I started a novel during my senior year of college. I re-started occasionally for the next twenty years, always feeling like I’d never be good enough to avoid rejection. My wife finally put her foot down. “You want to be a writer. WRITE.”
I dusted off my idea, and started over. I didn’t get very far. In twenty years of trying I’d only come up with characters and situations, but no real plot. In a marathon session with my wife, whom I kept up until 2 a.m. discussing ideas, a plot finally emerged. I made some notes, and then did nothing for another year.
It wasn’t until I joined a writers’ critique group that things began to happen. I found a mentor in Berniece Rabe, an award- winning author with over 30 years of experience in the business. With positive and constructive feedback, I began to view myself as a writer, not just as a guy who wanted to write. With one or two chapters per week, my book began to take shape.
Berniece referred me to an editor she knew at Henry Holt. With trembling hands I mailed my novel, preparing to wait forever. Twenty-seven days later it came back. Thinking it had been rejected, I instead found a personal letter from the editor suggesting I cut 100 pages and try again. I went right to work, managed to slash sixty-five, and fired it off. Eight weeks later I got the phone call of my dreams. I’m a real writer now!
Fear of rejection kept me from writing for 20 years – but when I finally stepped up to the plate, I hit a home run on the first pitch!
Bryan Fields first novel, Lunchbox and the Aliens, is scheduled for release in spring of 2007 from Henry Holt Books For Young Readers. He’s hard at work on the sequel.