Wednesday, March 28, 2012

State of the Writing

In lieu of a ROW80 check-in this week (sign ups are open for the next round, but it hasn't started yet), I'm going to do a quick "State of the Writing" address. That is, I just wanted to go on record with where I stand in my writing career. Maybe it'll end up being more for me than anything else, but so be it.

I (still) have two projects in the proverbial oven right now. One, the full length novel Fates' Motif. The other, the novelette The Only Sparkle. One set of FM edits are back in my eager hands. The other set is being hand delivered soon. TOS is out with an editor.

The cover for FM is nearly complete. It looks great. We're getting better at covers.

Everything seems abysmally slow to me. It has taken me a lot longer than I wanted to get these projects to the point they are today. The problem is, there has simply been an unfortunate confluence of negative life events conspiring against me. It cannot be helped.

Part of my prior ranting on success is likely due to my current struggles with life. I've talked about my wife's health struggles before, and I don't really want to get too deep into it here (I have the personal blog for that). Suffice it to say Depression, Anxiety, and Migraines are not a fun combination. And the medicines they run you through can knock you pretty much out of service for a week at a time. Taking care of a sick spouse can be a lonely job. I'm not complaining; it's totally the job I signed up for when I said "I do" (they're very clear on the "sickness and health" clause), but those who have gone through it know that it's a special kind of hell.

Last night, my mother reminded me of something she'd been told when going through a similar struggle with my father: "When you're going through hell, the best thing to do is keep going." Trust me, you don't want to stop and smell the roses. They smell like sulfur. I think.

Anyway, the point is that writing has taken a bit of a back seat... but it hasn't stopped! I'm still knocking things off my list, editing a bit each night, and getting these projects closer to release. I'm just not able to spend near the amount of time or energy I would have liked. For those who are waiting: thank you for being patient!

My plan has been, and remains, to simply keep writing for about five years (or until I have a solid stable of content). Until then, I'm networking by doing what I love (blogging and writing), but I'm not really focusing on marketing. I'm counting on word of mouth alone to sell my early books. It hasn't made me rich, but neither has it failed me. I've been able to share my stories with more people that I would have had I not embarked on this journey. And a critical part of the creation process is sharing.

So, though I'd love to strike it lucky, sell a million books, and quit the Day Job... I'm not there yet. But things are going according to plan. It feels better when I say that out loud (or write it out loud, I guess). This is still a young blog and a young career, and I've already met some phenomenal along the way. Just have to keep on keeping on. Everyone's journey is different.


Wander said...

Life has a way of doing that, dropping bombs. I am thinking that I will do the row80


Matt said...

It would be great to have you along!

Lauralynn Elliott said...

I hope your wife is getting better.

A question...why are you only going to write for five years?

Matt said...

The health stuff is pretty up in down. I think the overall trend is up, but it's hardly a steady path.

As for the five year thing... well I had a bit of a chuckle. I totally see how you're reading it now. I blame poor writing. Let me see if I can clarify...

I've approached this writing adventure as a five year plan. That is, I don't expect to "make it big" right away, nor do I expect it "limp by" forever. Part of good goal setting is making things tangible and well-defined, right?

The five year thing is that I've basically promised myself to not get too wrapped up in the business-side of writing for the first five years. To not worry too much about sales and marketing. I'm definitely reading and learning about these things, but I don't want spend a lot of my meager time/energy budget on things that are not writing.

So, I'm not going to stop writing after five years. (I'll probably always write; it's simply who I am). But five years is the mark I've arbitrarily set to re-scrutinize my business plans.

In other words, I recognize that I may not be giving myself the best chance to succeed right now. After all, I could be promoting the heck out of my work, doing blog tours, setting up my own signings, whatever... there are a ton of options for the independent author out there. I'm making a conscious decision to basically ignore a lot of that for five years, and just focus on writing and learning. After those five years, I'll see where I stand.

I don't ever plan to stop writing (especially as long as anyone is reading), but it may not always make sense for me to devote money to the endeavor. Or, it may grow to the point where I make a major life change and pursue the dream. Who knows? Right now (and for at least five years), I think my focus should be on writing and learning. Period.

(That being said, I can't help but snag some of the low-hanging fruit, easy marketing opportunities if-you-will. Najda's holiday giveaway is a great example. It was pretty much win all around and wasn't like I had to do a whole lot of work.)

Does that make more sense? (Like I said, writing fail.)

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