In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of www.cynthialeitichsmith.com, I asked some first-time authors the following question:
As a debut author, what are the most important lessons you've learned about your craft, the writing life, and/or publishing, and why?
Here's the latest reply, this one from author Zu Vincent:
A novel weaves its own brand of magic in connecting with readers. That's what has hit home to me since The Lucky Place (Front Street, 2008) was launched.
I've published in other areas so I was totally surprised by this gift. Readers really do express a deeper appreciation when a writer produces a novel; at least they have to me.
I think this comes with the investment of time and emotion we put into books. I know I invest more heavily when reading a novel. It's like taking a journey with a total stranger who, through harrowing circumstances, ends up being your close friend.
Now I'm on the other side of this process, and it's amazing. Readers are expressing how they felt on their journey with my words. How gratifying is that?
When you're writing a book the responsibility is to yourself. To open your soul and find whatever truth is there to tell. After it's out in the world, you realize just how important that honesty is for readers. That's when the consequences take hold. It's not just about you now.
Readers will catch you out if you haven't done your best. Not that you have to be the best in the world, just the best you can be. It makes the next book all the more exciting to write. And all the more challenging.
You have to take yourself seriously, but then again, you can't take yourself too seriously, either.