You seem to be a freelancer at heart. I'm sorry I'm new to your blog, I feel as if I missed a lot. What led you do write a novel? Is freelancing and having clips a prerequisite to getting published?
Having clips and freelancing are definitely NOT prerequisites to getting your novel published. While I don't have stats or anything concrete to reference, I'm certain that there are a good deal of debut authors out there who have never been published in the magazine world at all. The only prerequisite to being published is that you write a good book. As we've chatted about before on the blog, I'm sure that my magazine experience did help me land the deal that I did, for sure. No doubt about it. It showed publishing houses that I was a pro and could handle deadlines, revisions and all of the craziness that might come my way. But was it the reason that my book sold? Nah. Because if that were the case, my first book would have sold too. And it didn't. :)
Funny that you mention that I'm a freelancer at heart because while this has definitely been true in the past, I'm now more interested in focusing on fiction. I'm paring back my freelance assignments to really hone my second book, and I'd like to reach a place where I continue to selectively choose my mag assignments but also produce on novel a year (or so).
What led me to write a novel? A few things: one, it provided a really cathartic outlet for my grief in losing one of my best friends to breast cancer, but two, and this speaks to the above point, I was ready for a break from the monotony of magazine writing. Don't get me wrong: I adore my editors and really dig a lot of the assignments that come my way, but if you speak to a lot of long-term mag writers, many of them will tell you the same thing - that after a while, you run out of subjects that really hold your interest because you feel like you've covered just about everything. The stories I still enjoy are those in which I'm learning something, and if it's just the same-old, same-old, it gets dull, as with any job. Fiction allowed me to explore new skills and new writing territory, and I found it - and continue to find it - really exhilarating.
So readers, why do you write fiction? And is being published prior to writing a novel imperative?