Words In Progress

Last month my wife encouraged me to treat my writing like a startup – work at my day job to pay the bills and have insurance, etc., but don’t treat writing as just something I do on the side occasionally. If I want to ever be free of the day job, I have to accept I’m going to be working extra long days at it. As I heard attributed to Howard Tayler once, “Being a writer is great! You only have to work half a day. It’s just picking which 12 hours that’s going to be.”

Since I started treating it seriously last month, and through a little trial and error, I’ve found my rhythm. I now aim to get 1500 words in before I leave for work. Most days, that means if I run a little late getting the words together, it’s fine (I’m not on a strict schedule). I have to clarify, though – I am not a morning person. I struggle to make it to that first cup of coffee. I try to walk the dog, make coffee, and get a shower before I start writing. Not because I want these as part of my morning routine, but because they are the only way to guarantee my eyes might be open when I get to the keyboard.

Why mornings then? Because I’m also a pragmatist at times. Not often, and at great pain, but I can occasionally see my way to a rational argument. The rational part here is that as soon as I log into work or step out the door, my day is out of my control. I could go to work, have a quiet day, and be home by 7 or 8. Or, I could go to work, not see a break for 12+ hours, and get home around 11. Quite frankly, in both scenarios, by the time I get home I’m usually a little to mentally worn out to then sit down and hack out 1500 words. By doing it first thing in the morning, I can get on with my down with the satisfaction of knowing that I accomplished at least one thing.

Why 1500 words? Partly because it’s a good pace for me. Secretly, also because Stephen King recently said in a talk that he does about 6 pages a day. At 250 words a page in most paperbacks, that’s roughly 1500 words. Seemed like a good target 🙂

So where does that leave me? In the last two weeks, I’ve written over 28k words. Yes, that’s more than 1500 words a day – that’s part of what’s great about writing to a target. You usually overshoot it trying to get everything out of your head. I am currently at just shy of 43k in my work in progress. When I started writing this epic fantasy, I thought I’d be lucky to make it to 60, maybe 70k.

I’m at 43k and I don’t consider myself quite halfway there yet. I don’t have an outline, but I do have a broad stroke of where the story has to go before I get there. And I can’t wait to get this one out there.

Norlith Reaches

Last day to get A Scent of Roses free!

For those that read the blog and don’t follow on social media, my first novel on Amazon is free through today!

Blurb:

As she passed Mr. Sigmund she caught a whiff of something. Beneath his thickly applied Old Spice and the scent of too much detergent, she could smell something distinctly floral. Zoe stopped, startled. It was coming from Mr. Sigmund, the scent of lavender and rose petals.

“Come back prepared tomorrow,” he said, waving her out of the room. Zoe stumbled into the hallway backwards, staring at Mr. Sigmund as he closed the door. The smell of flowers seemed to waft from every pore of his body, following her into the hall until it was cut off abruptly by the closed door. She stood still for a moment, books and papers in hand, and stared back through the glass partition.

When Zoe Sides smells roses, someone is about to die.

Winter snows are setting in, and everyone in town is beginning to smell of roses. Before the snow thaws, Zoe and her band of survivors will face an evil that has fed on humans for millennia, wearing the husks of the dead like masks to move among us.

The possessed priest – kicked out of the church for the death of a parishioner, Father Ted is little more than the town drunk now. But he drinks to keep the voice trapped in his head quiet.

Beverly, the elderly librarian – having lost her son years ago, she’s swept up by events when Father Ted shows up on her doorstep begging for help.

Will they be able to survive the coming winter? Or will they be picked off one by one to feed the entity that calls itself the Throng?

Available on Amazon

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.