Time Flies

It’s been a long 2017. It feels longer than usual for a year. Though maybe that’s just because of all the things that have happened.

Thanksgiving is in two days. I haven’t said what I am thankful for yet.

I’m going to say this, I am thankful for 2017. It’s been the best and worst year of my life.

Time is flying now.

Back in August I self-published my first book. What a wild ride that was. I had to learn so much. I will forever be thankful for the lessons that experience taught me.

I thought I made my dream come true. I thought getting published was simply enough. Now I know, it wasn’t going to be enough until I did everything the right way.

But I made a decision. I figured if I want to be a writer I needed to get it together. The night I made my choice, I took my book off all markets. Got online and found the publisher that had remarked how interesting my book looked when I met her at a Convention.

I submitted my manuscript directly to her and after consideration, she accepted it. It’s been a wild ride going through cover design and having the help of an editor who showed me the things I should have shown myself years ago.

Last night my book came out on all eBook markets. Next week my paperback comes out. It’s been a long haul to the finish line, but it’s right in my grasp.

My head is straight, and my focus is right where it should be.

Time flies, but has brought me to the place where my dreams reside.

Where I’m at now I am living the dream that I have had since age five. I’m not without regret, but I’m a hell of a lot more thankful.

Failure 

My first book signing was a few days ago. I have to say, the experience was incredibly rewarding. As it was supposed to be.

I met a lot of kind people, and took the signing as a learning experience.

When I started out wanting to publish, I was confused. I didn’t understand how it could be possible to find success in this field because of the high rate of failure.

I tell myself now: Don’t let failure be an option. It really is that easy.

Most people don’t reach their dreams because they are too afraid to fail. They give up without ever trying.

If you want something in this life, you have to go for it with all you’ve got. Why lose all that, when there still is a what if in the back of your mind?

I spent years and years thinking I could never make it as a writer, but now I look where I’m at. I took a chance, I kept my head straight, and pushed to the finish.

Never is a term with hope behind it. Even though I thought I would never make it as a writer, I kept hoping I could be one.

Everything can be made an accomplishment, if you refuse to let failure be an option. Don’t give yourself room to fail and you won’t. But remember, just because you fail doesn’t mean you can’t pick yourself back up and start fresh tomorrow.

In better terms if you know what you want and believe you can accomplish it, do it.

 

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Accepting Criticism

The fear someone can experience from hearing someone critique their work is out of this world.

But if you want to make it in the world of Indie authors, grow the hide of an alligator and prevent yourself from shedding it like a snake.

Hearing someone give a bad review on something you have written can be heartbreaking. It comes with the industry. You have to take it and run with it. Don’t let it get to you.

I think of writing and life in this sort of spherical sense.

When someone tells you they dislike your work, it can come off as if someone called you ugly, or fat, or any number of derogatory names that might hurt your self-esteem. It’s the same sort of issue. It can be hard to tell whether it was deliberate, or if it was a good dose of constructive criticism that you took the wrong way.

A line is drawn, but it’s not always easy to tell where that line is.

When I started writing longer pieces in high school. I thought my work was wonderful. In the same sense I was terrified of someone telling me my writing was awful. I got this superiority complex, nobody would tell me wrong. Needless to say, I climbed off my high pedestal and excepted my writing for what it was. Garbage, with bad plot, terrible spelling, and even worse grammar. There I began my real writing journey. I opened myself up for opportunities. I looked at someone’s comments on my writing not as a bad thing, but as a suggestion field.

Hey this is what you need to improve on. Maybe try this. The plot is great, but you have too much going on. 

Things were going great then I hit my junior year in high school. I went backwards and dug myself in a writing hole that started to consume me.

By the beginning of my senior year I was so tired of looking at the same work over and over again that I stopped turning my computer on. I was trying to give up on my lifelong dream.

Gradually everything got worse, I was barely hanging on in school and I grasped for some traction. Christmas break rolled around and I got tired of feeling unlike myself. I started doing research. A lot of it. By January I discovered Kindle Direct Publishing. In February I declared to a few family and friends that by the end of the year I was going to fulfill my dream and go on to be the person that I have always wanted to be. On my own terms.

Initially some of my family was skeptical. They suggested maybe I take the traditional route.

Frankly I am not a patient person. I did the rounds of sending out query letters. I waited long enough. The decision to self publish was my way of accepting the criticism of not being published by a big name publisher. That was a huge obstacle for me. I conquered it. I began my trek up the mountain, one rocky edge at a time.

It hasn’t been a year since I made my decision. I’ve graduated and moved on to college. I did it, I made it to the top of the mountain.

What I really did, was I accepted the criticism I was receiving as a goal. Okay what have I learned about her opinion on this chapter? What points is she projecting I change or improve? What is the relevance of what she is saying? I see where she is coming from. That’s a good idea. I never thought of that!

The fact is no matter what you do, how great your writing is, or how famous you are. Someone out there in a world of billions is going to dislike it, probably absolutely hate it. While another is going to fall in love with your work and romance it to its core.

Great.

It’s your job to have enough respect for yourself and for those people to not give up.

I may never be a good writer, but I will never be the worst writer. It’s that simple logic. It keeps me going, it says Okay so and so doesn’t like it, but I do and someone out there does.

If Stephen King or JK Rowling took to heart every bad thing a reader or critic has said about them or their novels. They would not get out of bed in the morning.

Writing is an art. It’s a means to an end for many. It can be opinionated or biased, derived from the person who wrote it.

