There’s a great interview with Max Brooks (Author of World War Z) over at SF Crows Nest. He discusses his work as a writer, but also gives some great advice for aspiring authors and touches on something I feel very strongly about: Regret.
SFC: Is there anything about your writing career that you would do differently, if you had the chance?
MB: Yes. I would have had the courage to publish earlier. The big problem with writing a novel is there’s nobody to blame or hide behind. It’s purely you and the audience and I think that’s very scary. When I was writing for ‘Saturday Night Live’, if a sketch didn’t work, we writers could blame the cast or the audience. As a novelist, you have none of those defences. I wish I had had the courage earlier in my career, because I’ve been writing since I was twelve, but I didn’t want my stuff to get out. So that’s a regret.
THIS. This is why I chose to publish my own work. My stories won’t be perfect, but I know how many of you enjoy them and I want you to be part of my journey as I grow and develop as an author. I love the Tales of the Captain Duke as they are, but I’m thrilled to see what I’ll be writing in ten years, twenty years, fifty years!
Many, many, many people have asked me about self-publishing and how I chose to do it myself. Many have told me of their own unfinished tales. Well, there is no alchemical transformation for aspiring writers to become successful authors. It takes writing your story, page by page, for as long as it takes, until it is done. It takes courage to cross that threshold of letting others read your work. It takes acceptance that everyone needs a good editor, that perfection is something you may strive for but are unlikely to attain (and you may find you prefer imperfection after all). Start now. It may take months, years, or decades, but one day you will have a story in front of you.
Most authors will tell you some variation of this theme. I leaned on their words of wisdom while developing my own voice. When I felt like giving up, I would remember the time when Neil Gaiman told me to finish things and said I would do just fine. I would research advice from authors and try to learn from the best. And in the end, I had to hit that big, scary button: “Publish.”
Everyone has a story. I will say this a thousand thousand times. Everyone has a story. I’m so excited to share my books with you, and I can’t wait to read yours one day.