December brings festivities, celebration, and the eve of reflection as the new year approaches. We’re getting a jump start on reflection by taking you through the Phases of a Writer’s Life.
Just as a new teacher goes through distinct phases during their first year of teaching, an aspiring writer navigating the murky waters of the publishing ocean go through similar phases.
- Anticipation: A new writer is excited and anxious about beginning a brilliant career. She is confident that her writing ability, her character development, her storytelling gift, and her unique voice will immediately propel her career into success.
- Survival: When she started her first novel, our new writer had grand expectations. The words flowed out of her. Excitement and adrenaline kept her motivated. However the realities of what it takes to be a writer are beginning to sink in and the struggle of finding the time to write while maintaining a full time job, managing house, kids, etc, and the looming agent search is making her feel like her head is barely above water.
- Disillusionment: The book is finished. The house is still standing and our writer is still sane. The agent search is at hand. It begins with gusto. She’s sure that her book is going to be a blockbuster and that every agent she contacts will ask for a partial, then the full, and finally offer representation. Alas, it doesn’t go as planned. Rejection after rejection hit the inbox of her email and her mailbox. The manuscript isn’t quite right for the agents she’s been courting. She begins to loose enthusiasm and becomes disillusioned with this career she’s spent so many hours pursuing.
- Rejuvenation: The phone rings. It’s an agent who’s had our writer’s manuscript for two and a half months. She loves it. She wants to represent it. Suddenly the grass outside is a little greener. The sky is a little bluer. She’s a little lighter on her feet. She feels reinvigorated and has hope again that this career will take off.
- Reflection: Getting the agent was great, but it wasn’t the end all our writer thought it would be. It’s been a year of revisions and submissions and still there’s no contract on her book. But our writer has learned from her experiences. She knows that it only takes one editor and then she’ll be onto the next phase of her career. She reflects that it’s the journey and not the end result that she’s learned to enjoy. A publishing contract is part of her plan, but she knows that that will just be the beginning of a whole new ocean she’ll have to learn to navigate.
Adapted from Moir, E (1999). The stages of a teacher’s first year. In M. Schere (Ed.). A Better Beginning: Supporting and Mentoring New Teachers. Alexandria, VA: ASCD
Misa Ramirez has been a teacher, give or take a few years, since 1990. She spent several years supporting beginning teachers and relates what they go through during their first year to the struggles writers go through at various stages of their careers.