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Goodreads asked Jamie Sedgwick:

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Jamie Sedgwick Authors come in all different flavors, from eccentric novelists who only publish one book to prolific writers like Stephen King who never seem to stop. In general, I believe fiction writers are driven by a passion for literature. We loved it before we even considered writing it. So in that aspect, it's a calling, and it can't be wrong to follow a calling. But we each have to find our own voice and overcome our individual weaknesses. In order to do this, we have to look at our work with a critical eye and be willing to accept that sometimes, it's just not that good.

I recently stumbled across an old manuscript of mine, one of the first novels I ever wrote. It's one that I've actually had friends tell me they really liked and that I should publish. But in re-reading the first chapter, I instantly knew I couldn't do this. I knew that if I ever wanted to publish this book, I would have to rewrite every single page. That's not to say I hated the book when I wrote it. The truth is, I thought it was good enough to submit for publication (almost ten years ago!) and it was rejected at least a dozen times. While waiting for those rejections, I went on to the next book, and then the next. After maybe half a million words, I reached the point where I could look at my earlier work and instantly recognize most of the flaws. In this manner, I developed a recognition of my own shortcomings and learned techniques to find flaws that I had once overlooked.

Ultimately, those early rejections did me a favor. There were hundreds of them, and each one pushed me to keep learning, to raise my game with each new book, until I had six or seven completed novels under my belt, none of which would ever see publication. I'm grateful for that, because if they had been published, I would probably look back at them now with some embarrassment. Yes, I said it: I'm glad I got rejected, even though many of those rejections probably had less to do with my writing than the saleability of the subject matter. A few more years of practice made me a better writer, even if it was disheartening at the time.

Things don't work like that now. It's easy to hammer out your first manuscript, format it for Kindle, and hit the "publish" button. I think quite a few writers find this temptation irresistible, and they're only hurting themselves in the long run. While it is technically possible to create a fantastic piece of fiction on your very first try, it's highly improbable. For the vast majority of us, mastery is something that comes through years of practice. When you've written a few novels, or better yet five or six, you look at writing differently. If at that point, you can't find a publisher and you decide you're ready, you're probably right. There's nothing wrong with self-publishing and most of the stigma related to it is gone now. Just try not to publish something you might regret later (or if you do, publish it under a pseudonym!).

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