I always love hearing about how writers became writers. I love reading “call” stories, hearing about routines and learning what makes writers tick. How did they get there? What did they do? I thought I’d share mine, if anyone is interested.
I’ve been writing stories since I was in kindergarten. My mom saved the first story I typed when I six years old. Years later, I’d hide in my room reading Sweet Valley and Norma Klein books. I’d scribble my own stories in a big red binder.
During high school and college, I wrote every single night, because I had to write. The stories had to get out or they would drive me crazy. Still, I never considered it a true career path because it seemed so out of reach.
I’ve worked a lot of different jobs in my lifetime. I’ve been a graphic designer, a web designer, a retail sales person and an office administrator. I liked those jobs, but never felt satisfied. So, I would come home and sit at the computer and write. It was my stress relief and my joy. I bought a ton of “how to” books on writing romance. I belonged to RWA off and on during the years, both the national and local chapters, and I took editing and writing classes.
Still? I had a lot of trouble finishing a manuscript. I was afraid. That if I finished writing a book, I’d have to actually do something with it. What if it was hopeless drivel? What if I totally sucked at this? I was SO afraid to fail.
So, I procrastinated. I hemmed and hawed and did everything except finish the damn book. I’d start writing new books, saying *this* one would be better than the last. I wasted a lot of time doubting myself. It would have been a different story if I felt I wasn’t ready. I knew I was ready, I just refused to take action.
At the end of 2013, I lost one of the people I was closest to in my life. When she passed away, it was one of the most awful times I’ve ever experienced. But, it was also eye-opening. We don’t know how much time we have on this big blue marble. And, all the time I was wasting by procrastinating and putting off what really made me happy? Well, that had to change. I had to give it a shot. I wanted to prove to myself that I could finally finish a book and send it out into the world, failure be damned.
I had nothing to lose, really. I’d been freelancing after being laid-off from my administration job. Funds were tight. (Oh, how funds were tight!) It was now or never.
I gave myself a New Year’s Day deadline. Then I sat down and wrote furiously. Then I wrote some more. I made the ebook cover myself. I taught myself how to format the book and I wrote the blurb. I stayed up all hours of the night and barely slept for three months during the entire process.
Laundry piled up. My poor husband ate a million frozen pizzas. And the apartment? Well, I wouldn’t use a white glove to test for dust, that’s for sure.
The overwhelming doubt during this process was almost too much to bear. I read the story backwards, forwards and aloud. The night I uploaded the novella to Amazon, I sat down and had a huge cry from the overwhelming doubt and the months of stress.
When I finally did hit upload the book, it was five-thirty in the morning, and I was alone. All I could think about was that I’d done it. No, I didn’t do things the traditional way, but still, I had done it.
I finished the book, and entered the world of self-publishing.
Honestly, the support and interest in the novella has been more than I could ever hope for, especially as a new author. It’s been the happiest time in my life, and I don’t regret it for a second. So much of it is a new experience. Your first sale, your first rating, your first great review and your first bad review. All of it has been exhilarating and overwhelming. I am in love with the entire process.
The romance writing community has been overwhelmingly supportive and so incredibly helpful. Both self-published and traditionally published authors have offered insight, advice and support.
I have a long way to go, and LOT more to learn. There’s stuff that I’d change, and things that I wouldn’t. Overall, the experience has been the best one of my life.
So, if you’re a writer, keep writing and finish the manuscript. If you hate it, write another one. Make sure you finish that one, too. You can’t know what it’s like to go through the process until you write an entire book. Don’t give up on your dream. Take classes, learn your craft and keep working. We are never done learning.
Finish that book.
I chose self-publishing because it was a personal goal to finish a project by a certain deadline. If you want to be traditionally published, pursue it. Don’t ever give up. Write.
One of the best things about writing romance is that I get to give my fictional people their happily-ever-after.
I didn’t think I’d give myself my own in the process. Dreams do come true.