what unpublished authors can learn from J.K. Rowling

I’ll make it no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. So, of course, I was shocked when news leaked that Potter author J.K. Rowling had secretly released a who-dun-it mystery novel under a male pseudonym.

The book industry exploded. Every publishing authority had something to say about it on Twitter. Bloggers were quick to offer their two cents on the matter. J.K. Rowling had done a disservice to unpublished authors, some believed.

Not this unpublished author.

Of all of the words floating around on the internet, there were a few that immediately resonated with me. On her Robert Galbraith website, J.K. Rowling explains:

“As for the pseudonym, I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer.”

The metaphorical concept of seasons is important to me. To be honest, I can lose perspective quickly if I don’t find little things to be grateful for in the midst of difficult or less-than-glamorous times in my life.

While I wouldn’t call this stage of my writing career less-than-glamorous or unenjoyable by any means, it can be easy for pre-published authors to focus so much on the future that they miss the fun and adventure that this stage of the game affords. There’s something about the self-discovery of carving a new path that you just can’t get back once you’re accountable to agents and editors and public expectation.

Granted, if Karen Kingsbury decided to jump on the Amish zombie romance ship, we’d probably still buy it. {Yes, that’s a thing. But no, that’s not the point.}

Whether I’m squeezing my story into a synopsis-sized hole (Sorry, lovely critique partners!), composing my elevator pitch that will hook, line, and blow everyone out of the water, or playing the waiting game with an editor or agent, I’m going to try to remember the shiny new feeling of honing the writing craft, learning the ropes of the industry, and you’d better believe it, going all fangirl on the big-time authors I’m going to meet at conference a month from now.

Because I believe someday my writing will give something unique back to readers, and I will own my rewarding responsibilities and enjoy that season, too. But I definitely don’t want to be the one saying “I wish it could have gone on a little longer.”

Unpublished authors, what have you enjoyed most about this *season*? Authors with a few books under your belt, what do you miss most?

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  • A nice thing about the season as an unpublished writer is if something comes up and I have to stop working for awhile (as happened recently while my dad was ill) I don’t have to worry about deadlines, or even letting the publisher know that I’m going to be delayed. That’s been a huge blessing.

    • Agreed! Not having that sort of pressure yet preserves a joy for the art of writing that I know I personally will have to be a lot more intentional about when deadlines loom!

  • I’m enjoying the time I have to hone my writing. I’m also enjoying the type of person I’m becoming as a result of pursuing this writing path. I’m discovering that I have more perseverence and inner strength than I thought I had when I first started.