrs. Asbhy stood up and motioned to a nearby shelf of our local branch of the Shreve Memorial Library.
“Bruce, I found a special book for you. You should try it. It is science fiction.”
It is a dream I have had since I was 13.
My first published work didn’t occur until I was 40.
But, during the intervening years I wrote over 100 plays performed by the drama team at my church.
Now, I have two fiction books published by Realms.
I have a book on depression that has been in circulation since 2001.
There is a possibility my co-author and I will have a new book deal today and possibly a book series to write.
I have tasted rejection too many times to remember. I have a framed letter of rejection signed by Isaac Asimov from a story I submitted to his magazine in 1973.
I have self-published two books.
I have been “released” by my latest publisher.
I have been through two agents and I am now no my third agent.
I have been duped, hornswaggled, conned, ripped off, and taken advantage of by more publishing schemes than I can remember.
But, I still have my day job and I plan on keeping it.
So, I am sitting here on the balcony of a condo overlooking the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico wondering why I keep doing this. Below me, an eager, fresh faced kid has scrawled in the white sand “Don loves Joanne” with the word “loves” represented by the image of a heart pierced by an arrow. Beside those huge words is a fading admonition from another love stricken person, “Bye Retta”. The letters are barely visible having been filled in by the fierce winds of the last three days.
I am very much aware that my work as a writer is much like the latter. It will fade with time and no one will remember a word I have written after I am long gone. Although I am thinking positively, there is the distinct possibility that every word I have ever written will be gone shortly after I am gone. My name may never grace the halls of fame along with Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury or Mark Twain.
Why do I keep writing, then? Why do I lose sleep at night constructing the latest story. Why do I watch people and try to discern what makes them tick so I can create a new character? Why do I sit in misery trying to plan my next step now that I have been “released” by my publisher? Why, why, why?
Reason #1 — I realized early in my life that God had given me a gift, or a curse, however you look at it. I can’t not write. And here is the thrust of what God has shown me. I have NEVER been able to be successful as an author by writing the story that I wanted to write. I have only been successful when I wrote the Story that God wants me to write. This has required me to redefine the word “successful”. It’s not about money. It’s not about fame. It has to do with Reason #2.
Reason #2 — At the recent Platform conference, I was pleased to hear over and over again that if a person focuses on changing people’s lives, they will be successful. Touching one person’s life in a positive way can NEVER be reduced to a dollar figure. My good friend Chan told me once, “I don’t always get to be the closer. But, I will put a rock in their shoe.” There are times I get immediate feedback from something I have written and I learn that someone’s life has been altered in a good way. But, I will never see the end result of that tiny alteration. Only God knows how that ripple will change a person’s life way down the line. With our depression book alone, Mark Sutton and I have received countless emails telling us the book “saved my life”. You cannot put an earthly value on that! It has eternal value only. And, my friend, when I realize this, I can only rejoice that God has used something that came out of my brain to change the course of someone’s life. But, that “something” didn’t happen in a vacuum and that brings me to Reason #3.
Reason #3 — Every successful endeavor that has occurred in my life was totally unplanned. In fact, the plans I had for my life have never come true. But, the plans that God has for my life have come true. Over and over and over. Time and time again, doors opened; windows opened; opportunities fell into my lap; “coincidences” happened. And, when I followed the voice of God, my endeavors have always been a success. I never planned on having depression. God turned my experience into a book that has changed lives. I never planned on writing drama. God took those stories and changed people’s lives. I never planned on having such deep doubts about Christianity that I would become an apologist. God has taken my teaching and has changed lives.
Why do I write? Because it is God’s mission for my life. And, as long as I seek to be a part of the Work that God has for me to do Today, then I will continue to be “successful”. Successful, not in the world’s view, but in God’s view. I have always said that a person should seek to be involved in something that will outlast his life; something that will have eternal consequences. I am hoping that one day, when I am sitting at the feet of Jesus in the Beyond someone will put a hand on my shoulder and thank for me that play I wrote or that book I wrote or that blog post. And, there is no earthly reward to even begin to compare to that!
Tell me — Why Do You Write? Why Do You Indulge in Your Passion?