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March 07, 2009

Comments

Maya

Each of those paths have a disadvantage to them, and I think the best route is one where you sell -- not necessarily a bestseller, but still selling well -- and gain a few awards, plus a modest number of fans. It's a good balance, though it'd be very hard to achieve.

Mostly, I think your writing carries you wherever it should.

Q

You're probably right. Thank you for helping me put things into perspective!

Scarlet Knight

Well put. =)

Celes

Hmm, interesting. I'd never really thought about it like that...

Lilly Dideno

I am so glad that I am no longer a teenager or even twenty-something... That's when most think it's the "Destination" that makes one happy. Guess what? It is the "Journey"! --It's all the stumbles and falls along the way that provide the zest and flavor of a life.
So here's to writing! Come what may! (Even the bumps and bruises!)

Calandria

Ok, so this is all dream world speculation for me, as my first book is still being written. If you'd asked me this a while back, I might have picked "The Award Winner." But recently I read an interview of someone whose books became mega bestsellers, but gets lots of critical mocking. She seemed so down-to-earth and humble in the interview, and she seemed happy. Some would say, "Well OF COURSE she's happy, what with all that fame and money." But I don't think she cares much about those things. Anyway, that interview made me re-think my scorn of what's popular. Thanks for the interesting post!

Shannon, at some point could you tell us about who you share your WIPs with and how? Do you let absolutely no one see your rough drafts? Do you talk with anyone about your WIP and the problems you're trying to work out while revising? Do you wait to let Dean (or other friends and family) see it only when it's ready to go to your agent?

Right now I'm so excited about my book! I love what I've written, considering it's a first draft, but I wouldn't show it to anyone in its present form. However, the thought of not showing it to anyone until it's been through seven revisions seems on the other extreme...

tanita

Whoa.
Shannon, thank you. It's true: telling stories is the key...

Georgie

Nicely said. And I agree.

L.T. Elliot

For me, it's none of those things. Yes, it would be nice if my work could affect another life in some manner but I don't write for the "career" or the "fame." I write for the words and the love of them. I write to immerse myself in the joy of storytelling; to carefully select the right descriptions to craft something tangible. Should something come of it, I'm sure I'll be just as thrilled as everyone else would be to be a published author. But should nothing come of it, I will write for as long as I have wits to do so--because I loved it first not for what I could gain from it but the happiness it offered me.

Deva

Thank you for posting this! I've been struggling a lot with these issues lately (first book coming out in less than a month == hello, anxiety!) and this is all wise and helpful and reassuring to hear.

Miss Erin

This is perfect from my aspiring-actress-POV, too. Thank you.

Enna Isilee

I'd want to be "The Award Winner" or "The Mid-Lister." It's more important to me for people to like what I do (and for me to like what I do) than for me to be rich.

Julianna

I want to be the author who writes a book that at least a few people love. I don't care about the critics, the fame, or the awards. I just want a few people to love and remember what I wrote.
Julianna

Michelle Witte

If I'm honest, I want a little bit of all of those things: awards, money, making a difference. Deep down, though, the only thing that really matters with my writing is that it gets out there and that it is important to those who read it, even if just as entertainment.

Nikki

You're right. I think of Stephenie Meyer and I think she would have picked mid-lister or less--just making a few readers happy, not gazillions of fickle fans. We can't control that side of our books. We also can't pin our happiness on whether or not we're winning awards. Write what you love; write what fascinates you; write what you think you can't; write the best story you can. The publishing side is something else altogether--with both its upsides and its downsides.

Karen

I can't help but think my journey in writing has also been a journey in why I write. When I started telling stories at a young age, I was just excited to put them down on paper. Then I entered High School and was bombarded with ideas of career, money, success. It took me a while to get past that, and now I'm back to the joy and love of storytelling itself. If no one else but my teenagers read my current stories, then I consider myself a success with my current fanbase. But of course, I'm hoping to get it to just a few more people out there. I think what I have to say is important. Thanks for ALL the advice and encouragement. It helps take a little bit of the fear out of doing what I love.

Lois Moss

I like your perspective on this. I think we have to just write what is within us and let the chips fall where they may.

jmm1

Hmmm.... I think I recognize some of these categories. I believe that Shannon Hale would be the first, because she had published 3 or 4 books before "Princess Academy". I would imagine J.K. Rowling as the Best Seller and the last two, I have no idea.

Erin

Right now I just hope people will enjoy reading my book (when it's published)! Even if it's just a few people!

Christen

Your postings are so helpful to me, as a writer, a reader, and a person. I'm hitting hard times with my book (especially since ideas for other books won't stop coming) because I tend to lose sight of what my real goal is. I read the work of other people and think, "Well, I'll never be able to write like that and if that's what people want to read, I might as well quit now." This helped me refocus myself. I can't write if I'm trying to shoot for a Newbery, the best seller list, or pleasing the public. I've just got to tell my story, because as you said, "Nothing else matters."

Thanks very much. :D

Katie-wa

I just want to finish my books! LOL I want to tell stories, and I want others to love them and find something in them as I do.

I don't want to be famous, because then everyone gets demanding and spins life out of control. I want to be able to keep up with my fans.

