Currently reading - Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand
I'm in the weird position of making money on non-fiction and still looking for that first fiction contract. As such, newbie writers will ask me for advice because in their minds I'm not as scary as, say, Nora Roberts. (Who I almost ran over with my car at an RWA convention, but that's another story.)
Invariably, my doe-eyed innocent wants feedback on their manuscript from me. (Yeah, I know. I snorted coffee through my nose the first time it happened too.)
My time's valuable. And no, this isn't the ego of the ex-attorney talking. This is the two part-time jobs, trying to get a hurricane-damaged house fixed and on the market, home-schooling mom talking. I just can't do it all.
So I've taken to asking the wet-behind-the-ears writer a question, "Have you finished the first draft yet?"
Yeah, you know what the answer is. My follow-up question, "Have you finished anything yet? And the angsty poems you wrote in high school don't count."
[insert chirping crickets] (Damn, I really need to find a sound bite for this.)
*sigh* If there's any rule in the business, it's this: Unless you got a contract in hand, you've got to finish the damn book first. IMHO, that's the real test of finding success in this crazy world of writing.
A while ago, I belonged to a lovely critique group once, friendly folks who'd go out of their way for a person. I had to leave because most of the members rehashed the same first chapter over and over again. And in the mumble, mumble time since I left that group, I've finished two novels. As far as I know, only one other person has finished one as well.
So if you only make one goal for yourself this year, finish the fucking book.