David Oppegaard on Getting Published
June 10, 2010
I could talk about many different aspects about my path to publication--how I got lucky and found an awesome literary agent, surviving a graduate school writing program, working a variety of jobs to pay the bills while writing at night--but I think the most important aspect of my particular story is the words I've left behind.
Or books, actually. My first published novel was actually my fifth novel, and my second published novel was my seventh. In total, I've shelved five complete novels, another half-finished novel, and about sixty short stories, all of which I don't expect to see the light of day again. They've ranged from purely literary to sci-fi to dark fantasy, and they all had one thing in common: I loved writing them, but they weren't good enough. I was still finding my voice. I was still a writing apprentice.
I've met beginning writers, and received emails from several more, who fully expect their first novel to be published and find success in the marketplace. They're itching to be published, and published now. Which is totally possible, I admit. More than one first novel has emerged to acclaim and good sales numbers. But for every one of those first novels, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others that have wisely been shelved by their authors after much revision, sweat, and tears. Which is how it should be, right? You don't learn to be a surgeon by operating on one patient, or how to fly an airplane by flying in one simulation. You write one book, learn as much as you can from it, and move on to the next.
So, by all means, feel free to write an apprentice novel (or six) without the pressure of publication breathing down your neck. Developing writing craft is a marathon, not a sprint. Write a dozen short stories that baffle even yourself, and then write a dozen more. There's no magic number of words to be reached and then POOF, you're a published author. It's just you and the page and a lot of beverages, and whatever may come beyond that is just icing on the cake.
About David Oppegaard
is the author of the Bram Stoker nominated The Suicide Collectors and Wormwood, Nevada. David grew up in the small town of Lake Crystal, MN and wrote his first book at the age of fifteen, a 400-page science fiction novel. Since then, he has written several more novels, some published, most not, and is currently working on his 10th novel. Each book has been different, ranging somewhere between literary fiction, speculative fiction, horror fiction, and dark fantasy.
David holds a B.A. in English Literature from St. Olaf College and an M.F.A. in Writing from Hamline University. A finalist for the Indiana Review Fiction Award and the Iowa Fiction Award, David has worked as an optician, a receptionist at the U of MN, a standardized test scorer, a farm hand, an editorial assistant, a trash picker for St. Paul public housing, a library circulation assistant, and as a child minder on a British cruise ship. He currently lives in the Midway area of St. Paul, MN.
David Oppegaard Profile at OnceWritten.com