My Writing Story in One Word

By Max Everhart (originally published on Suite T, August 1, 2014)

I first began writing seriously about nine years ago when I was working on a Master’s degree in English, and almost every day between then and now, I’ve received and read literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of tips on being a successful writer.

And almost all of them were good.

Almost.

But the best advice I ever read was from the novelist Richard Bach: “A professional writer is an amateur writer who didn’t quit.”

write

Indeed.

Perseverance, in my opinion, is the most important quality a writer can possess. Perseverance is the ultimate trump card, and it’s far more important than talent or luck or even connections in the publishing world, although all of those are wonderful and certainly helpful.  But perseverance is what is going to get a writer to sit down and write.  Everyday.  No matter what.

Perseverance, it ain’t sexy, but it’s powerful, especially if you are one of the chosen ones who have talent.

And here’s the best part: you’re not born with perseverance; it can be learned and developed.  The only real question you should ever ask yourself is, “How hard am I willing to work to become a successful writer?”  

go go gato
Mystery/private eye

Which brings me to my debut novel Go Go Gato I did some calculations and figured out that by the time a publisher accepted that book in October of 2013, I’d already written roughly 300,000 words of fiction, which didn’t include the four or five stories that had been published in small journals and literary magazines. (Note: I made no money on these stories).  However, the 300,000 words did include twenty or so unpublished short stories and one full-length novel that my wife, God bless her, correctly concluded was “not good at all.”

Now, all those rejections I received from editors, agents, publishers, and even my wife were painful, but the pain was useful.  It was instructive.  Those rejections forced me to dig deeper, and I came to a sobering conclusion: I wasn’t good enough, yet.  Those editors, agents, publishers, and yes, my wife, they were right to reject my work.  Just as I was right to work harder at my craft, to keep sending my best possible work out into the world, and now, on August 1st, my dream of being a published novelist will come true.  Only took nine years.  But it was worth it.

bottom line

Bottom line, we spend time on the things we value most, so if you want to be a successful writer, work hard, harder, hardest.

In a word: persevere.

Max enjoys hearing from fans and critics, so find him on the Internet. Just Google his name.

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12 thoughts on “My Writing Story in One Word

  1. Max, those are inspiring words to any writer, published or unpublished. PERSEVERE — I don’t believe any other word could describe the writer’s journey better. Yes, it might’ve taken you nine years to have your first published novel become a reality, but what you have accomplished during and after that time is admirable.

    Your second novel, SPLIT TO SPLINTERS, has been voted as a finalist for the coveted Shamus Award. Do you GET that? Your SECOND published novel! When I first heard the news, I must admit a smidgen (okay, a good deal more than a mere smidgen) of jealousy entered this writer’s veins. But I corralled that green-eyed monster and put it in its place. That’s my FRIEND and COLLEAGUE who is a finalist for the Shamus. Instead of being jealous, I became proud, proud to know you, and proud to be your friend and fellow wordsmith. Okay, I admit to retaining a bit of envy, but there’s a world of difference between that green-eyed monster and a little healthy envy. I want to “up” my writing and someday perhaps be recognized by my peers–as have you–for excellence in my chosen field.

    So, onward and upward my friend. And always, PERSEVERE!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s nice of you to say, Mike. You’re not alone when it comes to jealousy. Your success, I admit, makes me jealous. The Proud Bastards and the first two Mac novels being with big publishers. Honestly, that’s what I want, what I’ve always wanted, and you did it. So I guess I’m saying it runs both ways, man. Jealousy, shit it’s the main reason I every so often deactivate all my social media stuff: I get envious of other writers on there. Not proud of it, but there ya go.

      Confession, I’m kind of full of shit with this post because I haven’t been writing consistently in almost a year. I wrote 18,000 words of new novel, one I really like and think is pretty original, but I stop and start. Blah, blah, blah.

      Anyway, cheers for the compliments, but I’m much better at accepting (and usually agreeing with) insults.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, Max, people (a LOT of people) have told me all my life that I don’t accept compliments well. Usually if I receive a compliment, I’ll brush it off with a deprecating joke. Also, the first two Mac novels were published by a reputable mid sized publisher that happens to be affiliated with a big one. And don’t forget, they dropped me after those two books. I don’t mind admitting I was deeply hurt by that, and my self-esteem as a writer plummeted.

        In my opinion, OF BLOOD AND BROTHERS is the best thing I’ve ever written. What have I gotten for several years of research and writing? $250 measly bucks. I still believe it deserves to be published by a major house, but will it ever see the light of day again? Who knows?

