by Lu Ann Staheli
Several years ago, I attended a conference where author Jerry Spinelli (Eggs, Little Brown Young Readers) recounted his long path to success. He reminded the audience that failure is more common that success in the world of publishing. “It’s how you learn to deal with failure that determines who you are,” he said. “I wrote for twelve years, writing four books before I made my first sale. I was failing like a champ.”
Spinelli continued his advice with, “Never waste your failures. Whether you sell the book or not, what do you do? Write another one. Why doesn’t everyone see that?”
I’m sure many of us feel like we are failing like a champ. Although I’ve had publication success via many venues, there is still that elusive desire to sell a novel that burns deep within me. I could ignore those feelings which have lived with me since I was a child, forcing myself to be satisfied with all the other writing I have sold, but as any of you who are serious about writing careers will understand, quitting the dream is not really an option.
Next year celebrates the twelfth anniversary of when completed my first novel. Since then I’ve finished three more. True—none of them have yet sold, but I’m feeling my time is coming. I’ve had my failures, now it’s time to have my successes.
Maybe Jerry Spinelli and I will have something more in common, and someday having a Newbery of my own would be nice, too.