I'm a slow learner.
When it comes to being a writer I'm the slowest.
If this were a road race, you'd be tempted to run back to where I was and poke me with something sharp.
As in it takes me years to do what other writers manage in a matter of months.
Like writing a novel.
I've been working on this one novel for about 3 1/2 years now. Awhile ago, I thought it was finished.
I was wrong.
I gathered it back to myself, edited, reworked much of it, then thought it was done.
I repeated this tedious process several times.
I was certain the novel was finished. Complete.
New York has proven I was, once again, wrong.
And returning to the novel I was so sure I had already finished felt a great deal like humble pie. Which is fine, I eat that stuff regularly. After so many years as a writer, I have no ego anymore.
So, this is where things were for me when I was invited to have dinner with a group of highly successful and very well published authors. (This was the weekend I spent riding on Lesley Livingston's coattails.)
Mostly we didn't talk about books, writing, or the publishing industry. If someone mentioned what they were working on, or asked someone about their new book, it was titularly--an aside--and the conversation moved swiftly past and onto more exciting topics like hockey, living in France, embarrassing relationship faux pas, and the time I punched out a mime in New York City.
They didn't treat me like a failing wannabe author (which is very much how I felt about myself).
So, when Guy Gavriel Kay turned to me and said, "Tell me what's going on with this book you've written." I pretty much barfed out the whole ugly truth. Years of writing and getting it wrong. Years of NY agents saying things such as, "You're a fantastic writer, but pass."
He nodded several times and said simply, "That's not at all unusual. It sounds like you're going to do very well someday."
That was it. That was all he said.
And it was enough. Because he was Guy Gavriel Kay. I read his stuff in when I was in high school. He has eleventy-hundred novels published. And he basically said, "You're normal. Keep going."
I'm a mess. My work is a mess. I continue to rework the same novel I've been working on since the dawn of humanity (it feels like), I've been rejected and/or ignored by some of the best in the business.
I keep going.
What keeps you going as a writer?