Sunday, April 22, 2012

Year One Retrospective

I completed my first short story around this same date one year ago. That was the first piece of fiction I'd ever written. I'd always wanted to write, and had endured year of urging by friends and family. (Okay, by family.) But I'd never found the time or been able to come up with anything interesting to write about.

The latter was my biggest stumbling block. I have a good command of language, but had no clue how to envision and flesh out a character, and even less how to plot out a story. I'd like to think I've improved somewhat in that regard :)

Since then, I've written more than 200,000 words, completed more than thirty short stories, have another ten or so partials that may or may not get finished, and finished the first draft of a 70k novel. I've self-published three short stories, almost sold several, and accumulated close to one hundred rejections from professional markets. I have a second novel in progress, also.

I generally spend an hour or two a day writing and several more thinking about writing. I've read maybe 20 books about writing, listened to thousands of hours of writing related podcasts, attended one convention, and done a ton of critiquing and being critiqued via the SlugTribe group in Austin and the Critters online group.

I work nearly full-time, help raise a toddler, and have a wife and several pets. I blog around once a week and occasionally tweet. My social life otherwise is pretty nonexistent.

I feel like I've accomplished a great deal in my first year, more (I believe) than most new writers. I'm proud of that.

I'm also starting to run headfirst into the wall. The one made up of inertia and apathy, the one that stops me cold with yet more rejections, with no sales, with yet another story that nobody seems to like. The one that makes me question why on earth I'm working so hard at something that looks increasingly hopeless in terms of actually ever paying any dividends.

I want to write full-time. I don't want to have to hold down another job just to be able to afford to write in my spare time. It's getting harder and harder to motivate myself to write at all. Turning out a story a month is getting tricky, much less the two or three a week that I  was managing. Not because writing is hard. Writing is as easy as ever.

Because not getting any appreciation is hard. Because not getting paid is hard. Because not knowing if I will ever get either of these things is hardest of all.

I could have gotten twice as much done this last year--if I saw a clear reward. I intended to do just that this year, but I've gotten sidetracked instead. I've slowed down, nearly chugged to a stop.

So, what now?

I've got too many stories to tell to quit. They won't leave me alone anymore. Even if I ask nicely. Even though nobody's listening.

In my first year writing fiction, I've written what amounts to several books. Writing part-time, with only the instruction I can beg, borrow or steal, I've managed to come very close to selling to professional markets. I'm getting so close I can almost taste it. I feel like I'm walking the Pattern, in Amber, with sparks above my head and everything there ever was pushing back against me.

Every autobiographical word I've read, from every writer I've ever listened to, indicates that it will get worse before it gets better. I can only hope and pray that I will measure up to the task. There is no going back.

Those few of you who read this, thanks so much for taking the time to be interested in my ramblings, and best of luck with your own writing.


Heather Nelson said...

I made a concerted effort recently to give up all expectations of becoming a "known" writer, selling my stories and novels to the masses. It was liberating.

Since I made that leap, I published my first flash fiction, I received praise from A. Lee Martinez for another one, and I was offered a blog author position with WriteByNight here in Austin. I now want to work on my novel again, after a hiatus since last November.

The moral is, for me, to delight in my writing whether or not anyone else does. It seems that, when I do so, good things happen.

I hope things look up for you soon.

Silver Bowen said...

Hi Heather!

Thanks for the encouragement. Awesome accomplishments :) I am so glad that your writing is going well, and I hope you keep at it.

Heather Nelson said...

You're very welcome, and thanks! Jay/Jason Wiscarson (my fiance) speaks highly of your works. I believe he used the word "amazing." :)