Most literary agents, editors and publishers claim that you have to be an exceptionally talented writer so that your first manuscript will be accepted for publication and will also be a success.
I personally don’t think that only talent will lead you to being a published author. It may have been true in previous times but not at present. No. No matter what they say, unless you are extremely lucky your first manuscript is not going to be published, nor is it going to be a success. Proof, Fifty Shades of Grey. You have to have a tremendous amount of luck, or already be famous to make it into the publishing world nowadays.
My story is not different than others who want to write. When I started, I knew nothing whatsoever about writing. I mean I knew how to spell words, I knew my grammar, I knew how to form proper sentences, I knew all that was taught in school. And above all I knew I wanted to write. I was living in Dubai then and there was no one I could turn to for help. There was no one I could talk to even about writing, about books. There was no internet at the time and there was no public library I could go to for research. Not even a proper bookstore where you could buy English books.
I had seen an advertisement in one of the local newspapers for a creative writing correspondence course in England. So I enrolled in it. At first I did my assignments with great enthusiasm. My tutor corrected my mistakes, he even said he liked some of what I wrote. But I felt I was in school again going over what I already knew and wasting my time. I became frustrated with the lessons and eventually dropped them. Only to enroll in another correspondence course later. This time I learnt a great deal from the course. I learnt how to plan and plot, how to use dialogue to help move my story along, and I learnt all the different techniques of writing. I finished one course and enrolled in yet another more specific course, this time in the US.
I ordered magazines and books and read all about writing. But did they get me into print? No. Did they teach me to write? I honestly can’t say. But the community of bloggers and WordPress did more to me than any of those courses. I learned to write more in one year from blogging and following other blogs than from all those years I spent on courses. Writing frequently and trying to interact with the vast community of bloggers has taught me how to better myself as a writer than any teacher or any course has ever done.
The belief that “writing should be an end in itself” might not resonate as true for us beginning writers. As Richard North Patterson wrote:
“In my view, writing is an incomplete act unless it is shared with others, one writes, after all, to communicate one’s sensations and impressions to other people. To aspire to any less is not writing- it is a form of hobbyism, more akin to therapy. I don’t suggest that people shouldn’t write for personal pleasure, but a serious writer should write to be read.”