Friday, July 15, 2005
I love writing
I love writing. I really do.
Some of you have known me for many years, so you're pretty much aware of how much of my life I dedicate to writing. In the last few years that hasn't been just for my own work, either. So far I've had five wonderful years with Vision, and while DTF is quite a handful, I really enjoy it.
And there is Forward Motion, of course. Overall it is filled with very good people who are interested in talking to others about writing and learning what they can from each other. Writers are really lucky in one respect: they know how to communicate via written words. Not everyone can.
The Two Year Novel Course has been a real challenge for me. I'm currently reading yet another book on editing to glean more material I can offer. This is very difficult because there are at least four fiction books on my shelf that I want to read RIGHT NOW. Only 22 more class posts to make and we'll be done. Then I get to rework the entire 104 classes into something presentable and see if someone would actually like to pay me for this. (Laughs)
I like talking to new writers, finding things that can occasionally help them, and seeing them finish their first stories and make their first sales. That's a really wonderful experience. It makes all the work at FM worth it.
There is, however, nothing better in my world than writing. I don't care if it's a short story or a novel, articles or even an occasional bit of poetry. I started out thinking I was a natural novelist and that's what I would stay. I wrote at least forty novels before I managed anything shorter -- but one day the art of short stories came to me, and now I write both without much worry. (That's not to say that the stories all work, of course!)
I've written long novel series of eight books and I've written flash fiction -- which, by the way, is often considered a vignette -- a moment in time, not a full story. Some of them are complete stories, but many are just brief looks into an event. They're mood pieces. And they are fun to write if you can. I have not had a lot of luck getting them right, though I did get a couple published at Ideomancer a few years ago. I've added a flash fiction section to the two month dares since a number of people wanted to try their hands at them. I think they're fun!
I write words every day, despite all my other side interests, including photography and the interesting work with 3D rendering programs. I love setting up scenes in Daz and Bryce. It's a whole new way of looking at the material I've written. Character's faces are coming clearer now. I didn't expect that of 'people' I've lived with for years.
My sales have not been spectacular, but they've been pretty steady. Since June of 1999 I've had about 75 sales and 81 publications (with a few of those still upcoming). The difference in the numbers is because I have given some stories to a few of my favorite online ezines that didn't pay. Dark Moon Rising was one such. Shadowkeep was another.
My rejections, of course, are well more than triple the number of sales I've made. I have, however, averaged about a sale a month since my first publication. I've accepted the rejections for what they are -- an indication that I'm a writer trying to make sale, and that if you don't try, you aren't going to get anywhere. Rejection is a part of the job description for writers. It's nothing personal, and quite often it isn't even a condemnation of the work. Stories sometimes just don't fit, or the magazine is overstocked in a particular kind of story, or that this particular editor just doesn't like that kind of work. Sometimes, of course, it also means the story sucks and the writer is too blind to realize it. I've had a few of those, too, of course. We all do.
My climb has not been spectacular, but it has been steady. And I've learned a great deal from the copyeditors I've worked with over the years. I've seen changes in my writing because of it.
The way I have worked has been good for me. It is, however, the long way around to a career. Many people consider electronic publication in much the same way as pulp fiction was viewed back in what we now call the golden age of sf and fantasy. (grin)
I like being part of a new frontier. I find it rewarding in ways that do not include money. But that's just me. Like everything else, I don't expect it to work for others. In fact, I tell new writers that they should always try for the top first. If you want a career you have to go for the money and fame.
I make my own submissions to various places all along the spectrum of publishing. I submit to places that interest me. Sometimes I think I have something that I'll try at the places up top, and sometimes not. People have even occasionally come to me asking for material. I wish that would happen more often. (Laughs.)
I make two submissions a month and I have for years. Sometimes I make far more. I find that if I have a real schedule of that sort that I hate to break a record. This one goes back nearly ten years now.
In all of this there are some things I've learned, and the most important is that people have to find their own paths to whatever they consider success in writing. Some people who have tried to write every single day have burnt out on it and others have thrived. Some people work well with outlines and others don't. The only way to find out what works for you is to try.
And keep trying until you find what you are comfortable with -- what allows you to work without losing that creative spark by making it too much of a factory work feeling.
Most of you are going to do far better than I ever have. But I think I can guarantee that none of you will ever love writing more than I have had. (grin)