It's like you decide you want to be a writer, but life gets in the way. I don't mean in a bad way - you pursue your career to make a living after you find you can't as a writer or get married, then have children, raise them, enjoy them and then you decide you have the time to write that novel you always wanted to write.
Patry like myself and others I'm sure knew as a child that we wanted to be writers, but life got in the way - she was a waitress for 25 years before The Liar's Diary was published, and she has a family and I'm writing my fourth unpublished novel after 25 years of my adult life and raising three children.
She called two earlier novels she wrote, her practice novels and this too seems to be a right of passage for all novelists. Stephen King wrote five novels before his first was published and Dean Koontz wrote four; John Grisham self published his first novel.
But I think there is more to this - you have to live life to have enough experiences to write a novel. I remember when I was 17 and I sat down to write a novel. The thoughts didn't come; the page remained blank and then I realized I didn't have anything to say. I hadn't lived long enough to form my unique view of the world - my writer's view of the world. In fact, the more I write the clearer my vision becomes and what I want to say.
Patry certainly had perseverance to keep her dream alive all of her life and she had the passion to follow through. It seems that this is what it takes to be a writer, a published writer because we are all writers; we all have a unique voice and a unique view of the world. Of all the advice I've received and read from published writers, agents, and others in the business the one thing they all said is to keep trying and never give up.
Passion will help you persevere, but you have to love what you do to sustain your efforts. Love drives everything. Years ago when I was into sailing and a good friend of mine, an older man who had sailed all his life said, "We must be crazy to be into sailing." What he meant was that it took so much time, effort, work, and expense to maintain our sailboats for those rare occasions when the wind, the water, and your skills to get the boat moving perfectly all worked harmoniously and you glided across the water effortlessly, freely, and in sync with nature. Those rare times were the Holy Grail of sailing and we all doggedly pursued it with an addiction that was unprecedented. It was the common thread that held all of us together like an extended family. It was simply love - love of what we were doing and it sustained us through the best and worst of times.
Writing is the same. There is a tremendous amount of time, effort, and doubt to produce the products of our craft, but we still do it despite the odds simply because we love to.
To catch the interview with Patry Francis, visit the Algonkian Writers Conferences site by clicking on The Literary Life and How to Live It.