Commitment

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?

13 thoughts on “Commitment

  1. Michelle Mueller

    Your conviction is encouraging to read. I suffer from moments of self-doubt and worry, but then I remind myself that writing is what I do — it’s who I am — and it’s the only thing I truly want to do. As writers, sometimes we have to pave our own paths in order to be successful. I wish you the best on your journey.

    • Russell Linton

      Thanks for stopping by my blog, Michelle! Never doubt for an instant. Writing, as you know, is full of rejection and you are the only one that can provide the final direction for your craft. My turning point was realizing that I believe in what I’m doing and seeing that filtering things through one critical reader (agent, editor, publisher) at a time is the least efficient way to meet my goals. I could go on for years waiting for someone to “like me” or, I can take it directly to the readers and see for myself what happens. I can only do that if I believe it is ready and believe it is the best it will be. Of course, I have to be ready to asses and accept failure as well, but it is all mine to own. Thanks for the kind words!

      • Michelle Mueller

        I agree. With the changes brought about by the popularization of the ebook, authors are now able to make these choices — whether to try traditional publishing or to self-publish. Sometimes I also think that, with the right marketing, a smaller publishing company isn’t a bad idea either. There is always going to be someone somewhere who will want to read your work. And if you have total control over the direction your work takes, then you may even have a better chance of finding those readers than if you had waited around for the right agent/publishers. Either way, if you believe in what you are writing, then I don’t doubt that you’ll meet your goals! I look forward to seeing how it goes for you. 🙂

  2. Robyn LaRue

    I’m with you! Though, in a curious twist of fate, it’s entirely possible I’ll have a self-pubbed novel and a novel through a digital press out in 2014. Besides, I’m hearing so many agents advise getting the work out there and finding an audience first. Ah, these changing times. 🙂

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