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Where the inane meets the mundane

My new business venture – writing to sell

I find myself having some big thoughts lately about my writing. Focus changing thoughts. Life directing thoughts. The kind of thoughts my tenth grade English teacher would call epiphanies, and bless her heart she’d pronounce every vowel in that word like it was a gospel being sung. There were, incidentally, a lot of epiphanies in the books we read that year.

No, the question at hand is, “Is writing a hobby, or is it a job?” Is it something I do for fun, or is it something I want to make a business out of? Where do I want it go?

To date, I have made less than $100 with my writing, ever. A pittance, to be sure, and hardly something to justify as a successful business. But that is as much my fault – I’ve done nothing to make it more serious. I write when the mood strikes, wedging writing in between day job, family, and other activities. I don’t treat it seriously enough.

It is the daydream of many of us to be able to live off our writing. To spend our days weaving world’s that then put food on the table and roofs over our heads. I’m not talking rich or even well off, just comfortable. I recognize this is fantasy, a daydream without form, but how else do we realize our dreams but by trying? I know I’m not alone in this fantasy, either – look at any of the other folks out there struggling to get words out. But I’ve done nothing to turn that fantasy into reality, and I think that’s because I haven’t embraced my writing as an actual side career.

The time has come for a change. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have told you I’d never self publish. At the time, that was sound thinking. But things have changed since then, and the market for self published fiction has transformed a lot.

For a test run, last weekend I cleaned up a trunked novel, “A Scent of Roses,” put a cover together, and set it out on Amazon. I used to worry what friends and family would think when they read one of my novels. Based on my sales so far, I don’t have that worry any more.

What I do have is a game plan. I’ve turned a corner in my writing, and it was hard. I can no longer write like it was a hobby, something I did when the mood struck me or the moment was right.
Mood's a thing for cattle and loveplayI enjoy writing, and that’s something I will never compromise on. When it stops being something I enjoy, I’ll stop doing it. But if I’m serious about making a go at it, then I have to treat it more seriously. I have to treat it like a business venture, something I’m doing on the side from my “real” job, but something I’m willing to put the time and energy into, every day.

What’s next? Well, they say you have to spend money to make money. If I want writing to be a business, I have to be willing to put something into it. Time and energy are certainly large factors, but recently I contracted someone to help me clean up another of my novels: I hired a copyeditor.

I don’t expect this editor to make my story beautiful. I’m paying, but not enough for them to turn dreck into gold. But I do have a novel that I feel halfway good about, and I’m going to have them help me clean that up this summer. From there, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll try and get a publisher for it. Maybe I’ll self publish it too and see how it fares.

Either way, I’ve made up my mind to treat my writing not as a lark, something I do to tell stories on the side, but as a startup business I’m trying to get off the ground. I’ve spent longer than I probably should have getting ducks in a row, feeling things out, finding my voice. Now it’s time for me to put up or shut up. It’s time for me to start selling.

I like My Summer Reading Juice Pulpy

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So, I like to read. I admit it, and it should be no shocker to anyone, at least not on this planet. So far this year, I’ve played with a couple of different personal challenges. I tried reading exclusively from physical copies, which taught me a few things. First, that despite the convenience of digital formats (I mean, you really can’t beat being able to read anywhere, any time), I read paper copies faster. The other thing I learned was that as a practice, it isn’t sustainable long-term. Our lives are too cramped already – as much as it pains me to say it, there isn’t room to build a library in our apartment.

After that personal challenge, my next one was to change what I read. I’ve begun spreading my wings, attempting to read something non-genre (roughly) every other book. That’s not a hard rule, just a goal, but it’s been pretty educational so far and I can see continuing it for a long while.

None of that changes the fact that it’s almost summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, and my reading brain wants to have some fun. And what’s more fun in the summer than reading some pulpy science fiction (a genre, oddly enough, I associate more with summer vacations, whereas fantasy tends to be the fuel of autumn for me).

During an outing for some necessary errands yesterday, I had a chance to pop into Half Priced Books and pick up some fodder for that summer binge. “The Minerva Experiment” is actually the first three Giants books by Hogan collected in one late 70’s Book Club edition, which at some point in my youth I remember reading. The other, Gini Koch’s “Touched By An Alien,” has been on my pulpy fun books to read list for a long, long time, so when I saw it in the store, I couldn’t say no. It’s a small start, but it’s a start.

A Week Where I Was A Batman Villain And A Doctor Who Producing Monster. Sort Of.

I feel like this last week in particular has been one spent buried alive, thawed long enough to get to another doctor and then shoved back into stasis. Through it all, my wife has been a superstar, and the kids haven’t  been too bad themselves. Usually.

twoface1Last Sunday night, I started breaking out in a rash. It started with blisters on my hand, and by the time it stopped spreading I was a passable look-alike for Two Face. One cheek inflamed, welts across my back and shoulders. I tried taking over the counter antihistamines, but nothing helped. So I went to a doctor.

Allergic reaction: Confirmed.

Cause: Unknown.

The doctor put me on a bunch of steroids and sent me on. Only as the rash faded, I started developing a shortness of breath, a rasp after activity. I panicked, because this was beginning to remind me of the time I ended up in the hospital with congestive heart failure. No, I didn’t have many other signs, but I had enough to make me scared.

I went back to the doctor.

X-rays, more tests, and then on to another doctor. The end verdict is that as the allergy receded, bronchitis set in (probably due to fluid being drawn up in my body by the medicine).  I thought I might be dying this week. Turns out I just have bad luck and multiple ailments presenting themselves together. Dr. House would be proud.

waving adiposeThere was a bright lining to this story, if you can believe it. For starters, and I measured this FOUR times in disbelief, I’ve lost some weight, folks. And by “lost some weight,” I mean I’m still fat, but I’ve come down enough in the last year that you could produce a full-grown human from the mass I’ve lost. Not that you should. They’d end up being like a human sized adipose or something, which would just be terrifying. But still.

Which leaves me to the week ahead. After being out sick for the better part of a week, I have a lot of catching up to do. Work may have forgotten who I was. I have so much writing to do, it’s not even comical any more and has transformed down into straight out tragedy. But hey, I’m well rested, and while it lasts, I’m on so much steroids I can take a staircase without a single twinge of pain anywhere. Can’t breathe by the time I get to the first floor on account of the bronchitis compromising my lungs, but I have no exertion pain in getting there.

[FWIW, Wife and I have looked at some figures, and it appears I am likely allergic to one of three trees currently in bloom in the area. Upside, we know what probably causes it. Downside – it’s just going to keep happening. Bah.]

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