Not about the Money: Gains from Writing and Publishing a Novel

When I set out to write my novel Chasing Sylvia Beach, I had no idea that 13 years would pass before it came out into the world, with the surprising heft of an imagined thing made real.

I’ve been a writer for nearly twenty years and wanted to be one my whole life. I oriented myself early on to the notion that I probably wouldn’t make a lot of money or become famous for my writing.

With this in mind, I learned to love the process and to not bank on the result. As a coach, I believe that every project we work on works us, and that it’s our job to glean satisfaction from the process.

I published the book in late June, and it’s taken a few months to assess the boons. While I have seen my bank account grow, these benefits of writing the book far outweigh the money.

A sense of myself as a persistent person.

I am a person who finishes things. It took twelve years and seventeen drafts, but I did it. This ability to stay with a project despite setbacks and disappointments is a skill that will serve me again and again. I had finished other projects, another book and several e-books, but finishing this seemed like a bigger deal to me.

Integration of my personal and professional work.

A friend read a review copy of CSB. When she finished, she told me that she loved the book and felt inspired by it. She gushed about a new desire to write and was ready to pen her own stories.

I was surprised. Yes. my character wants to write and has her own turnaround to the page and the pen. But it wasn’t until readers got the novel that I saw I am transmitting the same beliefs that are core in my business:

  • Dare to live your own creative adventure.
  • Write your stories now. 

It’s odd how we can’t see what’s inside us until we put it into form. It’s even more amazing to see how the process of writing a novel was integrated into my business and personal life.

Of course, anything we write that is deeply considered will reflect our essence and the things we’re here to sort out. But it’s cool to see that reflected in our readers.

First-hand knowledge of what it takes to write a novel.

I’ve attempted almost every form of writing: play, screenplay, short story, essay, and poetry. I embarked on a novel because I love reading novels. When I started, I had no idea how to write a novel. I learned from doing it. Now I know much more about plotting, character development, pacing and the very nitty gritty of what to keep and what to leave out of a novel.

Deep, experiential understanding of the full arc of the creative process.

Writing this novel allowed me to test and test again the coaching solutions I provide for my clients. I have a deep knowledge of what it takes to overcome the inevitable roadblocks and distractions we all encounter in our writing and art making.

I know what works for me to get my creative work done and I know how to point clients to their best creative practices. This novel gave me a deep, experiential knowledge of what it takes to experience creative work in a healthy and sane way. Self-care, a solid support system, a physical practice and a deep connection to my motivation were all necessary to stay with it until the very end.

Understanding of the publishing and self-publishing industries.

To bring your work to the world, you have to know that world and its rules. When I was seeking publication for my book, I studied the publishing process: querying agents, preparing pitch materials, and of course, polishing my manuscript until it was perfect.

When I decided to self-publish, I had a lot of learning to do. Making a book includes dozens of decisions to be made and followed up on.

Self-publishing is one of the most dynamic and interesting fields you can be in these days. I’m far from abreast of everything that’s current, but I do follow a few writers who keep me in the loop:

What have I missed? What have you seen change in me from finishing this? What are some of your own boons from finishing your big projects? Share your experience in a comment below.

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