I have often talked about Nicholas Sparks with great reverence here at The Writer’s Refuge. Then why such a negative headline for this blog post? Did I not enjoy his novel, The Best of Me? Did this, his latest effort, not live up to the ten #1 New York Times bestsellers that preceded it?
Who am I to criticize one of the world’s most beloved storytellers with no less than 77 million copies of his books sold and six adapted into major motion pictures? Well, I’m not criticizing him; I’m simply making a point to all writers who have been discouraged because an agent or editor made you rewrite half your novel. After all, that never happens to bestselling authors. Once they’re established, everything they write is a virtual gold mine. The writer writes, the editor edits, the agent promotes, they all make money and everybody is happy, right? Not quite.
I was stunned when Nicholas Sparks admitted to his readers in his e-newsletter that his editor made him rewrite half of this novel. Really, half the novel? At this stage of his career? Most of his books are bestsellers! Why the extensive rewrite? I don’t know. But that’s not the point. The point is the path to publication is a “process” and even the most accomplished writers must go through that process. And the author rewrites until he/she and the editor agree that “they” got it right.
How did I feel as an aspiring novelist when Nicholas Sparks had to rewrite half of his 17th novel? Honestly, I whispered to myself, “See how it feels.” Suddenly, the king became the common man. However, when I regained my senses—and my perspective—I realized the messages here. You cannot circumvent the publication process. Even bestsellers are unhappy with their work sometimes. Writing, good writing, doesn’t always get easier with experience. Good writing is good rewriting. And if a New York Times and international bestseller has to rewrite his work what is the probability that I will have to rewrite mine?
By listening to Sparks talk about this experience in his newsletter, I could sense his humility and his positive attitude and my admiration for him clicked up yet another notch. (I didn’t think that was possible.) He understands and respects the process. No shortcuts. Resume doesn’t matter.
Now, when I feel defeated by the inevitable challenges of the writer’s life, I take a lesson from an author who has had his work translated into more than forty languages. Accept it, get over it, get on with it.
Just when I thought my favorite author suffered a serious setback, you might say, he got the best of me.
The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.
Blog entries are posted on Thursday.
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