Newbie to ?–crossing the great divide

The responses I received to Thursday’s post were wonderful and eye-opening.  They brought up a bunch of questions in my mind.  Namely, what is on the other side of newbie?

A while back, one of my dear writer friends was surprised to learn that I had joined Agent Query Connect at the same time she had.  Her reason, “You just seemed to know so much, like you’d been doing it forever.”

To clarify, I had.  Not on AQ, but in general, I had been writing, researching and learning the business for what felt like forever.

There’s a lot to know about the craft of writing and the business of publishing.  What I know can fill a thimble.  And yet, it is substantially more than I knew when I started out–back in the day when the mail was still delivered by snails and submission guidelines were requested via a SASE. 

The technology explosion has changed the landscape of the writing arena tremendously and writers are coming out of the closet much sooner and with less experience/understanding/practical education/practice under their belts than when I emerged. 

I had long ago “just finished” my first novel.  I had already read countless renditions of how to write a query and practiced 1001 times in 1001 ways to learn what worked and why.  I’d attended conferences, been critiqued by agents and editors and had worked over my manuscripts to the point of nausea.  I had also long since ceased believing that an agent would care if I had a dog, four kids and lived in a rambler.  In short, all those rookie myths and mistakes had been debunked and made years before I knew AQ existed.

Yes, I am agented (July 2010), and yes I have published (magazines, newsletters, articles, short stories, poetry, columns, etc).  Yet I would still consider myself a newbie in a lot of ways. 

  • I have not published a novel.
  • I have not published consistently to even consider myself a freelance writer.
  • I have not published in the juvenile lit arena, which is the bench mark I hold myself to as being able to cross the great divide.

So what am I? 

And how do we, as writers, know when we move from newbie-ism to the next level?  What is that next level and what, if any, new responsibilities does that hold? 

Inquiring minds want to know!

9 responses to “Newbie to ?–crossing the great divide

  1. You are a writer. Many people never get anything published. Novels are the hardest market to crack. Children’s lit is also hard to crack. If you want to be published I recommend romance novels. They are the only area of publishing that has actually grown in this down economy. The state of publishing is in terrible disarray with publishing houses buying fewer manuscripts and laying off people. Magazines are also hard hit. Quit beating yourself up.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

    • Ach, no romance novels in my future. At least not in the forseeable future.

      I’m solidly hooked on juvenile lit and have enjoyed every step of my journey. No frustration or self flagellation here, just pondering when we leave newbieness behind–if we ever do–and if we have a responsibility to others as we grow.

      Thanks for your input. I always appreciate hearing from others.

  2. I agree with John. If you write, you’re a writer. But I considered myself a newbie long after my first book was published because that’s when I found out what I didn’t know…especially about promotion and marketing.

    Even now I learn new stuff every day (at the age of 68+), so in a way, I’ll be a newbie forever.

    • “…that’s when I found out what I didn’t know…especially about promotion and marketing.”

      I hear the learning curve is pretty severe after publication. One I look forward to!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Good question – there’s a wide range between newbie and veteran.

    I knew zero before I stumbled onto AQC. I feel that site has helped me move from she-who-knows-zippidy-do-da to newbie. In some ways I’m much more experienced and knowledgeable than other newbies, but there’s still so much to learn.

    I’m also generally very hesitant about taking those ‘next steps’ – and that will keep me in the rookie stage for a long time – but I’m quite happy plodding along at my own pace! 🙂

  4. First of all, welcome back from hiatus. Missing that “lover”, eh? I missed it when I went on a one week writing workshop… these blogs are addicting! 😀
    To the post: I think it’s more a question of how much you have written, that the published/unpublished “level”. I consider myself a professional writer because I’ve been writing for so long I lost count of words written. But I’m still unpublished – which doesn’t mean that I suck, simply that I haven’t “dared to be bad” (as suggested by Dean Wesley Smith) and put my stuff out there yet (but next year you’ll definitely see me, haha!). So I guess the definition of newbie goes along with the definition of success. It changes from writer to writer, depending on skill, talent, dreams, aspirations, whatever…

    • Barb,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I love your quote about not yet daring to be bad. How funny, yet true.

      Taking that next step is an interesting one and I wish you the best when you make your debut!

  5. Still totally a newbie here, but maybe not a NEW newbie? I dunno, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. It’s nice having so many people who are one or two or many steps ahead of me to watch and learn from and listen to. 🙂

    • “It’s nice having so many people who are one or many steps ahead of me…” That’s exactly true. I love hanging on to one hand while I’m led on the writing path, while extending a hand behind to help others navigate the pitfalls. It’s a beautiful sense of give and take and oh so productive.

      Balance at its finest.

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