What’s your favorite writing success story?

It’s funny how in this business, as in life, sometimes it takes something small to remember why we’re in it in the first place. As you all by now know, the publishing industry has been a fairly controversial place of late. I won’t go through it all again here, or get into the nitty gritty of some of the latest news headlines pitting Amazon against independent booksellers, but suffice to say there’s a lot of fear about the future.

That’s why I was happy to find this video recently that shares an unbelievable story about how  Cherie Priest got her start as an author. After having been rejected by Tor with a form letter a couple of years earlier, a young editor found Cherie’s manuscript while cleaning out the office of someone who died, and after reading it (because she says she can’t throw anything away without reading it first) and loving it, e-mailed her hoping she was still at the same address. It was a good thing the e-mail address was there because she’d long since moved and the editor’s letter had already been returned unopened. The rest, as they say, is history. A really cool publishing story, right? And one that gives faith that good things still happen and dreams really can come true. Alright, enough with the cotton candy fluff, but you get my point.

What is your favorite writing success story? It doesn’t have to be getting an agent or a publisher. I’m thinking more about what led you on a writer’s path. Could be getting an A on a grade school paper, or finding a writing teacher who inspired you to do your best work, or getting dumped and realizing the only way to survive was to write about the experience. Please share. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.

5 Responses to What’s your favorite writing success story?

  1. AAGreene says:

    My creative writing teacher in high school. She had such passion for what she did, it was contagious. It was because of her that I started to think about writing, after I thought my life had been already planned out at the age of 17. I don’t know where she is, or what she is doing today, but my first novel will be dedicated to her. Without her, I would not have been brave enough to try. I wish everyone had the opportunity to be a student of a teacher like her.

  2. Andrea says:

    I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was six and have never stopped writing since, but when I was about 25, writing had become a survival technique and I´d sort of given up on the idea to become a published author. It was still in the back of my head, like something for the far future, but I didn´t really think I had something interesting to write about.

    Then I watched an item on t.v. about J.K. Rowling visiting schools in Britain and doing question and answer sessions. One of the children asked her if she had any advice for aspiring writers and she said (can´t remember the exact words, but this is what I remember): “Just keep writing until you write something you like. One day you´ll write something and you´ll know you´ve written something worthwhile.”

    So I followed her advice and now I am actually writing something I really like. Even better, other people like it as well, including a few professionals.

  3. Wow, I didn’t know that about Cherie Priest. It’s even cooler in light of the movie news last week.

    In regard to other writers, I think J.K. Rowling has one of the best stories, if only because of its magnitude. She went from nothing to being one of the most successful writers today, both in terms of fans and money, and she gives a lot back.

    As for myself, I don’t know if I have a favorite writing success story…yet. I’m still very much at the beginning of the process, and most of the things that stick in my mind are instances where someone didn’t like or understand some detail of a story and it inspired me to show them up.

  4. Emily says:

    Dr. Bellow, my professor for freshman English, taught structure — before that I had been winging my verbal skill into good high school grades. But when Professor Bellow revealed the inner secrets of story structure, I became more than just a smart girl. I became an educated smart girl.

    Owing to his instruction, I was able to excel in producing written reports and went on to attempt talking professors into letting me write a term paper in lieu of final exams — when it worked I made very good grades.

    Later, my first professional writing was a pick-up job to clean up a final report of archeology [rejected by the contracting agency for bad writing — thus not paid for]. Dr. Bellow’s instruction came to my aide and, even though I had a broken heart and wept most of the time I was writing the report, it was accepted and cemented my reputation as a writer among my peers. And I learned that I can write regardless of the immediate emotional circumstances. It was a major report of findings at the Texas Historic Fort McKavett and stood as the first comprehensive work for that site – published in 1974.

    So I owe my non-fiction publishing career to Dr. Bellow. If I ever publish a novel, I’ll owe that to him too inasmuch as I have learned to create a structural backbone for my stories.

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