Student author: Publishing isn’t magical, easy
By Taylor Rexrode
Woodway senior Elizabeth Henning published her debut philosophical novel “The Conspirators” after four years of writing and editing while attending Baylor.
With graduation just around the corner, Henning sat down with the Lariat to speak about her writing process and her hopes for the future.
Q: How long have you been working on this book?
A: I started it my freshman year. It was inspired by a book I read in high school called “The Man Who Was Thursday” by G.K. Chesterton, which is like a philosophical detective novel. Since I was taking a lot of philosophy classes and I was interested in writing, I wanted to kind of pull that together.
I convinced the Honors College to let me use this book as my creative thesis and then after that, I submitted it to this publishing company. It took less than a year to get it published.
Q: The book is about 160 pages. Is there more of the story you want to write later?
A: It has potential for a prequel and a sequel. I kind of started working on a prequel in my last creative writing class; however, my writing style has changed so much since I wrote it that I’m not sure it would be fluid.
Q: Other than the prequel, are you working on any other writing projects?
A: Other than for class, no. I have a blog that’s basically a journal, but it’s mostly just fragments. I’m mostly trying to hone my technique rather than start a new project.
Q: Do you have a certain daily process you go through for your writing?
A: I try to make myself write something in some capacity every day. The blog helps me more as an exercise to get my thoughts articulated, and I have an ideas journal that I’ll write fragments of stories in, so I just try to get words on a page as often as I can so I don’t get paralyzed by fear of starting.
Q: Did you ever expect to publish a book at such a young age?
A: I think I would say yes. I always wanted to be a writer and publish a book as soon as I could. But it was a lot less glamorous than I thought it would be.
Q: How was it not very glamorous?
A: It’s a lot of hard work. I was revising a lot with my editor and sending copies back and forth. I spent hours just staring at my own work.
I think I realized that it’s not a magical thing. It doesn’t turn you into a best-selling author. People could still not know who you are, so it’s good to get that idea out of my head as quickly as possible, to realize that publishing isn’t the end-all of life as a writer.
Q: Do you still want to tweak the novel even though it’s already published?
A: I’ve had to stop looking at it because there are things that I really don’t like about it now, but it’s time to move on to the next project. It was a good first attempt.
It’s definitely not the best thing I could ever do, so I’ve had to stop thinking about what I would change.
Q: Now that you’ve published one novel, do you want to continue to publish more?
A: I do want to continue to publish novels. Most of all, I want to continue to write whether or not I am able to publish.
There’s the “To Kill A Mockingbird” syndrome where you just publish one thing and that’s the only thing you ever write.
I don’t want that to happen. I’m going to keep working on it.
Henning’s novel is available for purchase on amazon.com.