Hey there, lovelies!
I know it’s been awhile since I posted. I’ve spent the last few months buried under deadlines and finishing up coursework–so far this year I’ve gone to grad school, and written and edited THREE books, all coming out next year–and getting ready to head back to Nashville.
But in the slivers of space between, I’ve been reflecting a lot–about writing, publishing, advice–and I wanted to talk about a piece of advice that I know seems trite, but is honestly the best I can give. I’ll try to explain why.
Five years into my publishing career, I finally feel like I have my feet under me, and because of that, I’m often asked for advice.
When writers–aspiring, debut, and established–ask for insight, I always say, “Just keep writing.”
And I know that sounds like a very Dory thing to say, but the fact of the matter is, if you’ve written a book, and it doesn’t sell, and you want to keep going, you need to write another. If you’ve written a book, and it does sell, but doesn’t do well, you need to write another. If you’ve written a book, and it does well, you need to write another. All roads lead to writing.
And this is good, because when it comes to publishing, very little is in your control. But the one thing you CAN control is the book. The words you put on the page.
So when everything is going well, and when everything is falling apart, you have to keep writing. It is your tether in the storm, and your grounding when you might otherwise float away. It’s easy to lose focus, to get caught up in the successes and failures, but you must. keep. writing.
Two years ago, when The Archived first hit shelves, and my editor left, and my relationship with my then-publisher began to suffer, I felt paralyzed. It took all of my focus, but I kept writing. I finished The Unbound, but I could tell things weren’t going smoothly…I loved my series so very much. I loved my publisher, but publishing isn’t always run on love, or even sales. It was one of those times when the things out of my control were too many, and too complicated, and there was nothing I could do to stop the cracks from spreading.
It was so hard not to sit down and wait for the break.
My heart was breaking.
Instead, I kept writing. I had this pet project, Vicious, and I decided to finish that.
It sold to Tor.
The relationship with my YA publisher continued to fracture. There was nothing I could do.
I was given the chance to audition for a MG series at Scholastic. I landed the deal.
By the time my publisher officially cancelled The Archived series, I had two other houses that supported in me, believed in me. The MG series went on to sell nearly half a million copies. Vicious came out to starred reviews, a movie deal, and a growing cult following. It took me a little while, but I started another YA, and it sold to an incredible editor at an incredible house. Scholastic picked me up for another book. Tor bought a fantasy series.
Two years after my publishing path crumbled beneath my feet, I have eleven books on shelves or under contract. Three amazing publishers.
And I’m not going to lie. It still hurts, every single day. It’s not fair, and it’s not simple–publishing is rarely either–but it didn’t break me. And it could have. Looking back, it is not an exaggeration to say that my publishing career could have stalled, if not ended entirely, had I stopped writing when the cracks started, when the ground broke.
But I kept writing.
I keep writing.
Because I know that no matter what happens, I have more ideas, more books.
This is the part of the path we make. The only part we control. Do not sit down. Do not stand still.
Just. Keep. Writing.