Advice for all aspiring writers from Laurence O’Bryan
November 22, 201112:29 pm
The Easy Road to Writing Success
I recommend the feeling to any aspiring writer. Or to anyone in fact. It’s the recognition you’ve always wanted and the dream you never told anyone about. Ok, I hear you think, how did he get here? Was it really that easy?
The answer is yes, depending on how you view the small matter of time. My journey went like this:
In 1998 I bought a book on screenwriting. It advised writing a book first.
I started writing a novel in the middle of 2000. I’ve written almost every day from then until now. I reckon I’m a slow learner. You’ll probably pick it up a lot faster.
I mean who takes that long to learn how to write?
I finished my first book in 2005 and started on The Istanbul Puzzle. My first book has never been published. That’s for the best. I sent it to a paid for editor in 2006 for a review. I had to sit down as I read it. I couldn’t write for a week after. Maybe it was because I could only afford her cheapest review service, but she certainly didn’t spare the knives. Though why she went on for so many pages I still don’t know. A perverse generosity, I suppose.
But from 2005-2010 I took every point she’d made and started to work on my writing. I read about 50 books on the craft of writing, attended conferences (Winchester do a great one) and night courses. Then I started getting up at 3-4AM to write. I’ve been doing that ever since. Don’t even ask what that does to your life.
Then I joined Authonomy to see what Harper Collins were doing online, but I couldn’t submit anything as I’d already sent The Istanbul Puzzle to agents and it didn’t feel right having it on Authonmy at the same time. But I read everything on the site and on every other writer’s site I could find. Eventually my wife wanted to get me an addiction counsellor. But she never gave up on me.
Then I saw an email saying Authonomy were running a one day workshop in the Harper Collins building in London! Bliss! To get inside a publisher’s building! The fairy castle was opening its doors!
So I asked my credit card company to raise my credit limit, booked a cheap flight, took a bus and came to London.
My every expectation was exceeded. One of the best things about the HC building is the books. It’s a modern building with glass and busy desks, and around each desk and in each corridor and piled around the walls there are books. Thrillers and crime novels and books of maps and romance fiction and serious tomes and Tolkien and Cecelia Ahearn and Paul Coelho and all new and shiny and better than any bookshop by far. I was in heaven. The smell is amazing. I’ve never smelt anything like it. It’s the smell of paper and publishing joy! I better stop now.
And the serious stuff was good too. I attended workshops all day. And it changed my life. I met authors and agents and editors and publishers and nice receptionists and other writers and it was all brilliant.
I asked one editor (I never spoke to this lady again) if offering to name your next-born child would help get a publishing contract. She fixed me with a frosty glare and turned away. I deserved it. Then, over coffee I met a friendly HC editor who said “Why don’t you send me what you’re working on?”
And then I went for a quick drink! And later I rediscovered the old prayers I still don’t know whether to believe in or not and over the next few months I recited them. Just in case.
I went to that event in December 2010. By the end of February 2011 I had an offer to publish three books from Harper Collins.
And I still wake every day with a good feeling. And I’ve had to edit within an inch of my life (don’t even think about getting published if you don’t want to work hard) and I’ve worked on my blog site and on Twitter posts at all hours.
But this is the best thing that has ever happened to me! I won’t tell you why, sad stories are grist to every mill, but if I die tomorrow I will say to myself well done, sir, you got where you wanted to go.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you you won’t do it, that you can’t do it, believe in your self. No one can stop you dreaming. Don’t give up. Dreams happen. I’m proof.
Good luck with your writing or whatever else you’re working on. Life, for me, really is like the labours of Hercules and though I’ve not got home yet, I’m well on my way and all of it on the easy road to writing success.
What a great tale – you persistence does you credit.
I, too, was on authonomy – and couldn’t be more pleased to see someone find success that way – well done.
Many thanks for your kind comment. I am, weirdly, a perfect example of the power of persistence!
I wish you well with your writing. Do come over to my blog and ask any questions about writing or marketing your writing and I will gladly respond, and through this column too, if you want. All the best. L
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