The importance of criticism is that it is merely a suggestion. It doesn’t mean anything, unless you make it mean something.

It’s the writers choice.

Writing for Exposure vs Writing for Enjoyment

This topic can be touchy.

Everyone has a different perspective on it. Whether they’ve had success in the writing universe or not.

I have my own opinion. Whether others listen that’s their choice. Or if they are listening, it’s the questions of importance. Did they learn anything from it? Do they stand behind me or do they simply see where I’m coming from?

That’s the thing about being a writer, new or a veteran. There is not always a lot of feedback. It can be hard to determine whose side of the equation your readers are on. But as the Author of the opinion, it is your job to find out through people’s reactions to your work.

Then you have to decide where you stand. Are you writing for exposure or for pure enjoyment.

Of course you can have a say as both. Perfectly logical, but it devoids the point.

Pick a side, present your case, and stick to it like your life depends on it. In other words is your writing a business or is it just your  brain child that you’ve shoved out there?

It all depends on how you choose to look at it.

In full honesty writing is my business. I love to write. I can’t go a day without it. It’s been one of the longest present things in my life. Writing has never failed me. Though here I am calling it my business. Writing IS my life. I wake up in the morning and it’s what am I going to write next? 

I am a writer, the writer life found me. I have no idea how, but here I am writing about writing. Go figure.

Needless to say writing is not easy.  It’s easy in the word perspective. I mean all you do is put words on paper. But it is so much more than that. Writing is a psychological experience of living life through one’s fingers. Through one’s words.

When you become serious about writing, you have to push forward a differentiation. Are you writing to find and connect with people or are you writing for the hell of it?

Writing with no boundaries for me became this chase. I chased after my character. I chased after my plot. I became a puppet and my book became the puppet master. I had no idea where I was going with it, it was steering me in my own direction. First draft ended up a bloody nightmare. Writing with no sense of direction was not the correct route for me, but I figured it out through experience and that’s okay.

In my own opinion, writing for exposure has given my writing a purpose. A meaning behind each word. Running out into the writing world has awakened me to all these possibilities. I see something I want to do and I do it because I know if I don’t I will regret it. Writing is freedom.

Writing for exposure has allow me to write what I feel and know that it is good enough because it’s out there. There are no more obstacles, there is no more fear.

I chopped off the monster’s head and threw it into the passing crowd.

Someone out there is going to see my purpose as I see it myself.  The adventure is finding them. How can that not be the opportunity of a lifetime?

Put your work out there. Kill the monster that is your self-doubt and get it out for the world to see. Regret will be a word you no longer know.

The Devil’s Retreat

It’s amazing how time flies. One minute you’re a nobody. The next 2 hours of your life, you’re suddenly an accomplished individual who knows what they are doing and what their next move is.

Wrong!

Becoming an Indie author can be a stressful decision. Whoever says it’s easy has never had to work at it. It’s not easy. It’s this compilation of fifty different people telling you their take on it and then you talking to yourself saying, oh boy where do I begin? The truth is you are your business in the Indie market. Don’t let it deter you away. If you want it bad enough, go for it.

My novel, The Devil’s Retreat, just released. I can confide, I was not scared, but undeniably terrified. A week before the release I fretted during every second awake. What haven’t I done? Did I forget something? Has it been edited enough? I was overwhelmed. Excitement turned to frustration, and in the aftermath of sitting at my computer for hours on end, it all came to a head. I realized a little something. The lessons I have learned from this experience and the time I spent going over my writing goals, and oh so stressing about EVERYTHING.  It got me where I need to be.

I was pushing myself to finalize everything and forcing myself to edit in every chance of free time I got. The writing flame inside me, reignited.

“I’m back!” I exclaimed at 4 am, while rubbing my sleep deprived eyes.

The drive inside me came back. After months of  succumbing to a paperless oblivion, the writing beast inside my head finally regurgitated some words.

All that worrying and what I did was achieve a lifelong  dream. I got my novel published.  It was a challenging feat that took two years worth of work and planning, but it happened. It has changed my view on the world.

I was always under the impression that being an Indie author wasn’t professional at all. It was traditional or no way. I spent two years of my life researching the markets and doing novel research. I learned myself wrong. Self-Publishing has become huge. It’s how much work you put into it that makes a difference. I self published and do not regret anything.  I have a long road ahead of me and years worth of work to smash into the next four months. To face the facts. It could have taken years to secure an agent, and even longer to get a publishing contract. I have time now. I have none to waste. I have stories to tell.

After years of dreaming of being a writer, I put my book out there on the market. Now its time to keep moving up. For me it has never been about writing a good story. It has always been about writing a story I would want to read. For years I have been searching for that story that sucks me in and refuses to let go. A story that I can never forget. I haven’t found it yet, but I’m on my way to writing it.

While I work on my next novel, my hope is to find the values in my writing that I placed in my first book. The Devil’s Retreat is not a hapless book with no common ground to it. There is a purpose behind it. That purpose conforms around the idea that coal mining is a dying practice across the world.

I grew up in a coal mining and farming community. I am not unfamiliar with the problems expressed in my book. The problems, fictionalized to a degree, ring a level of importance. What happens when coal becomes a thing of the past? What will we do without it? In the same case, what is coal doing to our environment? Why should we rely on coal when there could be alternatives out there? The book is not meant to bring clear answers it is meant to explore a series of what ifs.

My stories need purpose. I want them to teach something. I want to force the reader to think about something maybe they wouldn’t normally approach.