“Well begun is half done.”
English language proverb.
The proverb is meant to belay the fears of those considering first-time endeavors. You will never accomplish your dreams unless, and until, you get off your backside and get to work. Taking that first step is huge. How big depends on you.
I have a very hard time accepting defeat and giving up on tasks that are important to me. That should make it harder for me to commit to new projects, new arenas, and new directions. It should, but it doesn’t. Unfortunately, I jump in with both feet to things that inspire me without regard to my skills and experience.
That’s why at sixty-six I’m building a publishing business in a field where it is nearly impossible to succeed. Of course, my idea of success is not the standard notion. I’m attempting to tell stories and open doors to new writers, not amass riches.
I chose the proverb for this blog because I want to share with writers that the act of typing The End on your manuscript is not the end, it is not even the beginning. It is more like the first bit of empty air under your butt as you rise to begin. And I say that knowing most would-be writers never get that far.
After typing The End comes the editor—and multiple retyping of those words. Hemingway, who knew a bit about writing, once said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Your first draft, despite its golden glow, is no different. Self-editing may reduce the smell. It will not alter the substance. I speak from experience. That’s why you are seeing my books being re-released.
When the editor finally agrees that the baby you have given birth to is cleaned up enough to hand to a publisher, it has to be dressed up and laid in front of the maternity ward window with the other babies born there.
Done at last, right?
You could say that, but you won’t. There’s nobody there to look at your creation and ooh and aah at what you’ve done. Now comes promotion and marketing—most of which is left entirely up to you.
Unless you already have a string of bestsellers to your credit, the publisher has only a marginal interest in expending any more effort. It’s up to you to prove yourself and your book is worthy. It up to you to hustle to get the word out and inspire, cajole, exhort, convince, and persuade people to not only read your book but pay you for the privilege to do so. And that, my fellow scribbler is a never-ending job.
You will find that you have done more than write a story. That baby analogy was not a coincidence. You have a child whose life is every moment dependent on you, your energy, and your life. How that relationship develops over time is not unlike that of a child. And how well your child does in life, is up to you and a reflection of your commitment to its care.