"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"
Take it away, Andy!
It's tough to come up with one thing without cheating. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Steve Laube and Andy McGuire.) And tough to come up with something that hasn't already been said.
But I do have one thing that I think is very important when it comes to the lifestyle of being an aspiring novelist. Communication is cheap, and as a result, there's plenty of recycled wisdom and free praise to be had, especially online. Disconnect from the web and spend your time at your local library. Read and savor the brilliant writers of the past fifty years. Study classic writing instruction from authors who are experienced and knowledgeable (my standbys are Orson Scott Card on characters and viewpoint and Obstfeld's book on crafting scenes). Watch great TV and film. Writing (and storytelling) is an art form, like painting, dancing, playing the piano. Before a pianist makes a public performance, there's usually a decade or so of private lessons and intense personal study of history, heroes, technique. Very few are brilliant enough to sit down one day and play Rachmaninoff, or in our case, write well.
My mom would call this "always having your nose stuck in a book". And that's my advice.
--Andy Meisenheimer, Acquisitions Editor, Zondervan. Visit Andy online at his blog here.