        Hold on to the knowledge that your work has earned recognition from your peers. Being a finalist for a major award in the industry is something to be proud of. And Eli Sharpe remains one of my favorite characters.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good advice, Max. I’m glad you feel your time was not wasted. It takes work and dedication to learn any profession. It takes years to make a surgeon and some are better than others. The arts are more iffy and there is no certainty that a writer will become a good writer. I do think talent combined with determination is a winner Life is all about perseverance anyway because there will always be obstacles so why not admit that. Most of the men I know do a lot of counting and calculating. I applaud you for knowing the numbers of words and years etc. Personally, I feel an obsessive attraction to words and writing.. I also feel obsessive about reading. Writing has me captive. Did I seize it or did it seize me? Who knows. Congratulations on what is happening with you. I know you are up for an award. What else is going on? I like to hear about people attaining mastery in their work.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Nice thoughts, MJ. But see above comment I wrote to Mike. I’m full of it: I worked on my new book yesterday and today, but before that it had been weeks since I fooled with it. Been watching a lot of TV and goofing off. Takes me longer to grade essays at school, too. I did go on some job interviews for new teaching positions, but otherwise, I’ve been doing very little aside from playing with my son, which is never a waste of time.

      That said, my new book is the first thing I’ve ever written that I can confidently say is original, whatever that means.

      Thanks for reading my new/old post. Cheers.

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  3. Absolutely. That’s why I keep the Boudreaux’s Butt Paste on my desk. I haven’t mastered dictation so if I’m going to write, the bottom must be in the downward and locked position. I do’t actually use the butt paste, just keep a tube on the desk for inspiration.

    Keep on writing, Max. A Shamus nomination for your second novel. I think you might have some talent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh, I’m way too familiar with Butt Paste. Used it on my son hundreds and hundreds of times. Quick thought: real men change diapers. Frankly, I was happy to change his poopy and pee-pee diapers. Made me feel somehow more connected with him. Besides, I am a control freak, and I didn’t like the way my wife changed him–her technique was lacking–so I did it 90% of time.

      But Kait, thanks for saying I have talent. I don’t agree, which, in my mind, was the subtext of this post. I always say–and I mean it–that others have luck, talent, or connections to fall back on; I don’t, so I work. Or I used to work. Lot of stops and starts with the new book. Guess it’s an extended midlife crisis.

      Speaking of jealousy, I’m jealous of you, too! Your Hayden Kent series has a great following. Would love to have that many readers. Cheers!

      Like

    2. Duh, you really think so, Kait? Max’s second novel is a finalist for the Shamus! I would be strapping myself down in bed every night so I wouldn’t fly through the roof! Yeah, like Max said, I made a few bucks by being published by one of the Big Boys. But so what? Money gets spent, or wasted on booze or whatnot (not to say I’ve blown money on booze, God forbid!). But to be honored by having your SECOND novel voted a finalist for the Shamus Award–I would trade all the (few) bucks I made to be so recognized by my peers. Shall we all keep keeping on!

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  4. I know we are all congratulating Max for his work right now and justly so. I am hoping he will get a marvelous win. Nevertheless Michael I have read most of your work and I did it because I thought it great. Being in the midst of Of Blood and Brothers, regardless of what you were paid, I have made a small round dot with my pen on the portions of sparkly prose just like I did when I read Remarque. Money is a necessity in life but books like your civil war ones are books that take a chance with dialogue which we all know is supposed to be used once and then gone back into regular speech. You did not do that. And it works. I was keeping this for my review and it will be in there regardless. Great books do not necessarily arrive on the scene at an appropriate time, but their existence extends far into life for readers. I watch carefully how you do it and when the time is right I will be able to do it too. As for what I have written, it is too painful for anyone to read. At some point it will be about a subject that all will finally realize exists. In the meantime I will have some fun after all this angst and write some things that have a combination of ………………. well, you’ll just have to see. I send my heartfelt praise to you guys and know you will write more and win more. Do what you love, do it with all your heart, do it like you were born to do it. Because you were.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, thanks MJ. It was never about the money. I just wanted to emphasize the absolute disparity, or perhaps better stated, crapshoot, that the craft of writing is. I (and I’m sure most other readers) have read such crapola that is such repetitive BS that sometimes I grow tired of it and must speak my mind. That in no way makes me right–maybe that stuff (Fifty Shades of Whatever, ad nauseam) deserves to be placed with classics penned by Twain, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Remarque, and (add your own favorite author here). It is what it is. I can cry that the average reader (and God bless them for being readers!) has been dumbed down so much that they wouldn’t recognize good writing from bad if it slapped them in the face. Who am I to judge? But alas, I do at times find myself crying in my beer. 🙂

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  6. Writing is a crapshoot and as you say, it isn’t about the money. I don’t think Fifty Shades should be near the authors listed above. It is a boring piece of work. Uh, work is probably the wrong word to describe it. I made my decision after reading some junk. I’m done with it. Taboo subjects can be well handled so they aren’t off the list. I am going to move along dong what I like best, reading well written books and writing. That will lead wherever it leads. I have not given up on Of Blood and Brothers, as it, along with Proud Bastards gave me hope that there are modern writers writing great books. I write every day so at some point I will arrive at Max’s formula. I enjoy mysteries so they are on my list. I do wish you guys would stop kicking yourselves for misdeeds imagined. Come on, everyone’s human! Except Kait, who seems to have it all handled -:)

    Liked by 1 person

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