What have you been doing?
When I say “I’ve been writing for 6 years,” it doesn’t seem possible, and the truth is, I really haven’t been. It wasn’t until recently that I started taking my writing seriously enough to even call myself a ‘writer.’
So when people question what I’ve been doing for the past 6 years, the answer is “not always writing”.
I quit my day-job and decided to finally pursue that dream of writing a children’s book in my free time. I worked hard on that little book. I poured all of myself into it, nearly every day, every free second, was devoted to Drips.
I self-published “Drips,” mainly because I was too eager to get it out to the public, and not ready for the harsh reality of rejections. Drips, the e-book, did alright. I made back the money I put into it at least (copyright registration, ISBN bar codes, & marketing). With the free promotional periods, there were over 13,000 downloads of “Drips.”
Afterward, I went straight to work on writing two other children’s books, which were filed away unfinished because I had a lack of direction, and wasn’t quite “feeling it”.
I was in a new home, in a new city, and my writing had taken a hiatus, but after a while, I was ready to write my first novel.
I finished the novel “Say Something”, and like a rookie, I edited it myself and submitted it to one agent, without letting anyone else look at it first. Naturally, it was rejected, and for good reason. “Say Something” has been sitting in the proverbial corner of my computer, collecting digital dust, until I can do a complete rewrite on it.
Then I got distracted by volunteer work with the school and the astronomy club for a long time, and my writing was not a priority. The drive to create took a backseat to all the other stuff.
I realized I was slacking off. I started attending writing workshops with Hampton Roads Writers, reading articles, and doing a whole lot of self-education when it came to the writing market. I practiced by writing short stories, which were rejected, and rejected, and rejected…
2015 also brought the start of working on a “practice novel”.
I had many ideas for books, and had to choose one of them to start with. How about my virus idea? I knew viral-outbreak stories had been beaten to death, and the likelihood of getting it traditionally published was low because of that. So my “not-a-zombie” book began.
I still didn’t write as much as I should have been writing, though. Months would lapse when I never wrote at all–that darned volunteer work again, and distracting summer break with the kids!
2012-2016, I did not take writing seriously, and it shows!
So in 2016,
I buckled down. I forced myself to cut back my volunteer time and I wrote more. I finally finished “Fairview Infected.”
I had it edited (for free) by a reliable second party, and used multiple beta-readers to give me feedback before submitting to publishers. It was rejected anyway–multiple times–as expected. Most new authors are rejected.
While waiting for those rejections, I finished the first draft of a third novel during the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Challenge. “Deadly Dissolution,” a mystery, is waiting to be revised.
After learning more from those workshops I had been attending, I went back to “Fairview Infected” to clean it up a bit. It could use a bit of an overhaul, knowing what I know now, but I’m ready to let it go and move on.
I’m not going to shelve it, though. Traditional publishers may not want to touch it, but “zombie” indie-books are still being devoured by super-fans. I’ll be self-publishing that book soon.
I’ll then get to work on my edits for “Deadly Dissolution” and aim for traditional publishing with that one.
I’ve improved my writing, little by little, and finally, two of my short stories have been accepted for publication.
2016-17 has brought a better work ethic and drive to be a better writer, and it’s already paid off in a small way. I still have a lot of story ideas up in the old storage vault over my neck. With 5-6 hours of each weekday devoted to writing, hopefully there’ll be more published stories and novels in my future.