Monday morning, something tickled my left arm. Thinking it a stray hair or a bit of lint, I brushed it away and went on with my writing.
Then, on the far edge of my vision, something moved in an oddly lumbering skitter.
Turns out, the tickle was a ladybug.
A ladybug in January. Who’dathunk?
Trying to succeed as a writer, an artist, a dancer, a creative person of any type, can be like looking for ladybugs in January: a hopeless task. Few creatives get to leave their day jobs and focus on their arts. Some do, then decide they’d rather have a relaxing hobby than a form of employment more exhausting, more frustrating, and less lucrative than the old “day job”. Some sink into depression and despair, thinking all their efforts in vain.
I’ve been there. In the past couple decades, I’ve tried to give up writing several times. If all it was going to give me was struggle and failure, then it served no purpose. My family, former teachers, contest judges — they were all wrong. I was never going to amount to anything resembling a real writer.
Last night, I read comments from a writer frustrated by other writers promoting their books and websites. What use could it be, marketing one’s work to other writers?
Well, we writers are also readers — and if we’re not, we should be. Outside of actually putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, it’s one of the best ways to improve one’s craft.
Also, we writers have family and friends who read, and we bump into other readers as we go about our daily lives. If we know about books that are available, we can direct people to them, and thus help another author grow his audience. I’ve made many such recommendations, and have given away copies of books by total strangers, simply because I liked what I read and wanted to share.
(On rarer occasions, I’ve given away my personal copies of such books, but that is not my usual mode of operation. If I like a book, it stays.)
Something that discouraged me for a long while, and caused me to not even read fantasy novels despite my love of fantastical tales, was the notion that there are no new stories. Not really. In a weird sense, we are all plagiarists. That, and a beta reader called my work derivative. And my dad said that our family were creative, yes, but we tended to improve upon things that other people attempted first. We didn’t seem to be able to come up with anything truly original. After all, my uncle the artist only copied photographs by wielding pen and pencil, turning the images into photo-realistic collages, but he wasn’t inclined to create from scratch.
Derivative? Based on someone else’s work? Again I wondered what was the use.
But then I shook off the malaise and asked myself, How many science fiction novels are there? How many romances? How many mysteries? How many horror novels or ghost stories or kids books?
And no matter how many of them resemble one another, people keep reading. There’s always an audience.
So I carried on. I quit my “real” job and became a full-time editor and writer, picked up a novel I’d set aside as not worth finishing, a novel rejected for reasons that had nothing to do with my writing ability, and changed my perspective. Changed my criteria for success. Now, it’s not about being published by a big name publisher. It’s about moving forward. It’s about telling all the other stories still roaming my mind.
Twenty years is quite long enough.
“You know, they ask me if I were on a desert island and I knew nobody would ever see what I wrote, would I go on writing. My answer is most emphatically yes. I would go on writing for company. Because I’m creating an imaginary—it’s always imaginary—world in which I would like to live.”―William S. Burroughs
___________ ~*~ ___________ ~*~ ___________ ~*~ ___________
This is where the shameless portion of the post begins.
Yesterday, January 26, 2015, that book went live.
As of now, Dragon’s Rook is available in e-book only, but the paperback is coming soon.
NOTE: If you’d prefer a .pdf version, please contact me. (The cost for all e-versions is $3.99.)
If you encounter errors or formatting issues that affect the reading experience, please let me know. I want readers to be happy.
And best wishes to the literary endeavors of my fellow fantasy writers.