There were times in my life when I never dreamed I’d be sitting here. My career has not taken a straightforward path and, quite frankly, I’m envious of those who have been steadily moving forward because I often feel like I’m moving in circles.
I remember when I was quite young I created pretend newspapers, telling the news of fictional communities or sometimes retelling events in my life. At that time, though, I had no interest in being a writer. I had other goals. First a nurse then a teacher then a mom and finally an astronomer.
It wasn’t until the age of nine or ten that I decided to be a novelist. It happened not long after I began writing fiction.
When I was young, until around the age of 23, I was never without ideas. My mind was crowded with characters and situations. I kept an idea book in which I wrote down my thoughts. Very few of them ever became stories, but a dozen became longer works, my first historical fiction novels.
I graduated with a bachelors in English. When I was 18, the recruiter for my university asked what I wanted to do for a living, then said, “You need to be an English major.” I never questioned it. I had no reason. No one ever tells you you can’t earn a living with an English degree unless you write or teach.
I began working for one of the local daily newspapers. Turns out real reporting did not interest me. There were other factors as well, but it was enough of a reason for me to leave and try other options.
And, of course, it wasn’t until later, hindsight being 20/20, that I realized my novels contained all the rookie mistakes.
- I never made notes before I started, or very few notes. It was all stream of consciousness. The plot went where I wanted it to go on that particular day.
- They were mostly dialogue.
- I overused adverbs and adjectives.
- I never did a draft beyond the rough one.
- I didn’t like the idea of having others edit my work because writing is an art form.
10 Year Break
I stopped writing fiction for a decade primarily for three reasons.
- I became jaded by the writing and publishing industry. I had no interest in magazines, writing an article and waiting nine months to hear a rejection. I also had no interest in writing short stories. I still don’t. Finally, I was jaded because I was tired of being told my work wasn’t any good.
- This was in the days before the Internet opened opportunities for writers, and I was forced to take a 9-5 job to earn a living. My grandfather had told me I would never make money writing, and he was right.
- I ran out of ideas. I tried revising some of my older works, but I somehow couldn’t fix them.
New Idea, New Inspiration
One day something extraordinary happened. I thought of a new idea. The idea refused to leave my mind so I wrote it down. For the most part committing them to paper is the best way for me to get ideas out of my head. In this case, it didn’t work. I kept thinking of the idea. That idea became my novel Angel of Mercy.
Despite this new idea, however, fiction remained pretty much on the backburner until a year ago, relegated to my spare time and late nights. By this time, I had the opportunity and the Internet tools to start my editorial business and, like any new business, it took much of my time.
A year ago, I told myself that I wasn’t getting any younger and if I didn’t try to pursue my dream of becoming a novelist, it would never happen and I would regret it until my dying day. After all, this new idea was burning inside of me for a reason.
I changed how I run my business, gave the boot to low paying clients and devoted every Friday to fiction. This allowed me to complete my manuscript, its consecutive drafts and conduct any additional research that was needed. It was the best decision I could have made.
The journey, however, is not yet over; the next hurdle is selling Angel of Mercy. I hope to jump that hurdle within the next six months. Wish me luck.
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