Don’t Give Up
My journey to publication spans thirty years, and yes, it’s been a long road. This may not seem like a positive introduction, but as the title suggests, my message is one of encouragement. Everyone faces challenges in writing and promoting their work, and sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that as writers we have much in common and can learn from one another. On that note, here’s my story.
After teaching high school for five years, I resigned in 1979 so I could write a novel. I pulled out all my savings and jumped in with both feet. Two years later I completed the manuscript and sent out letters of inquiry. No luck. Letters of rejection began piling up so fast that I stopped saving them because I ran out of storage room.
I returned to teaching and remained in the classroom for the next thirty-two years. During that time, I wrote ten more novels and sent out many more letters of inquiry. Rejection became a way of life as I tried one genre after another, always hoping that the next book would be my breakthrough.
In 2002, I hit upon an idea for a storyline based loosely on my family history. It took six years to develop it into a novel because of time constraints. When it was finished, I sent out more letters of inquiry. Again, no luck. So I rewrote the novel completely and sent out further queries. This time I was accepted, and I signed with Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. She shopped the manuscript around for a year without any progress. So I rewrote the novel again, changing the theme from Christmas to an anniversary. A year later, Joyce was successful in placing The Anniversary Waltz. It was a ten-year journey from start to finish!
Then I discovered that the journey was only beginning. I had to promote the book, and I found this to be as much work, if not more, than writing it. I’m talking book signings, visiting book clubs, writing articles, doing blog interviews, starting a webpage, entering parades, and keeping in contact on Facebook and Twitter. And while these promotional efforts were going on, I was writing my second novel, The Return of Cassandra Todd, the story of a young woman, on the run from her abusive husband, and the young man she meets who risks his life to help her. It too has a long and varied history, but I’ll save that for another article.
So now the words of encouragement: Don’t give up. It took me thirty years to find a publisher. And if I can do it, you can do it too. And hopefully in a lot less time. But if not, remember that we often need the journey to give us experiences that prepare us to craft the story we were not ready to write earlier.
About Darrel Nelson . . .
I am a schoolteacher by profession and taught school for thirty-seven years. I retired in June 2012 so that I could write full time. Raymond, Alberta, is my hometown, and I attended the University of Lethbridge after graduating from high school, majoring in English. I have always loved to write. I started writing stories before I was old enough to realize I was writing stories. It seemed a natural thing to pick up a pencil and paper and create a world simply by using words—worlds of adventure in steaming jungles (Tarzan was an early influence on me) or realms of adventure in outer space (Buck Rogers).
But as I have grown older, I have discovered that the real inspiration for me is exploring the theme of love and how it can make such a difference in the world. The Anniversary Waltz was published in May 2012. It is the story of Adam and Elizabeth Carlson's courtship, set in northern Montana at the end of World War II. The Return of Cassandra Todd was released in February 2013. It is set in modern day Denver, and is the story of Cassandra's desperate flight from her abusive husband, and the timely assistance she receives from Turner. I am currently working on my third novel, Following Rain, which deals with the saving power of truth and love.
For more information, feel free to check out my website at http://www.darrelnelson.com.