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Dreaded Drawers: filing away unpublished work

August 9, 2011

When I tell participants in my writing workshop I’ve written five books that have never been published, they’re often aghast. I can only guess what’s going on in their minds. “Why am I taking a class from this loser?”  “What’s wrong with her writing?” “I’d be better off walking my dog right now.” Who knows, maybe they would be. However, many published authors I know all wrote books that were never published. It’s part of the process.

We write because that’s what writers do. If a book isn’t picked up by an agent or an editor, it’s filed away in a drawer or on a shelf. No one wants to have a dreaded drawer full of rejects, but it’s how we learn and become better writers. Kids don’t learn to read by picking up War and Peace. They begin with Dr. Seuss, Dick and Jane (I realize I’m dating myself), and beginning readers. As kids grow, their bookshelves are lined with chapter books, middle grade novels, and finally young adult trysts. Why should it be different for writers?

Authors write bad novels. We write picture books that we’re sure every agent will love because our kids thought they were great. It’s only until writers begin to fill their dreaded drawer with sappy stories, rejections, and undone novels that their journey begins. And isn’t that what it’s really about? A writer’s life is a journey. Don’t be afraid of filing your story in the dreaded drawer. It may resurface, but if not, you’ve undoubtedly learned something. Kudos.

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