Save the Writer: A Tale of Perseverance in 15 Beats
You’re just a writer with a manuscript—or only the faintest whispers of one—begging the world to make space for you on a bookshelf.
You start writing because there’s a story inside you, and it won’t stay silent. The story begs to be told.
It’s important for you to remember this.
Who are you to write a story? You just read a book by [insert your favorite life-changing author here] and how can anything you write ever compare? How can you pour yourself onto the page for complete strangers—and worse, the people you know in real life—to read? No, you can’t write because you don’t know how to begin. You don’t know how to end. The middle kills you every time. You’ve run out of ideas. You’ve run out of enthusiasm. You’ve run out of snacks.
You’ve run out of excuses.
Break Into Two (Choosing Act Two)
How can you not write the story that only you can tell?
Enter your crew. You meet them at school or at conferences. They’re your neighbors from across the hall or across the street. At the bookstore, or the library, or that coffee shop where all the people love to meditate over their pretty notebooks. (This is before COVID, of course.) Some you know only from online, but they’re the closest to you of all, members of a found family.
You’re all so different, yet all the same: each one of you buzzes with stories to be told. You make a pact to see each other through to the end.
The Promise of the Premise
You get up before dawn. Or stay up until only the crickets and moon are awake. You plot and plan and character map, scribbling in notebooks or on Post-it Notes or pages taped to the walls. Then you open your laptop and you do word sprints. Word crawls. Word slogs. Squeezing words from rocks. You log onto Twitter and call this working.
A few chapters are finished, finally. You send them to critique partners. You ask them to be gentle, please don’t crush your fragile writer heart. Or you ask them to be 100 percent blunt, tell you anything and everything that needs fixing. Nothing shines without a lot of polish. Their feedback makes you want to cry (you decide whether those tears are sad or happy). Most of all, it gives you the strength to keep going.
You write, and sprint, and snack. You shout and cry and cheer with your CPs in DMs and text messages. You laugh over memes and GIFs. You write and revise, write and revise. With each new round, the words on the page start to match the tapestry in your mind. Best of all, you discover new elements of the story that have a vibrancy which takes your breath away.
You discover words, thoughts, insights you didn’t know you had.
Your manuscript is finished. You cheer with friends, shout about it online. Break open [insert your favorite celebratory beverage here]. You did the thing that so many times seemed impossible; you’ve written that book.
Time to send it out into the world.
Bad Guys Close In
Your query is rejected. Again. Your voice is razor-sharp, but they couldn’t connect with the characters. No, the characters are relatable and timely and relevant, but your world-building doesn’t stand out. No, your worldbuilding is fresh, vivid, and fascinating, but the plot isn’t high-concept enough. No, you wrote an amazing book, so well-done, they all loved it, best wishes finding an agent/publishing imprint, you are going to find one with a book this outstanding.
People keep insisting, “It only takes one yes!” You will throttle the next person who says it. You wonder what more you can possibly do to find your One. You watch other writers—your own friends—moving on, moving ahead. You watch as they land that agent. That book deal. That six-figure advance. That book tour, or festival appearance. Those awards. That spot on a best-seller list.
They are your friends, and you’re happy for them, because you’ve seen their struggles, how much they’ve overcome, and you know they deserve every good thing. But you wonder when—if—your time will come. You wonder if there are people out there who could love your stories for what they are. You wonder if your stories will ever be enough.
You wonder if you are enough.
All is Lost
The rejections keep coming until you could paper the walls of your home with them. And still, they keep coming . . . until it’s another book in the drawer.
Dark Night of the Soul
Why keep writing when it feels like screaming into the void?
Break Into Three (Choosing Act Three)
Do you remember that theme from way back in the beginning? The one that was so important you didn’t forget? There’s a story inside you, and it won’t stay silent. It begs to be told.
As long as there are still stories inside you begging to be told, you must give them a voice. Only you can tell your stories. Only you can speak your truths.
Rinse and repeat. You do what seems impossible, and you revise your manuscript again, stripping it down to the bones, breaking those bones and resetting them. Or, you start over with a new idea altogether, one that will stretch and challenge your writing skills in ways you’d never imagined. You meet more writer friends, and you learn from each other. They fill the gaps in your writer’s toolbox. They fill the gaps in you as a person. All of you write, and write, and write. Each new story makes you stronger.
You are a writer, telling your heart’s stories in the best way you can, being bold and brave and putting them out into the world. And along the way, you remember to take care of the others in your community, offering feedback, support, and encouraging words. Because no one succeeds on this journey alone.
THE . . . END?
Never. Not as long as you keep writing.
Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona’s deserts and now lives among Connecticut’s trees. She spends her days writing, being mom to the world’s cutest boys, whirling through dance workouts, and baking too many cakes.
She does not possess fire magic, but does have one fire-colored cat. We Are the Fire is her debut novel.