I would like to make money, but I couldn't care less if I didn't, so long as people enjoyed it. I want it for myself and others. That's all that is important to me.

jenelc

I've been sending out query letters off and on for a year now, and while I've had tantalizing moments of hope there have been no takers. What keeps me going however is the fact that I recently gave my manuscript to a young woman I didn't know very well whom I always saw with excellent fantasy novels in her hand. She loved it and wrote me a very nice note about how great it was. It's moments like that where I start to care a little less about being published, because I realize that my real goal is to be able to share my stories with people, and you don't always need a book contract to that. (Though it would help :)

Karey Shane

Great post, Shannon. I found your blog via Goodreads and look forward to your future posts. By the way, I went to school with Mathias, who you are related to, n'est-ce pas? My sister Lisa Taylor and he were best of friends in high school. Keep up the good work!
~Karey
http://www.SecretSpeakers.com

Annie

Well said, Shannon. Each person has their own successes and failures, and you can never really control how people will respond to your books. I think the best thing to do is to write books you love, and would want to read. If no one reads them, fine, but at least you've written something you can be proud of. And if they end up exploding on the NY Times Bestseller list, even better.

Shannon B.

That was a well worded post. We shouldn't attempt to be one kind of author-we should just go for it and see what happens!
Thanks so much for always posting-it gives me something to look forward to:)

Amanda Norr

This is great advice, but mostly inspiring. I love your blog and your insight and wit. Thank You. and I love your books.

Jackee

To know what one can and can't control is HARD and takes life experience. None of these scenarios were really in the author's control and I'm (slowly) learning the same lesson. Playing the publishing waiting game, all I can do is work on the next book, not obssess which desk that other manuscript is sitting on.

Thanks for the reminder, I needed it today!

Laina

Inspiring. I'm too speechless to say anything else except I needed to read your blog today.

Asha

i think i'd pick the last one, because it would be amazing to change someone's life so much and i could still have time for other things that i love. only, i didn't have a particularly unique or tragic childhood...but it would be cool to be a lion tamer C:

Jennie

I write because it makes me happy. And it lets me be who I am to me--not to my children or husband--just myself. But it would be ideal to help my family somehow through my writing.
It doesn't seem like you have much control of a book once it's "out there" so making goals for the books' destiny is a little silly.
It's reminds me of when someone sets a nebulous weight loss goal like, "I'm going to lose 45 lbs," but doesn't make a plan to achieve it. You don't control the weight loss, but you do control your exercise and eating habits. You can't make someone publish you, force consumers to buy your book or will critics to love it. You can just write and edit and submit. Good reminder. Thanks. It's kind of liberating.

Amy

I just want to inspire, entertain, uplift, and support my husband through school. I don't want scary people telling me they've adopted one of my books as their bible and I don't want my face plastered all over the internet. But it would be nice to make a buck and have a ball doing it.

Most Happy Girl

I know that this topic is “old” (isn’t it funny that a post 4 days old is “old”?), but I had to comment. I was asked by a church leader once what my main goal in life was, and I told him “I want to be happy.” He thought it was a cop-out answer, but it isn’t because I want true happiness. True happiness doesn’t come from what you do for a living. It comes from inside of you, where you are within yourself, and how you treat other people. You could be wildly successful, as far as other people are concerned, and be the most miserable person on the face of the eath. And what do you have? Nothing, really. When we leave this world, the only things we take with us are what we carry inside ourselves and the relationships we’ve created, good or bad.

Most Happy Girl

I know that this topic is “old” (isn’t it funny that a post 4 days old is “old”?), but I had to comment. I was asked by a church leader once what my main goal in life was, and I told him “I want to be happy.” He thought it was a cop-out answer, but it isn’t because I want true happiness. True happiness doesn’t come from what you do for a living. It comes from inside of you, where you are within yourself, and how you treat other people. You could be wildly successful, as far as other people are concerned, and be the most miserable person on the face of the eath. And what do you have? Nothing, really. When we leave this world, the only things we take with us are what we carry inside ourselves and the relationships we’ve created, good or bad.

Most Happy Girl

Sorry about sending that last post twice. I realized I'd type in my website name wrong. Please disregard the first one, post the second one, and throw this one away. Thanks!

Asakiyume

Here from Faerie Writer (Maggie Wood) on LJ--just had to say that this is an excellent little essay, full of truth, and a real pleasure to read.

kyla crosby

wow, i so want to be a writer now!

Donna

You rock Shannon. Thank you for that wise perspective. To keep it in my brain, I'll probably have to read it every day (or every five minutes... you know, whatever).

(I'm also curious about your answer to Calandria's question.)

Danielle

I agree with those that said they'd just like to finish their novels, but also fully support your analysis of writers as well :)

Kasandra Mathieson

Shannon:
Loved this post and appreciate your thoughtful analysis of writers. In fact I sent this post to my daughter Danielle who is writing a book right now because I think this will really help her! I know she loves your books as much as I do!

Clynxat

Thank you very much for writing this. Your last line - we write because we want to tell stories - reminded me. Thank you!

Susan Kipp

I'm working on a small little picture book idea currently and I'd be happy if I could just finish it before my sons are too old to want to read it! I'm doing the art and the story myself in between full time job + children, husband, etc. Yes. I'd be happy just to finish it and bind it with yarn and see the smiles on my children's faces.

Georgia

Shannon, thank you for this post. I'm a twenty-something, stay-at-home, mormon mom, and I'm currently writing a book that I hope to have published. Confession: I'm a huge Shannon Hale Wannabe. I admire your writing so much, and whenever I get stuck when I'm writing, I think, "What would Shannon Hale say here?" My dad teases me that I need a WWSHD bracelet... not a bad idea. Anyway, I appreciate your perspective on writing/ being published.

TwilightHeartsPuma

I thank you for this list, Shannon, because I looked at this list and couldn't figure out an answer.

I don't think I would ever be able to decide this myself, but an honest reader could and the answer would vary among said readers. Thousands of answers, but not one that stands out completely enough to be that perfect, matching answer.

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