Letter to a (Soon to be) Published Writer

Robin LaFevers wrote one of my favorite inspirational pieces, a letter to Soon To Be Published Writer (April, 2014). Her advice is as timeless as her novels.

“And you, there in the corner, looking everywhere but at me, afraid to believe that your time is almost here. It is. You’ve been working hard, for long years, carving out time, pouring your heart and soul into your work, perfecting your craft, and, maybe most important of all, not giving up. So yes, your turn is coming. It’s just around the corner there where you can’t see it, but it’s heading your way. It might be here in two months or maybe two years, but it will be here. Unless you give up. Then it will never arrive, so whatever you do now, don’t give up.”

Don’t. Give. Up.

LaFevers highlights several important points to remember (my paraphrases):

You will experience a series of firsts—first phone call offering representation, first phone call with an offer of publication, your first contract, your first check, the first time you hold the physical book in your hands. Savor each moment.

Remember, you have not left all your problems and heartaches behind. You have simply traded one set of problems for a new set. Anxiety is normal.

Find a way to separate the act of writing from the business of publishing...When you feel wrecked and broken and raw from the writing life, use it to create authenticity in your writing.

“When you wake up in the dark hours of morning, or toss and turn unable to sleep for the fears and insecurities nipping at your toes, find a way to pour that into your writing. Let it feed your work and give it urgency. I said urgency, not desperation.”

If you can find your way back to the work, the work that you love, then you will always—always—be able to find your way home and re-center yourself.

The perfect companion to LaFever’s letter is J.K. Rowlings speech to Harvard graduates. She discusses the benefits and the importance of failure – and by extension, rejection – to her success:

“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life…

"Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies...

“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.”
Keep writing!

Bobbi Miller 


  1. Failure and resilience is how we learn and become stronger. 140 rejections before a 'yes' to publication. I agree. Don't give up! This is such an important post for pre-published authors!

  2. I don't know what I love more: the quote about what's just around the corner, or the quote about failure giving permission to be nothing more than what you are. Great stuff here.

  3. So much wisdom here. "If you can find your way back to the work, the work that you love, then you will always—always—be able to find your way home and re-center yourself." YES.


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