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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's it worth?


From the moment you make the decision to write a novel to the time you work through each page of the story, chances are you've entertained some psychological exercises ranging from huge dreams to fear of failure and everything in between. At some point during the process, you are forced to decide what it's all worth to you and exactly what you hope to achieve by delving into writing a novel.

Those of us who are innately drama queens - and kings - envision fame and fortune, our novels made into blockbuster films, and our names or books claiming a residence in most homes. Those of us who are recluses imagine the goal of being the mysterious and unidentified author of bestselling literary novels or hotly pursued (pun intended) romance novels. Our imaginations gone wild can produce all kinds of fabricated success stories before "The End" is typed on a final page.

Although success stories for novelists vary as much as our prospective ponderings, what happens to our finished work is unpredictable. It's been said more than once by different professionals in publishing - from authors to editors - that perseverance and persistence outweigh talent in this industry. In fact we've all read books that attest to this.

So what's it worth to you to get that traditional publishing contract? Will you jump through every hoop presented to you? If that means changing the heart of your story to satisfy an editor, will you do it? How long will you persist until an agent or an editor takes an interest in your work? How many conferences will you attend to gain connections? How many dollars will you invest to promote your story?

The reality of writing and finishing a novel comes down to questions and answers that aren't always easy to assess until you're in the middle of the journey. The question will eventually present itself to you: What's it worth?


Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion. Raw Romantic Redemptive


  1. Another thoughtful post, Nicole. Such different journeys we have, each of us who writes and hopes and dreams that some day our words will occupy more than space on our hard drive. Or, as in my case, space that began on typewritten pages and moved to floppy disks. If I'd worried about recouping the time in financial terms, I'd have quit long ago.

    So, does our writing then become a gift?

    And if a gift, offered to whom?

  2. As for me, N, it's God's gift to me. I return it to Him as my meager offering, doing my best to convey what He's given me to say in a way that I hope will touch souls for Him. He measures its worth in spiritual value. If I had to rely on humans to establish its worth, the striving for attention would never cease, and I can't say the journey would be worth much - at least to me. Thank you, my friend, for always contributing valuable thoughts.

  3. What's it worth?

    Is it worth it jumping through every hoop, to sacrifice the heart of the story just to get published? For me, no way. Yes, I'd LOVE to be published some day, but I won't sacrifice my story's integrity to achieve it.

    How long will I persist? That depends on the kind of day I'm having. ;) Yesterday, I wanted to quit! But, honestly, I'll keep pressing on until I get the red light from God.

    And how much will I invest? That's a big question. At times it feels like I'm throwing money into a black hole. Who knew writing would be so expensive? Yet, when the money's there, I'll keep going to conferences, I'll keep taking classes, I'll keep buying craft books.

    To answer Normandie's question, I think our writing is a two-way gift. First, God has gifted us with the talent, then we gift it back to Him by using the talent. To me, writing is a form of worship.

    Excellent questions, Nicole.

  4. Love your honesty and your thoughtful answers, Bren. Thank you for the straight talk.

  5. I think most of us have started out with the starry-eyed version of the writer's journey. I remember my first novel, which still lies dormant on my hard drive, and how I imagined it being a best-seller, receiving awards, getting onto the talk shows. We mature as we move forward, though. After several years, we know what it takes and what to expect in return. And that's where we make The Decision. I chose to move forward, even though I know it's a labor of love and I will probably never see a big return, if any, on my investment. Once you're okay with that realization, you probably become a better writer, because now you're writing for the right reasons.

  6. Agreed, Ron. I started out more naive than starstruck, but that's not to say I didn't have visions of grandeur, thanks to my being a Drama Queen. However, my passion used to drive me to run ahead of the Lord, beckoning Him to follow. Silly me. I try very hard to avoid that nowadays.

  7. I'd never change the heart of my story to please anyone ... unless what the editor suggested made good sense. And I'm sure most of the time, it does.

    For me, traditional publishing is the way I've been led and so I'll keep on the path until God opens the door. I know He has a time and a place for me. I keep writing and let my agent keep pitching.

  8. Ane, I think the road best taken is the one God has for each of us. It's really the only one that matters in the short or long run, and I commend all who follow where the Lord directs.

    I don't carry the same faith in editors that you have because of some of the horror stories I've heard - and not from inexperienced or poor writers. My own experience is that some have a rapport with what I'm doing and how I'm doing it and some definitely don't. It's obvious personal tastes in literature (of those who don't) are not mine and that they carry out the "traditions" of the "clean and chaste" CBA movement. And, again, to each his own. To make concessions to that mindset is not "worth" it to me.

  9. Good post, and timely because I've been pondering this as of late. What it's not worth to me is burn-out and ill health. It's not worth missing my boys grow up and never spending time with my husband because I'm too busy working. Even so, I think I write a draft from outline to final product by working in small defined increments throughout the day. Defined meaning, setting myself a small daily goal, and if I happen to surpass it, then great. If not, insert patience.

  10. It's good to have the answer(s) to the question, Jess, and doing what you can when you can to fulfill your desire and purpose to write.


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