A Writing Career Path: Finding the Joy

While writing a book wasn’t the start of my writing career, I do remember when I decided to write a book and how the excitement of possibilities appealed to me.

At the time, I was reading a book a day—mostly romances. Those slim, Silhouette and Harlequin romance books that had new titles every month. The books read fast and left me feeling good and filled with hope.

How hard could it be to write them?

Actually, it was way harder than I had imagined. While it looks easy, it really isn’t. It took me a year and a half to write that first book. Selling it was another matter altogether.

It took writing five books to learn about determination, needing a plan (more like an outline), diligence, and sheer grit. Along with agony and disappointment.

I was writing the first few books in an era where there were no computers, only typewriters. Where you had to have an agent in order to submit your manuscript to the publisher. And, where all manuscripts were mailed via USPS, where it could take months or a year to hear back from the agent, let alone the publisher.

Thankfully, the computer came into being amid writing those books. Rewriting became easier. Not much else became easier, though.

Early in my career, I was successful in writing short nonfiction via a newspaper column and then magazine articles. Writing nonfiction, whether creative nonfiction, academic, or technical came easy and still does. I was published in nonfiction within a couple years.

Writing fiction, however, was much harder and required a lot of trial and error. I wrote piles of romance short stories before attempting my first novel.

I remember taking one of those Harlequin books and wrapping it using the brown paper from a paper bag like we used to do with school textbooks, and I put my book’s title on the cover along with my name. I planted that book in front of my typewriter.

I had a goal.

It would take 12 years before I would publish my first book. I nearly gave up in the 10th year. Why? I had sworn that if I hadn’t published a book by the time I was 40, I’d stop trying. When I turned 40, I was too close to quit.

In fact, one author friend said, “Diana, it’s like your heels are on the edge of the cliff and yet you don’t fall off the cliff. I don’t get why you aren’t published.” My heels had been on that cliff for over seven years.

I didn’t get it either. I’d had two agents come and go, I placed in contests, and every editor said they loved my writing, but…

At 42, it took my being in the right place at the right time to connect with an editor whose publication house was entering the romance genre for me to become a published author. My book was their introduction into the field and they hyped that book heavily.

Two more books published with another house followed quickly, with a sale of a fourth book to yet another house.

Since then, it’s been a fun-filled journey of writing—screenplays, stage plays, poetry, academic writing, a dissertation, more contests, more awards, blogging, and becoming an indie publisher where I’ve now published 14 books, with plans for several more publications this year; Tangled Passions, the fifth book in a series of seven was published on Valentine’s Day.

My writing career has endured the highs and the lows for over fifty years, and finally, after much experimentation and meeting various challenges, I’m finding the genres where my writing joy truly thrives.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the entire journey. It’s been quite the process where the joys outweighed the disappointments. Even the frustrations were short-lived.

May everyone experience such joy.


This year, Dr. Stout expects to publish the last two romance novellas in the Laurel Ridge Novella series, a writer’s resource book, a historical Gothic romance for an anthology, along with a comedy screenplay. Additionally, she’s plotting a Gothic novel and finishing up several other writer resource books. In June, she’ll be teaching a two-week Master Class, “Using (& Avoiding) Procrastination.” To learn more, click here. If interested, sign up soon! Class is limited to 25.


Purpose of The Insecure Writer’s Group: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting.


About Diana Stout

Screenwriter, author, former English professor
This entry was posted in #IWSG, Inspiration, Motivation, Publishing books, Writer at Work, writing, Writing Behind the Scenes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Writing Career Path: Finding the Joy

  1. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to write and revise a manuscript on a typewriter. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your publishing journey so much, even with some lows.


    • Diana Stout says:

      There weren’t a lot of revisions back in those days. Editors were making the majority of them, then. Times have changed! If I had to go back to the typewriter, I think my writing days would be over. Thanks for visiting. 🙂


  2. Diane Burton says:

    Enjoyed reading the beginnings of your writing career. Perseverance. Key is enjoying the journey. Best wishes on your upcoming release.


  3. Nancy Gideon says:

    I remember the journey well! The soooo close. The “I’m done! I’ll never sell a book!” The “I’m not good enough!” Glad you listened to those who knew you could do it!!


  4. A fun-filled journey of writing? Sounds great .. Still hoping – and today, thinking three ultimately unsuccessful journeys with three of the five means I shouldn’t give up. (yet)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nick Wilford says:

    What a great journey you’ve been on. You persevered and look how it paid off.

    Liked by 1 person

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