Inspired By A Newshound

Today’s Blogging 101 assignment is to write a post inspired by another blogger’s post on which we commented earlier.Donna-Louise at her blog “Newshound to Novelist” wrote a post called Follow the Literary Brick Road, about turning 30 and wanting to publish a novel instead of continuing in the journalism where she has found success. By leaving her a comment, I hoped to encourage her to persevere. That, and a recent story on the BBC about J.K. Rowling, got me thinking about the various paths so many writers take.

It was an interview with Barry Cunningham, the publisher who bought the first Harry Potter book for Bloomsbury: BBC Witness: Interview with Harry Potter’s Publisher, found at http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org.  He did not know that it had already been rejected by more than a dozen other publishers. What he did know was that he was gripped by the story after reading the first two chapters; that his young daughter couldn’t stop reading it, so much so that it was hard to reclaim the manuscript from her; and that his publishing house, relatively new and small, could not compete with larger publishers except by looking for works that were different, off the beaten track. He repeated the well-known story of how J.K. Rowling wrote the books over a period of several years when she was a single mother of a very young child, unemployed, scribbling on pads in Edinburgh coffee shops and typing her manuscript on an old manual typewriter. Talk about commitment and persistence!

J.K. Rowling finished “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” the year she turned 30. A year later, Barry Cunningham bought the book. A year after that, in 1997, it was published. It was an “overnight success” that took seven years to begin. And at the time, Cunningham says, no one had any idea that children’s books were about to become one of the most dynamic areas of publishing. Another first-time novelist, Arthur Golden, published “Memoirs of a Geisha” when he was over 40. Just this year, one of the biggest news stories was the publication of “Go Set A Watchman”, Harper Lee’s original version of what became the legendary novel “To Kill A Mockingbird”, after years of writing, rewriting, great editing.

I’m well past 30 and still haven’t published anything. I earned a living for several years as a staff writer, then went to law school and supported myself with legal words. I have been raising three children with my wonderful husband and I work in higher education. Now that the kids are older, I have started writing a lot more and taking classes in areas I wanted to explore, like playwriting and screenwriting. I’ve even submitted some of that work to competitions. I have to remind myself that my life has taken many wonderful detours that have allowed me to build a very fortunate life with a beloved family. I still dream of publishing some of my writings. And I have to remember to persevere, to keep learning but not dilute my own voice and messages, to keep trying. To keep writing. And if I am satisfied with what I write, that is something worthy in itself.

The poet C.P. Cavafy captured something of this in his poem “The First Step”:

The young poet Evmenis
complained one day to Theocritos:
“I have been writing for two years now
and I have composed just one idyll.
It’s my only completed work.
I see, sadly, that the ladder of Poetry
is tall, extremely tall;
and from this first step I now stand on
I will never climb any higher.”
Theocritos replied: “Words like that
are improper, blasphemous.
Just to be on the first step
should make you happy and proud.
To have come this far is no small achievement:
what you have done is a glorious thing.
Even this first step
is a long way above the ordinary world.
To stand on this step
you must be in your own right
a member of the city of ideas.
And it is a hard, unusual thing
to be enrolled as a citizen of that city.
Its councils are full of Legislators
no charlatan can fool.
To have come this far is no small achievement:
what you have done already is a glorious thing.”
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

One thought on “Inspired By A Newshound

  1. Thank you so much for linking up – this was a wonderful article to read. I’m glad to have inspired and also to have you inspire me. My step-daughter is called Serenity too so it’s as if it was meant to be 😊 best of luck. I will be following.

    Liked by 1 person

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