How to Publish Your First Novel at Fifty
1. Make the decision to become a novelist at seventeen years old.
2. Begin creative writing in earnest at twenty-five.
3. Take creative writing classes at a university with no true creative writing program.
4. Dream up half-baked ideas and force them into the short story form.
5. Get as much writing time as you can—lunch hours, nights, weekends, etc.
6. Ruminate on the page about all the thoughts and memories of your character.
7. Ignore the character’s interior and just detail every minute action in his or her day.
8. Complete a novel and revise it.
9. Send it to agents.
10. Appreciate the rejections for both the compliments and criticisms they contain.
11. Sacrifice more of your social life to devote to writing.
12. Even with this increased writing time, make time to read great books, including craft books.
13. Have a penchant for offbeat characters without wide appeal.
14. Go to graduate school and change the way you write.
15. Write and workshop a thesis that will one day embarrass you.
16. Graduate and begin to change your writing back to the way it was, only better.
17. Spend the next two years rewriting that graduate thesis.
18. Keep in contact with the awesome friends you make in graduate school.
19. Write another novel.
20. And then another.
21. Discover the style and subject matter you’ve developed has a name and an audience.
22. Read all of those writers you can find.
23. Curse fate that you didn’t discover these writers sooner.
24. Appreciate the gift that you did at all.
25. Read more of these books, especially new books from independent presses.
26. Sacrifice even more of your social life to devote to writing.
27. Write another novel of your own. Make it even better than the last.
28. Send it out to agents.
29. Appreciate the rejections for both the compliments and criticisms they contain.
30. Query small presses you like.
31. Get lucky.