Surprised. I mistakenly thought that only writers or others in literary circles could appreciate how mind-blowing it is to have someone publish your words, the toil of many years, sometimes decades. Many friends and readers, many I didn’t know personally, have been almost as excited as I was.
Incredible odds. People don’t need to know the statistics of how many good writers there are vying for publication, how many new MFAs are getting their degrees in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction every year, how many more men are getting published than women. All of this is true. People get it. Getting a book published can be compared to lightning striking.
VIDA. However, if you want some numbers, check out this web site: VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. We Count. It’s a nonprofit that has been tracking forty literary journals and other reputable magazines since 2010. The annual VIDA Count documents gender disparities in publishing. Their numbers represent what is happening in the larger publishing world.
Write a book? Never. Never. Uh-uh. Committing to write a book didn’t play in my imagination. When I became a writer, I wrote short pieces. I could visualize vignettes, personal essays and poetry. Never a book.
Lightbulb. However, I started writing and something happened. I realized that my stories were not just about me. The voices of local people born and living in Hawai’i were few and far between. These voices are important in the story of America, that is, the United States of America. Millions of people have some connection to these islands. And yet, our stories are not known, not told. Stories and diverse voices are essential in understanding ourselves, our country, our world. My consciousness of the importance of literature expanded in the creative process.
Kūlia. Persevere. I kept writing. I completed a manuscript. I started to submit it in 2014 to various book contests and wrote query letters to various publishers. Moments of deep discouragement halted my momentum from time to time, but I kept revising and submitting my manuscript over the years until Willow Books contacted me in March 2018: I had won their book contest! Finally, a publisher! My book The Lava Never Sleeps would be in bookstores out in the world. It is available as a paperback and an e-book.
No matter the odds, perseverance can make all the difference. Luck is good. So is talent. However, those who persevere through rejection after rejection, through disappointment and despondency (believe me, I know it’s tough!), are more likely to achieve their goals, i.e. getting published!