We're excited to welcome author Jackie Lea Sommers back to the blog today. Jackie's debut Truest hit shelves earlier this month. Today she's going to share with us what made the most difference in getting herself from aspiring author to published author.
SHOWING UP by Jackie Lea Sommers
My debut Truest, a contemporary novel for young adults, was released at the beginning of the month—a dream come true, the result of years of hard work. I work for a university, and sometimes young writers will ask me for writing advice or what made the difference in the journey to publication. I always have the same answer: showing up.
I’m convinced that’s about 90% of writing a book right there: showing up to write, putting in the work. I have learned not to wait for inspiration to strike. Inspiration is abundantly available when I show up. Inspiration learns my routine and meets me there.
Often writers become paralyzed by the fear of failure, but the truth is that we will fail. We will. But if we keep showing up to work, day after day after month after year, we will have a finished manuscript.
Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” In other words: show up, show up, show up.
Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. We have to show up continually.
Stephen King wrote, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” He’s right: you’ve got to show up.
I try to write six days a week, and during the first draft phase, I try to add at least a thousand words a day to my manuscript. It’s slow-going, and it’s rough, rough, rough, but it’s also simple addition: a thousand words a day for few months will get you a working manuscript.
Writers are charged with telling as much truth as we can—yes, even novelists. It’s messy work. It’s hard and scary and takes so, so, so much faith. It’s trusting that if I sit down at my laptop over and over and over and over and over again, meaning and purpose and beauty and magic will emerge. There’s a lot at stake. A lot of reward too, if I can keep my head down and my heart open.
Writing is a long, arduous, difficult, but rewarding process, and almost nothing comes to me easily. I have to fight for it all, and I do that by showing up, day after day, sitting down, and doing hard work. As the proverb goes, you eat an elephant one bite at a time, and to be honest, it’s probably irrelevant where you start: toes, ears, tail. Bring salt.
But really, salt is grace, friends, and courage that looks an awful lot like fear. It’s easy to confuse the two, but courage is fear that keeps showing up to work.
Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.
Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads
About The AuthorJackie Lea Sommers is a young adult author who lives in Minnesota, where the people are nice and the Os are long. She is the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Her first novel Truest will be published by HarperCollins in September 2015.
Jackie grew up on a hobby farm but has made the Twin Cities her home for nearly 15 years after moving there to study creative writing at the University of Northwestern. She hates OCD, horcruxes, and Minnesota winters. She loves Jesus, Augustus Waters, and Minnesota springs.
~ posted by Jen Fisher @cupcakegirly