Friday, August 24, 2007


Six years ago today I waltzed out of The Mountaineer newspaper office a free woman.
No more early mornings leading to late nights covering events. No more weekend work. No more deadlines.

I’d liberated myself from the tyranny of a regular paycheque.
No more social interaction either. Those days were behind me.
It took some getting used. For several weeks I had this posted on my refrigerator: “Do not go to the office. You don’t work there anymore.”
I was set to devote my time to writing. My plan was simple.

1. Write a book.
2. Get it published.
3. Earn royalties.

I was so sure that by now I’d have book on the shelf. It’s what I want.
Writing’s gratifying. Getting money for it is great. But it’s the satisfaction-–I presume—of wandering around better bookstores everywhere and seeing a book with my name on it that really speaks to me.

I recall reading somewhere on the Absolute Write Water Cooler about it taking 10 years from starting a manuscript to getting something publishable published.
Seems to me this was an average. Exceptions abound. Some writers get published right away. Others never.
I choose to believe I’m somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Just because I’m not there yet doesn’t mean I won’t ever be. If this average holds out for me, then I’ve only got four more years of writing, learning, editing, submitting, and being rejected to go.

Six years ago I though it was easy. I was wrong.
Today is the anniversary of that particular bit of cockeyed optimism. I will celebrate later by making note of the rejection from Kensington that I received the other day.

Seems fitting.


bunnygirl said...

Lucky you, to not need a regular paycheck! If Texas doesn't change its retirement rules in the next 15 years, I'll be in that same boat at 55. It's highly unlikely I'll quit working for pay, but I'm sooooo looking forward to knowing every day that what I'm doing with my time has no bearing on whether or not I eat or pay the light bill! That's the REAL tyranny of the paycheck, you know. :-)

Given your background, I'm sure you can get published. Genre and market play much bigger roles than actual writing ability, so depending on what you write, it could take longer than "average." But hang in there!

Leah J. Utas said...

Bunnygirl- It would be nice to be earning money. I will someday.
Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Virginia Lee said...

Leah, I have absolute faith in your ability to publish many books. I find it hard to believe that I can't go to a bookstore now and ask for a book by you already.

Keep plugging, hon. I believe in you!

Leah J. Utas said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you Virgina Lee. What a lovely thing to say.

Anonymous said...

Hey, cousin! I have no doubt that you will be published. It will happen. At least you are writing, rather than just sitting around thinking about it, like I do! (Has it really been SIX years?!)

Crabby McSlacker said...

Oh Leah, I can so relate to this post!

I was also fortunate enough to be able to abandon a professional career in order to write. But at least for me, I find it can be hard on the ego to have nothing to "show" for my efforts after many years. At least before I had a professional identity!

Good luck with your efforts. I figure the fact that it takes a long time will just make the eventual success stories all the more fun to tell. Keep pluggin' away and I'm sure the day will come.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks, cousin, athough to be honest I've done more thinking about it than writing these past few weeks.

You've got a good point there, Crabby. The better stories later.
Interesting about the professional identity. Leaving who you were to become who you are is quite a trip.

Terrie Farley Moran said...


Writing isn't easy, and now I am learning that getting published is harder still.

It will take as long as it takes. I enjoy what I have written so far--one novel, three short stories. I am reaping rejections on the novel, have one short story coming out in an anthology this Fall and am waiting to hear on the other two.

And I am writing another short. (I do like that form.)

If I may be so bold: the reason we are not working at our other jobs is: we wanted to write and not punch a clock while we are doing it.

If you are in a hurry, you could get a time clock . . .


isabella mori said...

hi leah, long time no see. interesting that i would bump into this PARTICULAR blog post.

i had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine about that the other day.

"people CAN make money from what they love", she said, "but you have to concentrate at least as much on the money making as on doing the thing that you love."


at any rate, leah, happy anniversary, and KEEP ON TRUCKING!

Leah J. Utas said...

Terrie Farley Moran - You're right. We didn't want to punch a clock.
I had to laugh at your remark about getting a time clock.
Glad to hear you've got a story coming out. I wish you good news on the other two, and everything else you send out in the future.

Isabella it's been an age! Glad to see you.
Your friend is wise. Thanks for the anniversary wishes.

Talia Mana said...

Yep getting published is hard work, but you plan to persevere so good on you!

I think platform and a good query letter go a long way.