Exploring worlds of my own creation

Category: On Writing

Goal Setting

I was recently reached out to by someone about being accountibility partners. While I have always loved the concept, and I know I NEED to be held accountible, it is…daunting. Scary. The very first thing is figuring out what goals I have that I want to be held to.

Having goals means making things real.

Making things real means having to do the hard work.

I also got very lost in the woods of what goals should look like. I’ve always believed they need to be measurable, and I got very stuck in the idea of that means word count for a writer – but that’s hardly true at all. There are so many tasks that are not word count related in writing.

Editing.

Revising.

Rewriting.

*gulp* …. Cutting.

Watching your word count go backwards is hard, isn’t it? You spend such a long time watching it climb and climb and climb, and then suddenly it’s dropping and it feels like a real loss. There is a reason that some writers call it murdering, because each one of those scenes that just don’t fit need to be cut out viciously and without remorse.

Easier said than done.

The other difficulty of setting goals is that I need to acknowledge and accept that I am a writer. This is what I do. This is what I need to continue to do if I am ever to see success. That is scary in itself, because it’s acknowledging that I am responsible for where I am today. Not circumstance, not situation, not luck: me.

The funny thing about setting goals, though, is that it’s motivating too. I set a goal, started to see myself meet it, and suddenly I wanted to set another. And another. And now I have this long list of goals and it’s become a different kind of problem.

Not enough hours in the day.

But I am taking myself seriously and moving myself forward. I am giving myself the agency I work so hard to give my characters. And you know what?

It feels good.

Almost

My first novel is almost ready. It is written, edited, read, and edited more. I have written and rewritten, cut and added, and sweat over the whole thing. It is almost ready.

Almost is such a huge word.

I have been debating whether to publish via traditional publishers or to go the self-publishing route, and I still am honestly flummoxed by the whole thing. I know my own preconcetions about publishing factor in greatly. As little as six months ago, I would not read self-published books because of a few bad apples I had read few years ago.

Since then, I have learned how many good self-published books are out there. I have learned that traditional publishing still requires a great deal of working marketing and promoting all yourself…they don’t just do it for you. I thought I could just write and they would do the rest. Sure, maybe if I were Steven King.

I’m not.

Clearly.

So, what direction to go? A part of me leans traditional for the validation is provides. Get accepted by an agent and you know you are “good enough.” A part of me leans self-publishing because it won’t take a year or two, best case scenario. Both are huge amounts of work. Both appeal.

So…what to do?

Thus far, my answer has been to bury my head into writing the first draft of my next book and ignoring it entirely. I build my social media platforms, write, and dream.

I need to make a decision, though, if I a ever going to move forward. I wish it was an easy decision – but nothing importent in life is.

Author Education

A big step toward becoming an author is education. I am not a person who is ever going to say a college degree or formal education is necessary to he an author, but that doesn’t mean there are not things to learn.

How to publish.

How to market.

How to handle the stress and the ins and outs of the industry. I know how to write. I do not know marketing. I like to say I know just enough to be dangerous: I have a vague idea of what works and what doesn’t, but I have no idea how to do is successfully.

A local book convention offers a writers education day, and I looked at it for weeks. A part of me really wanted to do it. Another part of me felt like I was too early, too new. Bless my husband, he told me to do it, so I jumped in.

It’s time to learn. If this is the path I want to walk, at the very least I will learn where I can eventually get. I am ready to take my writing seriously.

This is the next step.

Wish me luck…

Readers in Real Life

“If you want to publish, then at some point we’re going to read it.”

Yep. Oh goodness, yep. I was at lunch with friends, and we were talking about my writing. More specifically, we were talking about why they had never read my writing.

It has been years since I have shared my writing with anyone beyond the anonymous Internet. I’ve shared some fanfiction on sites, to good feedback, but have not had an actual, physical person in my life read my writing in over a decade. Somewhere along the way, I got scared. Shy. Insecure.

But if I’m going to actually make my writing a book, paper and glue and physically hold it in my hands, someone is going to find it and read it. Someone I know. Someone who might love it, someone who might hate it. Sharing this world in my head with anonymous people is one thing, but sharing it with those I see in my day to day life feels…strange and unfamiliar.

Imagine holding conversations over lunch about my characters, my world, my story. It’s ludicrous. It’s incredible.

I looked myself in the mirror and realized that I want that. It is scary, putting this piece of my soul out there, but also exhilarating. I want to one day hand a book to someone and say, “I wrote this!”

This fall, I plan to start querying my first book out. It can be a long and tiring process, but it is step one, and a step I am getting more and more anxious to take. With a little luck and a lot of work, that moment where I hand my book to someone could happen next year.

I want it. Bad.

Beta

I know that the path I follow is one that hundreds – thousands – have walked before. It’s still a bit of a thrill, though, as I start out for myself. I have written forever, but revision is a whole new monster to me. It was daunting. Honestly, it was overwhelming and terrifying to me. I wrote and was happy to leave the works as they were.

Naive, wasn’t I?

Beta reading was, perhaps, the more terrifying part of revision to me. It probably is for most writers. The idea of taking this labor of love that you have spent weeks or months on (in my case, years) and putting it before other people can be daunting. A lot of people compare it to handing your baby over, but let’s be honest, I do that all the time. My babies go to school, they go to friends’ houses, they go to camps. They go with my blessing.

I haven’t let anyone read my writing in years.

Beta readers are so important to the process though. When you revise, you’re reading your work over and over again. Then, you’re reading it again. You know exactly what you mean, what you intend, and you can become blind to how it came out on paper.

Readers, good readers, will help you see past that.

I sent my novel out with complete terror, sure that they would come back and tell me how awful it was. Redundant. Cliche. Getting beta readers was the very best thing that could have happened to my confidence, because when the feedback came, none of my worst nightmares came true.

They liked it.

More importantly, they wanted to help me make it even better.

I’ve polished the first chapter of my (latest) completed novel so far with the feedback I got from my beta readers. They helped me see some of the things that had felt off without me knowing why. They helped me make parts stronger. They gave me some feedback that I dismissed, and I did so without any doubts.

Working with beta readers has made me feel more like an author than I ever have before. I am so grateful I took the leap, and so grateful to every one of them for their help on this journey. I have a lot more novel to polish, but I’m excited for it now – excited to hear back from my beta readers, and excited to tackle the challenge.

If you’re considering having other readers look at your work – do it. It’s terrifying, and exhilerating, and will only make you and your writing stronger.

Stories

The world is made up of stories. We live our stories every day. Sometimes our stories are methodical and slow. Sometimes they are frantic and full of chaos. Usually, they exist somewhere in between.

We consume stories in every form. Books, TV shows, and movies; gossip, people watching, and networking. Each person’s social media profile is a story, carefully crafted to show and tell the world only the parts a person wants to show. They clean before they snap for Instagram. They gloss over the argument they had with their spouse when talking about the amazing date night they had. We are made of stories.

If you think about it, we are all authors. Some of us just like to write stories that aren’t our own – and that is where some incredible magic, and a whole lot of hard work, happens.

I have so many stories I want to share with the world. I cannot wait to take the next steps to get there. One day, I will hold a novel in my hand with my name on it. I just need to find the path to get there.

I am excited to share that journey with you.

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