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Dear Indie Annie,

How do I know I’m good enough? Writing a book takes time and effort. What if my novel is utter rubbish? I’ll have wasted all that time and effort.

Wasting time in Wabasca

Dear Wasbasca,

I do love a time waster.  

In fact, like many writers, I like nothing better than to spend my day researching little-known facts on the internet. 

And your question prompted me to check the population of Wasbasca on the Alberta Open Government Website. You probably already know this but I was fascinated to discover that the population of your hometown stands at 166, only because your little community welcomed another bundle of joy this past year, bless their tiny cotton socks, or you would still be resting happily at a majestic 165. 

Also, I learned that the local airport serves a wider population of roughly ten times that amount across several Indian reserves. The name “Wasbasca” derives from the Cree word for White Grass and the river that runs through the territory.

I could go on, but I won’t.

To answer your question, “Have I just been wasting my time?” 

Possibly. 

But, then again, I could argue (and I will) that, well, thanks to the beautiful people at IAM, I am actually being paid to read, consider, research, and respond to your question. While many reading this response will agree that I have totally wasted my time and IAM has blown their hard-won dollars on an old hack trying to justify her meager paycheck, others will understand exactly what I am trying to illuminate here with this quite brilliant analogy.

Everything can be a waste of time if you consider it to be so. 

And everything that isn’t a waste of time takes effort.

Do you consider honing your craft a worthwhile activity? Do you want to be a great writer, or is this a passing fancy? Do you want to create stories that take people away from the tedium of their humdrum existence? Or perhaps you have a wealth of knowledge that will transform their lives when expertly packaged. Maybe what you write will be deemed by many to be the ramblings of a romantic wannabe with zero talent, or perhaps your particular brand of pulp fiction will develop a cult following that will spawn a merchandising frenzy across the globe.

The real question is, do you think it is worth the time and effort to find out?

If your answer to that question is yes, then the ultimate acid test of whether you have wasted your time and effort will lie in what happens next. How will you measure success?

What, in your mind, will determine if it was worth it?

For many, it is the process: writing a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. For some, it will be when they hit publish; others, when they hold the printed proof copy in their hands. Then it could be your first page read on KDP or the first hundred books sold. Maybe it will be your first five-star review that wasn’t from a friend or family member. For the really sadistic, it will be the honor badge of that one-star review. Then you will know you have made it.

How much do you need?

For me, it’s a simple trifecta: to be a New York Times bestseller, get that elusive movie deal, and have my own rabid fan hold me captive in the mountains while I bring her favorite character back to life.

As to the question, are you good enough, yada, yada? There really is only one way to find out. In the words of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, “Publish and be damned.”

He meant that he didn’t care for his reputation, and my beloved one, neither should you. 

You will still have achieved what many merely dream of doing. It may be a hard fight to get there, but I am sure the Duke of Wellington would agree: It is a battle worth entering.

Happy writing,

Indie Annie 

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Indie Annie

Have questions about your own writing and publishing? Ask Indie Annie, our take on the advice column, penned by an irreverent and sassy avatar with a flair for fashionable scarves and a tipple in her teacup.

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