Guest Post by Nicholas Gagnier!

I'm very excited to share our first guest post from Nicholas Gagnier, author of  the Olivia and Hale series and founder of Free Verse Revolution.  

            Writing is a hard business. It is a game of expectations, like any creative endeavor one chooses as a profession. To most people, writing is merely a communicative tool, like reading or speaking. Transcribe what you need to, turn it in, and forget about it.

            To a writer, especially a fiction writer, it is an absurd formula of characters and story paired with proper syntax, manically perfected over and over, hoping to stand out from the crowd long enough to secure the ever-elusive publishing contract. To the average person, who may not give the physical act of writing something a second more thought than necessary, our excitement can be unfathomable. Our families and friends can be morally supportive but seemingly bored hearing the proud author talk about it. And those sales numbers aren’t going anywhere, are they?

Concerning the fickle, franchise-conditioned consumer, striking gold in an era where anyone can publish a book and audiences are saturated with possibility can seem equally out of reach.

            My daughter, who is seven and has recently begun to notice Dad publishes books and that they are as real as anything in her school library, wants to be a writer. You know, because monkey see. Growing up, I had no one to really applaud that creative spirit and nurture it, so I am really proud of her and do just that. At that same time, as I am saying here, you don’t set out on this path without complete and total commitment.

            I was recently rejected by an agent. I didn’t tell the kid about it yet, because it’s not something I attempt very often anymore, and I’m not ready to pour cold water on her little dream. And still, the message of that kindly-worded rejection letter rings clear- this is a hard business, and what’s right for one person is wrong for another.

There are two lessons I have learned about writing- the first, being receptive to criticism is a skill, and you have to be able to see through the sting for the lesson. I used to get really defensive if someone challenged my ideas, and now I kind of await the day someone lobs a one-star review at me, to see what I can take from it. (At the same time, please don’t take that as an invitation!)

The second lesson was to stop writing for an audience, and write what I wanted. I might write some YA romance, sell a million copies and get there the easy way, but no. I want to write about the darkness in men and the broken heroes who rise up against it. I want to write about every day, struggling people who unwittingly stand up to save the world.

Self-publishing is a business, and the learning curve can be both steep and expensive. It is simply not enough to be writer, living in an age where screens outnumber books, print media is constantly cited as endangered and the pool of talent is so large.

I started writing at eight years old, splitting my creative interests between poetry and fiction. Seven years ago, I created Free Verse Revolution, which started as a vehicle for my own poetry and has flourished into a multi-platform poetry project for multiple writers.

On the fiction side, I have written seven novels, published four of a series and will release the finale this summer. I have been rejected by at least a hundred agents and publishers over the years, and faced far more disappointments than success. But when my daughter makes a folded mass of papers with weird, kindergarten-level storylines and atrocious examples of paragraphs, I can’t tell her any of this. All she cares about is “Dad writes books” and tells her friends, teacher and whomever else will listen to her yammer on about it.

And that’s when it occurs me, I already have the only audience I’ll ever need.

Keep writing, my friends.

Nicholas Gagnier is the author of the Olivia & Hale series, which includes Leonard the Liar, Mercy Road, Founding Fathers and Dead’s Haven. He is the creator of Free Verse Revolution, a poetry project across social media platforms like Wordpress and Facebook.

He lives in Ottawa, Canada.