The road of a writer is fraught with peril–writing blocks, plot bunnies, deadlines, caffeine addiction, insomnia, antisocialism, the list goes on. There are many stages–or shall we say mile markers–along this road, and you have the choice to turn back at every stop. This is true, but this also goes against what Jeff Goins claims in his new book The Art of Work which is now on sale at Amazon.
This is the second blog post in my 500 in 31 writing challenge. To kick it off, I decide to write through the journey of writing, to editing, to publishing and beyond. Each day I will walk through chronological steps, as comprehensive as I can, going back to my roots and the books that aided me. Imaginary sidekick, to the library!
Today, I am going to delve into my past and open the pages of my own adventure. Writing did not become cool until my older brother started writing science fiction stories for school projects. I always loved reading, but never considered writing. But I always go back to my brother’s quote,
I write because I’ve exhausted the books that interest me.
He’s a little high and might, but nevertheless! The point remains. I started writing because too often young adult books were not to my standards, or simply not within my preferred genre. So there I was, dabbling with genres trying to find The One. I wrote Star Wars fan fiction, I wrote sci fi, I wrote fantasy–ah ha! It was a silly fairy book, but it was the only book I was able to finish. I had discovered something, something big. I let our six acres of childhood fuel this fantasy element and began a hobby that would become the essence of who I am.
I never considered publishing my stories (I hadn’t considered myself a writer, back then. I was just “scribbling”). Oh, sure, I dreamed of being the next JKRowling, but I told myself I only wrote for fun, for my siblings. Well, one day, I allowed a client at the salon read one of my books. If ever there was a proverbial genie-in-a-bottle, it was she. In between appointments, she ate up that silly story and came back to give me the inspiration of a life time. This was the moment of awareness; it wouldn’t be until two years later that I published my first book. After the genie, came the Guardian. Because in every adventure story, there is a guardian who comes and goes during pivotal moments in the hero’s journey (e.g. Gandalf, Brom, Ben Kenobi, Albus Dumbledore, etc). My Guardian gave me the boost of confidence, the speech of positivety, and the vision I would carry with me forever.
“Who knows, you could be the next JKRowling, but you’ll never know unless you try.”
I spent that year researching. I tried querying traditional publishing houses. I tried querying agents. I read blogs, and websites, and emailed people I didn’t know and who intimidated this home schooled country bumpkin. But I never even received a rejection letter. I got absolutely nothing. Well, I may have a slight stubborn streak. After all this work, and telling my supportive fans that I wasn’t getting anywhere, I finally put my foot down. “I’ll do this on my own. Who says I need a publisher? Who says I need an agent? I’ll do it all myself!”
–Now, I’m not condoning this type of mindset. There is something rich and desirable about having a community of support and a team to come alongside you. “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8–
Needless to say, though, I Lone Rangered it. I turned my sights to self-publishing. At this time, it was 2013 and I had just finished NaNoWriMo for the first time. I was on fire. Here I had this inspired story and a drive to be published. So I went to work. I drafted and re-drafted that story, setting my previous book aside. If I was going to flop, I was going to flop with a smaller story that wasn’t as near and dear to my heart. But time flew! Winter turned into summer, summer came with stress and deadline drama. And when November came…and the first print arrived…I breathed in the wonderful aroma of my book. My first book. That, my friends, that moment, is why I write. I didn’t make any money on that first book, it was just an author copy. I didn’t receive fan mail from that book, it hadn’t yet hit the market. I was alone in my car sitting outside the FedEx store breathing in the fresh paper and ink of my book.
As we delve into this journey together, there are key questions you should ask yourself:
Why do you write?
What do you write?
For whom do you write?
Have you a vision, a goal for writing?
What is your plan?
I’m very excited to walk alongside you, friend. Your story, my story, it’s still growing. If you can take away one thing from this study that helps you, then that alone makes it worthwhile. See you tomorrow.