Some writers take a long time to find their stride and some stories take a long time to blossom. Consider Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees. While Sue has gone on to write more novels, her first remains beloved And popular.
Over the years, The Secret Life of Bees has sold millions of copies. Its first paperback edition spent two yeaRs on the best-seller list of the New York Times, and it’s been published in dozens of countries, including Brazil, China, Croatia, France, Greece, Latvia, and Turkey.
But the novel was a long time coming. Sue started out freelance writing and eventually penned several memoirs, She thought she’d simply be a nonfiction writer. But the desire to create fiction kept surfacing and finally, an image sprang up, of an adolescent girl lying in her bedroom while a swarm of bees squeezed through cracks in the wall and buzzed around her.
Inspired by this image, Sue wrote what she hoped would be a first chapter and took it to a writer’s conference where she was told it needed work but might be a publishable short story. She revised it and it was accepted by a literary journal.
For the next three years, she put her novel idea aside and wrote short stories, poured over literary fiction, took classes and worked on honing her craft. She applied for and was accepted to thePoet & Writer’s Writers Exchange Program where she had the chance to work with other writers and meet editors and agents. For one event, she pulled out her old “bees” novel story and read it. An agent approached her about turning it into a novel.
Energized by this encouragement, Sue recaptured her original vision and went on to write the novel that’s become her best-known creation. Her story was a slow build, but with help and perseverance, it grew.
What an inspiring publishing tale! You can’t rush creativity, and sometimes a stories takes years to blossom, but the results can be tremendously gratifying. Let’s keep this in mind as we all write on!