The long and winding path….

The rocky path. Skellig Michael, Kerry, Ireland

The long and winding path to publishing my first novel moved at a very rapid pace for me…if I don’t count the decades when my stories waited, in my imagination, for me to sit down and put them to paper. (In my case “paper” is always virtual…I have never written more than notes and ideas on actual paper).
Four years ago I decided I really could write a novel. I bought myself a laptop, sat down, put the foot rest up on the recliner in my bedroom and started to write. I wrote for a month and came out with a book…from beginning to end about four hundred pages. It really did have a plot, a beginning, middle and an incredibly cheesy end.
Then I panicked. Was this my only story? So, I wrote three more that year. Butterfly was number four. The difference with Butterfly was that I wrote for a specific market…romance. I played by the rules. I had a definite goal—to be published. Still, Butterfly is unique, my voice, my style, my imagination. Notice I said I wrote to a goal, not a formula. If anyone tries to tell you they have a formula and if you just follow the simple rules and fill in the blanks you will have a novel…thank them but don’t write a check for their workshop. If writing were that easy everyone would be published. If your story doesn’t beg to be told, hammer on the insides of your cranium until you let it out, haunt you until you are talking to your characters out loud in public (well, this might not happen to all of us…I might just be a little crazy.) then, it won’t keep your reader up at night either.
One of the questions I am often asked by unpublished writers is something like…isn’t it a terrible feeling to have an editor tell you to change, cut or delete a scene in your book…your baby? My simple answer is “no.”
I’ll tell you why. The business of publishing is just that…a business. You may be the next James Joyce, but an agent or editor doesn’t care unless he or she can sell your work and make a profit. That, dreamers out there, is the bottom line. This fact does not have to stop you from being a great writer, a creative writer.
If you really want to be published: write the best you can, finish what you start, know your market and write to that market and, most important, do it because it is your heart’s desire.
My books are available from my website Go to the “Books” page for the buy link.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gia
    Sep 25, 2010 @ 16:54:07

    Nice work, Clare. Thank you for opening up a bit of yourself to share with us. Having read this, I am now pretty sure I don’t have a novel in my head or heart; I have none of the symptoms! : ) But what encouragement and good advice you give to those who do. As for me, I am happy and content to be numbered among your readers. So keep the stories coming …


  2. clareaustin
    Sep 25, 2010 @ 22:54:46

    I just love getting a comment!


  3. Barb D.
    Sep 26, 2010 @ 02:52:12

    Thanks for sharing, Clare. Good to read about the process but, like Gia, I don’t have one in my head either. I love your writing and have enjoyed your published books. Looking forward to more!


  4. Mary
    Sep 26, 2010 @ 21:21:59

    I liked your process, too, Clare. Makes me wonder about those other manuscripts you wrote….ever going to try and get those published?


    • clareaustin
      Sep 26, 2010 @ 23:52:56

      Thanks Mary. The first book I wrote would likely get me sued. It is a not-so- veiled picture of a real place and some very real people. Some of it is not complimentary. The second book, Birdwatching, is a cute contemporary romance that needs some editing, but could be sold at some point. I am actually thinking it might be one I could serialize here…chapter by chapter…as a free read.


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