Time for the stereotypical reflection that comes with every new year. Despite the lack of visible progress with my Fictional Work, 2013 was a good year. I wrote a lot, learned even more, and came to some interesting conclusions. Oh, and I won a contest, in case I haven’t tweeted, Facebook posted, and crowed about this enough.
For 2013, I focused on attacking pro markets and while I came up empty, I learned a lot about myself, my writing and the entire process. My crit group was key in all this as well as a small, but growing, network of fellow writers and dreamers. Over the break, I came to a decision for the new year which might have been obvious from my previous posts. I’m going to hit the self-pub market this year. Not just with a collection of short stories (still in progress as I wait on a story or two to free up), but with Collateral Damage, my first book.
Conventional wisdom says “don’t leave your day job.” It says “you might get rejected 100 times before your book gets published.” It says “keep treading water in the slush piles, someone will find you sooner or later.” It says “write to the market.”
But Fictional Work isn’t about conventional wisdom.
I left the day job long ago. I’ve been self employed for nearly six years now. It’s been a struggle, for sure. When I left, my goal was to find work I enjoyed doing that afforded me the most possible control over my life and allowed me to focus on the things that really mattered, family at the top of the list. I bounced from private investigation (with the same pitfalls as the career I left) back into my former life as a graphic artist and was content for a while.
All that time though, I kept searching for that perfect job not realizing I’d been given the answer all of my life but had turned a blind eye to it. Notes from teachers about creative writing skills, seeking out college courses where papers and essay tests determined your grades, creating outrageously complex worlds for role playing games, deciding one month a few years back when business was slow to write “a bit” and selling a half dozen articles in that time. Writing is more than a thing I do but a thing I am.
As someone who is self employed, borrowing on the goodwill of my amazing wife, I don’t feel I have the luxury of waiting for someone to discover me. I don’t have the luxury of telling her and everyone how I’m a writer who has yet to publish anything of note. This isn’t a hobby or a second, wannabe career. Sure, a few short stories have seen print here and there, a hilariously fun contest win, but I have an entire catalog of worlds drifting among the flotsam of desperate creative minds who are likewise hoping and praying someone tosses them a line.
Fuck that. I’m going to swim.
This isn’t the delusional flailing of a man staring at a mirage on the horizon. This isn’t the “well, nobody likes my stuff, they must not appreciate my genius” conclusion of someone who is chasing a dream that isn’t truly theirs. I can write. I know this much. I can tell stories that engage people, that they remember and talk about. I just don’t have the time to sit around and wait for someone else to verify this. I don’t -need- someone else to verify it. What I need is to move inventory. I need to find my audience; an audience which I know will probably be a niche of a niche that traditional publishers could care less about.
What I need is to create my own success. That’s it. That’s my resolution. How about you? Are you ready to commit to your fictional work?