The Writing world is a wonderful place. I have written so many stories in the past twelve months and joined groups from all genres. I have more than 20 stories accepted for almost 20 anthologies from horror and romance to children's stories and science fiction. I have a shelf on my book case just for books with my work in them.
I found the different groups had very different ways of working but also very similar attitudes and behaviours. The horror writers are fanatical about horror and discuss their favourite horror writers, horror conventions, costumes, merchandise and movies. The romance writers talk about romance, hang out with romance people, go to romance conventions and talk about romance writers they admire, romance movies and romance art. The science fiction writers are always quoting science fiction writers and science fiction movies, they go to conventions and have collections of sci-fi merchandise, posters and books. The fantasy writers are off with the pixies and they attend cos play events(as do sci fi and horror people), conventions, reenactments and they discuss fantasy and fantasy writers, films(not so much) and art. Are you seeing a pattern here? Like all careers, the way to really make things happen is to immerse yourself in all things to do with that career. Surround yourself with the people who lift you up and add to your toolbox, teach you the jargon and the skills to be excellent in that career. I have been involved with people from all these groups this past year but the group I am really enjoying is the KidLit world of writers and illustrators. The picture book and board book writers, the rhymers, the non fiction writers for kids, the teens, tweens and young adult writers. They are amazing and wonderful. Writing and illustrating go hand in hand in the kidlit world. Good literature for children is an aural, visual and oral feast that leaves an impression, sometimes for a lifetime. Children's creatives are very generous with their time knowledge and skills. They have the longest waits for word on their manuscripts. While a fantasy or romance writer may wait up to 12 weeks, kid lit people may wait 8 months before they hear if they have been accepted or rejected. It is a highly competitive market and no instant returns.
The writing world is incredibly wonderful. Yet so few ideas ever make it to the book shelves. I used to wonder why. If 300,000 people world wide join NaNoWriMo every November, why are only one or two published from that? If every person I meet says "I want to write a book some day" and never do, I wondered why. Many writers are post their first career and many are retired. Why? I am discovering the hard way why so few stories ever make it to print.
Here is the step by step process of why.
1 idea formulates( this may take years - rent still needs to be paid)
2 idea is written( a rough draft between making school lunches and 'real' work)
3 Idea sits in a drawer somewhere -Until the family crisis, sport taxi, recital, grad ceremony of the third child is over- mortgage payments need to be met.
4 Idea dusted off while on a camping trip with family - needs to be read between camp fire, swimming and fishing and packing or unpacking the vehicle.
5 Right I am going to finish this darn thing stage (about 7 years after the first idea, usually done late at night with a glass of red wine while the last kid to leave home is asleep and spouse watches a movie- ps rent and/or mortgage still needs to be paid from wage/salary of 'real' job)
6 Manuscript complete - find and send to someone to read over (actual symptoms of terror occur at this point akin to handing your first born baby over to a stranger)
7 Friend says 'nice' things and the writer is bouyed by this but not sure of the qualification of the friend to give a good critique.
8. Writer joins writing group and finds strangers to critique work. Subjective responses send writer into crazy rewrites trying to please everyone. Writer hates rewrite and wants to throw it away but decides to dump it back in the drawer for three years.
9 Writer joins classes on and offline, at night, on weekends where they fit into the non writer job and family commitments, to learn about writing.
10. Finally after a decade the writer gets it out, dusts it off, edits again and researches and edits more and rewrites and edits more ( children have all left home for greener pastures, mortgage has three payments to go)
11. Manuscript sits in an envelope on the side board for six months while writer gets up the courage to send it to an agent or editor of their choice after extensive research in where to send it. Contains SSAE. Writer comes to realise envelopes and hard copy are outdated and has learned to email to the correct recipient.
13 Rejection after 12 weeks of waiting.
14 Writer goes into downward spiral of self depreciating comments
15 Writer regains enough courage to send elsewhere, 37 times.
16 Wait 37 times in a cyclic pattern of despair, courage building resend and wait...
17 rejected 36 times
18 Acceptance letter/email arrives. Writer jumps around the room, knocks over a chair, squeals, flaps hands, squeals more, spouse comes running or older child moved back home comes to find out, writer squeals incoherant ravings about being accepted.
19 the real work begins - writer may receive a small advance on sales at this stage. For a story that took over a decade it equates to less than one cent per day. Contract negotiations, editor suggestions, reworking, adding, subtracting, process of production, printing, proofs, covers, commitment...more waiting, promotion, social media networking and promotion, promotional activities, promotion and marketing, interviews, promotion and marketing,
20 18 months later the book is on a shelf in a book store, writer brings all their friends to look at it sitting there like a painting on display in the Louvre, too shy to tell the bookseller why they are there.
21 12 months later if the book sold significantly the author(now an author because of being published) may receive a royalty check.
WRITING IS NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED!
-so ten years in which the rent needs to be paid, food on the table, kids fed and educated means that most people cannot afford to write full time and gain an income that will feed them.
You can leave your day job to write full time, you just have to be determined enough.
I can't afford to.
I can't afford not to.
I have a mountain of stories in my head that I want to tell and I have run out of decades to put that off.
The wonder of it all is that I am doing it. I am not listening to all the nay sayers and the 'get a real job' sayers. I am writing every single day, surrounding myself with other people who write, learning about writing and rhyming and reading in every genre I write in. It hasn't paid the rent yet but it will, it hasn't paid a cent yet but it will.
In anything in life, the keys are to make a decision to do it, dedicate time and energy to making it happen and believe in it.
Writing is Wonderful.
I am entering an award competition of a children's picture book. I am quite nervous about it. I may enter two stories and forego groceries this week (I could do with losing a bit of weight).
It is the KBR Award. http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2014/02/the-kbr-unpublished-picture-book.html
I am sure there will be some amazing and wonderful writers entering. There are so many delightful picture book writers and illustrators, there is simply not enough time to read them all. The piece I just submitted was written after one of the RhyPiBoMo prompts. I have sent it to my critique group and rewritten it several times then read it to my sounding boards(actual people who listen willingly) and now I have sent it there is no turning back.
Three winners will score $150, a manuscript appraisal, a certificate and the chance to have their manuscript viewed by Sue Whiting, Publishing Manager at Walker Books Australia. There is no guarantee of publication and normal Walker Books manuscript submission rules and timings apply.
We will also nominate several Highly Commended manuscripts (no prize).
All entrants will receive a feedback sheet.
There are simply too many amazing opportunities available to writers around the world for me to even begin to write about them. I am doing challenges every month and lessons online and sending stories to anthologies and ezines and entering competitions. If you are a would-be writer, reach out to the www and grab every opportunity you can find.
Okay I am off to write more of my novel and see what my protagonist is up to today. Blogging my book takes a backseat to Wonder but I may return and write some bits here in the blank space below.