I don’t have a sacred space to write in, and I didn’t become a writer because of a book—not to say I don’t love to read, because I do—but rather a movie. Discovering Star Wars as a tween made me want to become a writer, and these days I end up doing most of my writing in a notepad on the love seat in front of my TV. After writing my first book, “The Other Inheritance,” on my computer, I’ve developed an allergy to writing the sequel on anything electronic. I just can’t do it. Unfortunately for me, I’m most comfortable putting pen to paper, which means I have to type all those messy, handwritten notes later. I’ve essentially doubled my workload, but who ever said writers were efficient? I simply claim this oddity as the privilege of being an artist. That seems to explain most weird habits away.
I admire and envy those writers who have a routine and the discipline to reinforce it. For me writing can be a very sporadic venture, an all or nothing if you will. Sometimes I’ll consistently write for a month and then barely touch my manuscript over the next two months with a meager paragraph or two to show for my efforts. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the writing business, it’s to never give up. Sure, I may not have a great system down yet, but my first novel has been published and while writing the sequel is akin to watching honey pour from a jar, I am writing a sequel. People have actually read the first book and want to know what happens next. Maybe not the hordes of readers all writers dream about, but the fact that I have readers continues to blow my mind.
It took me eight years to get “The Other Inheritance” published. Eight long years of writing, rewriting, and rejections before I found my YA fantasy novel a home. But I never gave up. And if you’re an aspiring writer, you shouldn’t give up either. Persistence is the key. Persistence and a good editor. The one piece of advice I can give—that I think all writers can agree with—is to consistently try to make your writing the best it can be. That means being able to handle criticism. That means cutting that perfect phrase or scene you’ve become so attached to if it doesn’t service the story.
When I was writing “The Other Inheritance,” I took a few writing classes through Mediabistro and made some great friends. Fellow writers who were honest with me about my work and pushed me to become a better writer. They really helped me get published because they didn’t let me settle for mediocre. And you shouldn’t settle for mediocre either. With all the publishing platforms out there today, the competition for readers is fierce. So find a writing group on Facebook, or take a few classes, but make friends with writers who can offer you support and that all important critical eye. You should in turn provide criticism for their work. All these exercises help you grow as a writer as does reading as much as you can. The more you read, the better you write.
Whether you decide to self-publish, end up with a small press like me, or are gunning for that elusive literary agent, never give up. Your persistence will eventually pay off. Just go forth and try to be the best writer you can be. I’m still on that journey myself, and I’m enjoying every minute.
About Rebecca Jaycox
Rebecca Jaycox grew up in the tiny town of Berryman, which borders the Mark Twain National Forest and the Courtois River about 70 miles south of St. Louis. The beautiful landscape fed her imagination, and she began writing stories at age 10 and never stopped. Always seeking adventure, Rebecca moved to France after she graduated college with a journalism degree to teach English at a French high school. Bitten by the travel bug, she has recently visited Italy, Greece, Austria, Spain, and finally made it to her bucket-list destination of Istanbul last summer. Rebecca now lives in New York City with her husband, Gregory. She is the curator and program director of the YA Lit Series at the 92nd Street Y—one of New York’s premier cultural centers. She enjoys reading and writing fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction. “The Other Inheritance” is her first novel.