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The Hardest Thing You'll Ever Love

I've heard it said that if you fiind something you love, you'll never work a day in your life...not exactly.

I always loved the idea of writing, and the first time I sat down to write, I was fueled by so may exciting story ideas. I was exhilarated and nervous as I imagined effortlessly giving form to the stories that had swirled in my head for years. I was sure the words would flow and that my story would blossom.

And then I sat down at the keyboard.

A funny thing happened between my brain and the computer screen. The words on the page did not match that wonderfully perfect story that I’d been turning over in my head for months, maybe years. It had never occurred to me that writing would be hard.

Still, fueled by the ideas that just wouldn’t let go of me, I dove into the first manuscript. And the more I wrote, the more I realized writing is a tough profession. In those early days, the words didn’t flow and the raw story didn’t always connect. Undaunted, I joined a critique group and attended the meetings of my local writers' groups. I even tackled Dwight Swain’s "Techniques of a Selling Writer." Slowly the dots in my story started to connect, and my writing became better. Those first manuscripts were rejected, but rejection forced me to work even harder at my craft.

“Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.” Thomas Edison’s quote really struck home. Inspiration or that initial spark of ideas is very exciting. It is what gets us to that first blank page and dares us to begin typing. But in the end, creating a finished piece takes lots of hard work, perseverance and time at the computer.

I would have loved to hit pay dirt that first year. Who wouldn’t? But I learned I would have to earn my first sell. I kept attending conferences, pitching agents and editors, and sitting in on numerous workshops to hone my skill. Finally, an agent expressed interest in one of my manuscripts, but quickly told me it would need major rewrites. Thrilled for the advice, I spent the next eight months rewriting the book. She agreed to represent me and nine months after that sold the book. The path to my first sale took five years.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Outliers" refers to the 10,000-hour rule. What makes some of us good but others great? In a nutshell: practice makes perfect. I had started writing in 1994 and I didn’t hit my 10,000 hours until about 2004 or 2005, which coincidentally was about the time I began to feel comfortable with my writing. By 2005, I had already sold five books.

So start typing. And remember a blank page is a lost opportunity.

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