June 24, 2011

Friday Fun - Follow Your Dreams!

There are people out there who understand science and math and happen to be really good at it. There are people who can fix things like nobody's business. There are others who have the mind for strategy and economics and politics. Then there are the creative types: actors, artists, writers, singers, dancers, and such.

I fall into the creative category. I was born to be creative. As a young teen, I wanted to be the next pop star. I wanted to sing. I sang in church (gasp, yes I know!) and school, entered some contests and talent shows, but never took it seriously enough to do anything about it. When I fell in love with Karaoke in my mid-twenties, I felt it was a little too late for me to try and make a career out of it, especially when I considered the "look" of the pop stars at the time, tiny blond little things that fall through the cracks in your floor...

Anyway, I also knew I could never be an actor...I'm bad at memorizing lines, and well dancing was always a hobby, nothing I even considered as a career. And I can't draw for shit! But then I rediscovered my love of writing!

I wrote poetry and short stories as a kid, helped revitalize the Literary Club in High School, yet never thought of writing "professionally" until I finished my first Fan-Fiction. The story I wrote actually flowed well, made sense, and had coherent characters and plots. Of course it was easier writing about characters I knew, but it fueled my desire to continue. I caught the bug. I was hooked. Whatever...I wanted to write.

Since then, I've never looked back.

My first "book" sucked. The story was decent, but everything a writer shouldn't do, I did...down to describing  in excruciating detail each piece of clothing the villain wore. Well, I learned plenty from that experience, it was rough, but I didn't let it discourage me.

I wrote another novel. Didn't bother sending it anywhere, though I have it saved. :-) Then I wrote something else...specifically for Harlequin. I should have known better. I tried to fit the Romance formula and feel of Harlequin novels but realized my style isn't suited for them. At all.

When I started working on Tiva's novel, I felt like I had something special. So, while writing it, I went back to square one. Read blogs and websites dedicated to fiction writing. I went through hundreds of tips and tricks. I bought books. I joined writers groups. I kept learning and writing. I didn't give up! I wanted to make this work.

After I finished Tiva, I wrote a kick ass query letter, and started submitting. Soon after, I finished Lucky and did the same thing. During the time between my first book and when I submitted these next two projects, E-Books began picking up steam and support, giving mid-list writers a way to find readers without having to go through one of the BIG publishers out there. I was still a bit green. I was determined to get a NYC publisher, I spent three years emailing over 120 agents (while writing sequels), and when I was finally aggravated enough, started querying publishers. Some larger ones have slush piles (!), little good that did me, so I focused on smaller publishers and did that for another year. Much to my surprise, the number of writers seemed to double, saturating the market, probably due to the massive explosion of E-Book Publishers, and once again making it more difficult than when I started almost 10 years ago. Just my luck...Would I ever catch a break?

Yes, apparently I would.


I kept plugging away for another year or so. Writing. Submitting. Learning. Growing. Dreaming.

It worked.

I have a novella out now, its sequel due in July, and finally found a home for Lucky. While Tiva is still in limbo, sadly, I had a request the other day for a new Sci-Fi project, so things are still looking up!

I'm not with a major publisher but I'm building a nice platform in hopes of getting there one day. It may take me several more years to do it and I'm really okay with that. I never started writing to become rich and famous, though I'd take that too! Writing is second nature to me now. If I go too long without it, I don't feel like myself. Yes, I'd love to make a living writing. If I keep going, I know it can happen if I just keep dreaming and working hard to make it reality.

What's your dream? Are you trying to make it a reality?


Cherie Reich said...

Great post! I tried the singer/actor thing from high school into college, but I realized I didn't have the dedication to practice to get beyond what little natural talent I had. I always had a great imagination, so writing had to come eventually, I suppose.

Right now, I'd love to have a novel finished to submit to agents/publishers. Although my dream would be to see it in a bookstore or library. I could point to it and say "that's my book." Right now, though, I'm just doing that for my friends' books who have made it into bookstores.

Jenn Nixon said...

Imagination is the key. I probably should have mentioned that too!

Keep writing! You're already half way there!

Christine Rains said...

I love this post! I'm trying to find an agent and publisher for my books. It's a tough road to travel. I've always wanted to be a writer since I was a child. I will continue to push myself no matter how hard it gets. I hope I can instill the same drive in my son, no matter what his dream may be.

Jenn Nixon said...

@Christine, that's the key, keep going. There are plenty of smaller presses out there who are legitimate and offer newer writers the change to hone their skills. Make sure you check out duotrope.com it's a great site!