That old manuscript gathering dust? It may just be a pile of gold

gary-schwartzToday we hear from Gary Schwartz, author of The King of Average, who recounts a time when he brought an old, abandoned project back to life—to massive success. If you’ve got some inspiring advice to share, please send it in!

Here’s the problem: I never thought of myself as a writer. I had a great story that I liked to tell—verbally. Everyone I told my story to said the same thing: “You should write this down! It’s a great story for kids with issues like yours.”

So I wrote, like, twenty pages and then fizzled out on the follow-through.

I liked to bitch about it: “I can’t write. I’d rather just tell you.” But that was an excuse. Writing was daunting. I didn’t have an ending, just a premise.

Flash forward two decades to Christmas dinner 2008. I regaled my hosts with the premise for what would be a good book. Applause. Great story. What a great idea, etc.

My host, a marketing guy, urged me to write it.

“I tried,” I said. “I get twenty pages in and then…lose interest.”

“I challenge you,” he said. “I bet you can write thirty pages in thirty days. That’s one page a day. Show me thirty pages in one month and I’ll buy you lunch.”

“You’re on!”

So I sat down to move past the twenty-page barrier. Lo and behold, in three months, I had 360 pages. I was elated.

“I wrote a book!” I shouted to everyone. I showed it to my friend and handed it all around.

I did not get the reaction I expected. Good for you. Nice.

“Did you like the book?” I asked. I got a lot of polite responses, but no one was jumping up and down like I was. Oh, well.


If I can go from terrible writer to well-reviewed writer in only two years, anyone can.


I sat down a few months after the rush of the first draft wore off, and I was horrified to see this was terrible writing. Even I couldn’t get through it!

I knew I wasn’t a writer. This proved it. In the drawer it went.

It bothered me that I spent all this time and had a lousy manuscript. So I decided to find out why it was terrible. I got a writing mentor. Found her online. She was an award winning author in the genre I wrote in and evaluated and mentored writers for money. I sent her my manuscript. I had to know.

I got my manuscript back, blood red with revisions and twenty-eight pages of notes. I made my way through each note and rewrote the book. It took a year. I took classes and read about the art of writing.


“Congratulations. You have a great book. Good luck!”


I sent it back to her.

Soon I got another email. Only eighteen pages of notes. I spent another year, finding and naming the theme, outlining, rewriting, cruelly editing. At one point I said to myself, If I keep on editing I can get this novel down to a haiku. But now I was deep into the project and could not turn back.

I sent it back for another revision. I got a note from her: “Congratulations. You have a great book. Good luck!”

Only two years, and I went from hack to real writer.

It only took me sixty rejections before I got a publisher.

It came out and has gotten a Kirkus Star and IndieReader Top Books of Spring. But then my publisher went out of business.

I can’t stop now, so I’m independently publishing and continuing on my writing journey. Success or not, the fun is in the doing.

Moral of the story: don’t let anything stop you. If I can go from terrible writer to well-reviewed writer in only two years, anyone can. It only takes persistence and the help of a willing mentor and the thrill you get each step of the way.

My next goal: make this book as famous and influential as was the inspirational children’s books that moved me to write the book in the first place.

You can support Gary by sharing this on Facebook!

And be sure to visit Gary’s website, for his blog and more information about his book, The King of Average.

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8 thoughts on “That old manuscript gathering dust? It may just be a pile of gold

  1. Reblogged this on aimerboyz and commented:
    The book that was going to become a movie and get you on the Jimmy Fallon Show sucks. You’re going to delete your manuscript, uninstall Word and start using your laptop for what it was obviously meant for—games.
    Or…you can read Gary’s story and be inspired.

    Liked by 2 people

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