I’ve been a closet writer for nearly ten years now. I thought this was typical behavior for any writer. I never wanted to share my writing with anyone. I wanted to maintain the right to revise and revise again without criticism.
Last year I did something ridiculous and wild, just for the sake of getting over myself. I wrote a novel in a month, revised it for another month, and self-published it. Tada! I got harsh reviews, lovely reviews, this-wasn’t-ready feedback, and I liked all of it. Finally! People are reading me! People are telling me what to improve upon and what not to! Was it a little overboard to actually put it out there on Amazon? Probably. Yet prior to that I really could not think of a single person to send my manuscript to for honest feedback. I’d been writing in secret so long that the idea any of my friends would take three hundred pages seriously made me LAUGH. I also did not want to give myself the chance to fall back into the revise-forever syndrome. It was a place I would have stayed in, well, FOREVER.
This year I wrote a prequel to the first book (everyone said it needed a sequel). I was excited about it and I still am. But I have to admit this story is a lot more complex than the first. It will need a lot more work. I am not going to send it spinning out into the universe with the same speed and abandon. (I may even rewrite Coldness of Marek so the two of them fit the same genre.)
I am happy about this next phase– discovering the actual market for my work, understanding what does and doesn’t have a place in the reader world. I would be utterly hating it and terribly depressed were it not for some lovely people I stumbled over on Twitter. Really. So here is a new resolution of mine. If I wouldn’t be willing to let an agent look at it, it isn’t finished. I’m sorry if that means it will be a long time before you get to read the prequel (read the long story here). I don’t know what to say except that it will be really good when you do get it. I’m going to work hard on that story. I’m going to make it shine like the hood of a black ’70 Shelby.
Not to be overly dramatic or historical here, but I know a lot of this goes back to my life as a musician. I never thought I would be really great at music. I did it more as a social thing; a reason to travel with the fam and meet cool people. But it also embittered me a little towards audiences. I started to realize that those in the public eye will almost always be misunderstood and misrepresented, and that competition for the attention of that audience can become mean and stupid. Some fellow artists make themselves more important by taking you down, and other fellow artists who are gracious and beautiful people get stomped on because they are selfless and helpful. All of this would probably have been easy to put up with… if only music truly were my passion. It isn’t, and I got burned out. I’m not very into the idea of fame anymore.
This fall I ran into the gracious and beautiful people of the writer world… [most of them can be found]… at The Secret Life of Writers and YAMisfits. And I am so happy I did. All at once I don’t feel like a lonesome artist struggling against impossible odds to make just one little thing happen. These sweet peoples helped me realize I still have some of my insecurities lurking in strange places. And those insecurities are about to die.