The Things the Reader Won’t See

This weekend flew by too fast, as weekends do.
I spent an enormous amount of time doing writerly things: writing (of course), cover design (ask me about recolouring an image pixel-by-pixel), formatting, editing, exploring some publicity options and looking for freelance work.

Do I feel like I got enough done?

Never.

There’s such an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes work for indie writers. If I want someone to read my stuff, I have to polish it myself, upload it myself, advertise it myself, proof it, read and reread it myself.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely.

One day I hope to make this my living. One day I will. But not if I let the little things drag me down and overwhelm me. I have to want it more than the tiredness, the lack of time, the frustration.

If this looks like complaining, don’t worry. It’s not. I don’t have enough time or energy to complain. This is just me laying out the obstacles and vowing to crush them to dust.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Photo via Happy Housewives Club, which is a FANTASTIC site, btw.

I have always struggled with organization, and frankly, if don’t make a list, I will be sorting baby pictures or writing out greeting cards in three minutes flat. I’ve always been envious of people who run their homes with military efficiency. You know the people I am talking about; those folk who aren’t afraid of their closets and actually know what is in every drawer. Show-offs :P.

Yet, I have to say that just because something is our nature doesn’t mean that we are to be a victim to our innate shortcomings. In fact, Bob Mayer gave a really interesting exercise in his Warrior Writer Workshop. He said to look at your Myers-Briggs personality…then look at the opposite of your personality, and likely that is the area you need the most work. I am going to take it…

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Famous Authors Before They Were Famous

It’s no secret that someday I want to make my living at writing. Nothing on this earth would please me more than waking up at 3AM with a great idea and being able to write it without worrying about work in the morning.

Some days it seems closer than others. It’s hard to remember that everyone had to start somewhere.

I found a great list on the blog at Publishers Weekly that helps to put things in perspective. Did you know that Douglas Adams thought of Hitchhiker while working as a security guard?

Read on to find out where some of the greats started.

Dreams Take Time…And Cash.

I’m in the midst of developing a Grand Five-Year Plan. It has glorious secrets, some of which I can’t reveal yet, but it also involves regular stuff like moving into a better house and having more money in the bank.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how it will all come together. The number one, very-most-important thing I need to work on is saving more money. For a number of my plans to come to fruition, we’ll need a sizable cushion in the bank. And I can’t count on us making more money for a while, so it’s all about budgeting and spending less.

I use Quicken already when I remember to. It’s moderately helpful, considering I don’t use half the widgets. The pie charts are pretty, though.

We use debit for most purchases. Debit isn’t necessarily the best move, because it lets you access your whole bank account ALL THE TIME, but at least it’s trackable when I remember to read the statements.

We’ve been getting better about the little things, like buying less drive-through coffee, but I still feel an unholy consumer lust when I see things like this.

Obviously, I need to get my financial shit together. And, being a word-person who can’t math, I’ll be diving into books for help. (Have any recommendations? I’d love to hear them.)

In the meantime I found some great blogs and websites that are geared to us artsy folks.

Writing a Novel? Cool Story, Bro.

Since I mentioned starting to write a novel, I’ve had mixed response from people I know. Most have been supportive, as I knew they would.

A few, though, have been a little skeptical. No one’s said it, of course. But there’s a certain look in the eye, a certain…pause…before saying anything, that gives it away.

I can see why.

Writing a novel seems to be one of those things that people say they’d like to do someday. I’d say a majority of people feel, at one time or another, that they could write a book. Most people say it, but most never do it.

Which brings me to the skeptics in my life. Because I’ve announced my intentions of “one day” making a living at writing, I can see how that might be mistaken for the same wistfulness that plagues so many wannabe novelists. Most people who have “one day”s sit back and wait for it to happen. “One day” I’ll run in that marathon. “One day” I’ll ask that guy out. They don’t make any concrete move toward their goals.

I say “one day” because there are so many variables. I can’t make someone like my work. I can’t make them buy it. And if no one buys it, it will never pay the bills. That’s life. I say “one day” because there’s no way for me to set an exact timeline for when I’ll be able to make writing my only job.

All I can do is fulfill my side of the contract. I can only control my output. I have to write, every day, no matter what, if there’s any hope of making it. I have to get better with every story, because it’s my job not to disappoint the reader. I have to bust my ass to make this novel the best I can. And the novel after that. And the one after that. Then I have to get my stuff out there, get people to see it, and hope like hell they like it.

Whether or not my “one day” ever comes rests squarely on my shoulders, and if I don’t work for it it never will.

(This post was inspired by someone who demanded I recruit followers for their writing instead of doing any work themselves. It doesn’t work like that. Sorry, Bro.)

Little Fish Gets Schooled

It’s tough being a little fish.

I’ve always written. I remember my public school having their own “book binding” (Grade Eights with glue and sewing machines), and how thrilled I was to see my “books” after completion. I wrote little stories all the time. And I read like I breathed, every single day, no matter what. I used to read as my Mom drove me home from the library because I couldn’t wait the ten minutes before starting a new book.

It’s been a dream of mine, always, to one day join the secret tribe of Authors. To know their secrets and learn their magic. I wanted to be a famous writer the way other kids wanted to be rock stars. It felt like the same thing.

I grew up just knowing that someday it would happen. Of course it would. I’d have a study, and a pot of tea, and I’d dash off bestseller after bestseller. It seemed formulaic: read the books, learn the nuance, then…fame. Easy.

I somehow, in my child-fantasies, completely missed reality.

I neglected to understand that I had to put in the work. It’s not glamorous to think that a good portion of what you write will be garbage, and it’s hard as hell to accept that and still come back the next day. I refused to accept anything less than perfection. Instead I dabbled, kicking ass at English and penning little stories here and there, just enough for the occasional ego boost. I was sure that some day the gate would be opened and I’d somehow just stumble upon The Truth.

I have, now.

Authors are people who buckle down and actually write. They’re (WE’RE) “Writers” because that’s what we do. We write. There is no secret. You don’t need permission, or approval. Anyone can do it, to some varying degree. Pick up a pen, open a laptop, and spill your story. It’s not mystical, or arcane.

It’s work. It’s the potential for rejection. It’s the sobering reality that I may never make a living at this. It’s the fact that the thing won’t write itself, and it’s up to me to carve out the time to make it happen. It’s knowing that I’m surrounded by peers who have been in the publishing game already for years. It’s reading articles by and about people who make enough to get by, by their words alone, and feeling hopeful and distraught at the same time.

It’s coming to terms with the fact that it seems like everyone is writing these days, and I’m a tiny fish in their immense pond. There’s no real path to take, no markers that show me what to do next. But I’ll keep swimming against the current, working harder, so someday, someday I might reach my goal.