I’ve been reading this book, How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M Christensen. It’s a fabulous little book so far and I highly recommend it to anyone. (Kindle version is only 3.79 last time I checked) He teaches at Harvard business school so this book does have to do with business but mostly the book is about, you guessed it, life. In one of the chapters he discusses investing in your future. He says you don’t plant a sapling when you need shade, you plant it several years before you need the shade. He quotes some studies that show how talking to your child the first two or so years of their life will do more to determine that child’s intelligence, schooling, career, and success than the parent’s education or situation in life. He says that to do the best for your child you have to invest in that child before you even realize it’s helpful or that the child understands you.
It’s the same way with writing. We invest months and years into writing novels that may or may not ever be published. At this point we don’t get recognition or recompense. Many people I know don’t really think of my writing as a career. I’m not getting paid, I don’t have anything published. It’s just a hobby, something I do on the side, right?
I’m investing in my writing career.
If I wait until I have an agent or an editor to worry about that pesky grammar or writing craft I’ll never improve. If I wait for the perfect sale-able idea, the great American novel, and assume I'll be able to create fascinating dialogue and riveting characters it will never get written. Most likely I’ll never get to the point of having an agent or editor. I have to learn these things now so I can develop and deliver a quality product. It gets very discouraging to work so long and so hard with no promise of a reward, but the investment will pay off eventually, even if it’s not how you think.
My poor novel might currently look like an ugly fledgling, but as I invest time in it, it will grow feathers, spread its wings, and we will soar to places I’d never dreamed of.
And while the wait often seems long and hard, I’ve got to plant that sapling now if I want shade in a few years.