"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"
Don't be in a hurry. Most aspiring fiction writers so crave the published-novelist mantle that they forget the responsibilities that come with it. If you sell a novel tomorrow, you will:
1) Probably be expected to turn in another, even better than this one, in less than a year,
2) While writing that second novel, you will be expected to promote and help market the first one (probably while still working your day job),
3) In the meantime you'll be proposing and researching future books (see note above about the day job),
4) Meanwhile you'll be responding to readers' letters, speaking to book clubs and doing interviews,
5) And, in short, writing becomes work.
Were I starting out today, I would write an amazing book and then polish, revise it and make it even more amazing while I wrote a second one. And THEN I would start thinking about selling them. The popular illusion is that writing is freedom, but the truth is that it is a craft that requires lots of attention. Get ahead of the curve as much as you can. If you become a successful writer, you will never again enjoy the luxury of time that is yours right now.
--Tom Morrisey, author of many novels including Wind River, In High Places, and the upcoming Pirate Hunter. Visit him online at his website.