Isn't there an easy road to writing success?


Dear Literary Ladies,
Like most writers, I want to be published, and truth be told, I’d love to be successful. But I’ve heard so many stories of long years of toil, false starts, and tons of rejection. Isn’t there an easier way? I’d prefer to become an overnight success, earn fame and fortune, and avoid all the struggle.


I can only say to you as I do to the many young writers who ask for advice—There is no easy road to successful authorship; it has to be earned by long and patient labor, many disappointments, uncertainties and trials. Success is often a lucky accident, coming to those who may not deserve it, while others who do have to wait & hope till they have earned it. This is the best sort and the most enduring.

I worked for twenty years poorly paid, little known, and quite without any ambition but to eke out a living, as I chose to support myself and begin to do it at sixteen . . . “Little Women” was written when I was ill, and to prove that I could not write books for girls. The publisher thought it flat, so did I, and neither hoped much for or from it. We found out our mistake, and since then, though I do not enjoy writing “moral tales” for the young, I do it because it pays well.

But the success I value most was making my dear mother happy in her last years & taking care of my family. The rest soon grows wearisome & seems very poor beside the comfort of being an early Providence to those we love.

—Louisa May Alcott, from a letter, 1878

3 comments:

Nava Atlas July 18, 2009 at 5:55 PM  
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Nava Atlas July 18, 2009 at 5:58 PM  
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Eileen Williams July 19, 2009 at 4:07 PM  

Nava,
Thank you so much for finding this quote from the amazing Louisa May Alcott. Boy, can I relate to her thoughts on writing and getting published as I had my own roller coast ride of ups and downs for years. As yet, my book remains unpublished, but writing is the best recyclable around and, after knowing that what she went through, I might just get back on that roller coaster and ride it for all its worth!

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Wouldn't you love to get advice from  classic women authors on writing and the writer's life? Here I fancifully pose the questions, and the Literary Ladies answer in their own words.

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