Harder to return than arrive

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The journey is the destination, but making a living as a writer requires you to arrive at a moment when someone else invests in your talent. You might be a fiction writer selling a novel, or a non-fiction writer getting a proposal picked up, or a screenwriter seeing a treatment accepted with the follow-on screenplay assignment.

Of if you’re looking at self-publishing, the PayPal purchase notices and checks from readings go into your bank account. But you have arrived. Enjoy the moment. This might not be the hardest route to complete on your journey as a writer, says the screenwriter of W.

The movie that opened this weekend was written by Stanley Weiser. He wrote the screenplay for Wall Street, another Oliver Stone film. Weiser has this to say, in an interview with the Web site StoryLink, about what a writer faces after first success:

It was hard miles in the beginning. The problem is that once you start out and you have a movie, you think you’ve arrived. But once you have the break, it’s harder to come back than it is to arrive. It’s a long road. You have to keep reinventing yourself.

I’ve heard this second-book effect described another way, from the perspective of being in your first book, completing it and getting though publication. This first arrival is the only time in your career that you’re writing with no expectations from the public, a publisher, editors and reviewers. You get to invent yourself as a writer and your story as you know it. The next time out, you will be measured not only by that internal conscience of a creator, but the readers, viewers and your business partners, all of whom will look to your prior work.

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