I’m an odd duck (ask any duck you run across); I THINK I can do anything, and yet have a confidence crisis every few…minutes or so. THINKING isn’t necessarily BELIEVING.
It’s a delicate balancing act – remembering how much I don’t know, and yet being aware of how much I DO.
This re-struck me when I decided to follow another blogger who was kind enough to follow me. I don’t do this automatically, and I don’t follow others expecting them to reciprocate – I have little enough time for EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES, so when I follow someone, it’s because I feel I can learn something from them. What struck me was that, from what I’m reading so far, this author is fairly new to writing – at least to submitting his writing to traditional publishers. And yet, he is sharing his thoughts and experience.
I often catch myself NOT sharing my experiences because I don’t consider myself to have enough of them that it would be worth anyone else’s time. The fact is, though, I’ve been thinking of writing for twelve years (looking into it, reading, participating in a writing group), writing for about ten (instead of just thinking), productively writing for five years (productively means setting reasonable, measurable goals and working to achieve them – consistently creating output and sending it to market)
Arriving at this level puts me far beyond where most other people recover their sanity and get back to REAL life, instead of “wasting their time” writing, and so I must have SOMETHING worth sharing, mustn’t I? So today, I’ll cover what got me where I am.
It all comes down to Heinlein’s rules, which are – for the uninitiated and the lapsed (it’s very easy to forget what you have to do – we ALL need reminders and reinforcement):
1. You must write.
How can you be a writer if you never start? It’s amazing how many would be writers never get this, although you also can see how much difficulty even successful writers have with this by reading their blogs.
2. You must finish what you write.
If you don’t finish it, what good is it?
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
There are a couple of traps that are easy to fall into. One involves the solitary writer thinking they need to rewrite their story JUST ONE MORE TIME TO GET IT PERFECT (folks, there IS NO PERFECT.) The other is trying to please all critics by rewriting based on feedback from each reader (I’ve done that one; everyone’s taste is different, and it’s your story – not theirs. Don’t give it up.) In Heinlein’s parlance, editorial order could only come from a PUBLISHER who was actually going to BUY his work.
4. You must put the work on the market.
If your objective is to make money doing this (crazy, I know) then you have to put it out there and try to get someone to buy it. If you don’t care about making money, you still have to LET PEOPLE READ YOUR WORK. This scares most people to death, but you’ve got to do it if you want to feel like you’re a writer (if a tree falls in the forest, is there any sound if no one hears it?)
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
In Heinlein’s time, there was no real indie publishing – no eBooks or internet, so keeping work on the market meant submitting it to traditional publishers over and over until it sold. I’ve been indie publishing my stories for a little over four years, which is a new way of keeping it on the market (if you keep it out there LONG ENOUGH, total sales to individual readers will reach what a publisher would have paid you one time for the story; don’t ask me how long that is, or if you’ll still be alive by that time. It could happen!)
Knowing the rules isn’t enough – you have to commit to them. For me, the best way is to set goals each year – rules for my writing “career” (one of these days the quote marks will go away from that, just like they did from saying I’m a “writer.”)
My most important goals are measurable.
- I decide how many stories I’m going to write each year.
- I must begin submitting my work to publishers within a week of completion.
- When a piece is rejected, I must send it out to the next market before a week passes.
- I must ePublish something every 4 weeks (this thins out the herd of stories I have galloping around to the different publishers.)
I don’t always succeed at making my goals, but I do more often than not, and I’ve achieved FAR, FAR MORE since I started setting goals than I did without them. Set your own goals and see where they take you (and for extra incentive, make sure you tell others what they are, and report on your progress; you’ll be amazed at how much the FEAR OF FAILURE (and PUBLIC HUMILIATION) can counteract the FEAR OF REJECTION.)
This is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I know about what it takes to be a WRITER. If you’re NOT DOING it, then you’re NOT one.
This week’s Smashwords coupon is for “Bugging Out”:
Change is hard to deal with under the best of circumstances, but what do you do when everything you know seems to be disappearing around you? A lonely, cantankerous shopkeeper struggles to keep what’s left of his world.
This is another instance of things appearing out of one of my stories after the fact. I struggled to find a picture of an appropriate beetle for the cover, and then, what I recall as a month after publication, there were swarms of these:
I’ve lived in Texas for over 40 years, in my house for over 20 years, and I’ve never seen their like before or since. Fortunately, they don’t seem to have the predilection for making things disappear as the ones in my story do.
Use coupon code LB32E to get 67% off the cover price at Smashwords (that’s only 99-cents – such a deal!) – it’s good until May 7th. Here’s the link:
“Bugging Out” is also available in my fourth collection: Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND.
The preorder campaign for “Solid People” is wrapping up in JUST TWO MORE DAYS!
The afterlife is what you make of it. A run-in with Mr. Topp’s flatbed strands Sarah and her mother in Newbury. Despite her mother’s warnings about becoming attached to things, Sarah decides to spend her time with some Solid People.
Release date is May 6th, but you can preorder now at a REDUCED PROMOTIONAL PRICE at all the usual places, including (but not limited to):
William Mangieri’s writing, including his latest ePub “Burial Details”, can be found in many places, including:
• His Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books): https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress: https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri