Thursday, April 3, 2008

Keep on, Keeping On

Guess I lied to y'all, since I didn't get the rest of my list up as I promised yesterday. I've been working some long and crazy hours so things didn't work out the way I wanted. Furthermore, I'm not going to list my favorite posts from the past six months today either, because I'm tired, and frankly I don't feel like going back and looking in my archives and deciding which was my favorite. It's my day off and I plan to spend most of it working on Plundered Booty.

But I really appreciate all of you who commented and wished me well on my year anniversary. Many of you have been here to read the past six months worth of posts anyway and for that I am grateful. Since several of you mentioned you like my posts about writing the most that is what I'm going to do today - talk about the craft of writing fiction, or more aptly the way I handle naysayers and oddsmakers when it comes to selling novel length fiction.

I'm always hesitant to do so since one, there are so many other bloggers with better credentials than I. Sure I have sold a short story here and there, won a couple of contests and completed three nearly four novels, but there are nearly a dozen accomplished novelists on my blog roll alone.

So you might ask. Why even try? Why try to write a post on writing? Why bother to write at all? Look at your odds. There are millions of wanna-be authors out there competing for the attention of agents and editors. And even if you do land an agent and sell that novel chance are you'll barely make a ripple. Few writers ever make it to the point where they can quit their day job? What's the point? Why put yourself through years of hard work and rejection only to have marginal success in the end?

Man, y'all are cynical today.

Okay, maybe you didn't ask all those questions, but I've heard every one of them over the years. At one point the doubters, dream killers, and pessimists bothered me. But these days I say let them wallow in the negativity because there are a lot of reasons why I should write, both a post on writing and my novels.

No one person alive has seen everything I have or experienced the exact events as me. And it is the little everyday occurrences that shape who we are and our outlook. That means they could never tell a story the exact same way you will. We are all unique. The points I focus on and bring to light will not be the same as you. Only through experience have i learned not to underestimate my ability to bring something new to the table. But first I've had to learn how to trust my ability and natural voice so that the piece is truly unique in some way. In other words, be the best YOU can be and don't worry about the competition.

Yes, it is a tough business, but I have a steady job. I'm not taking food away from kids to write. I can afford a bit of paper and ink and even if I never become the next Stephen King, or John Grisham I can at least say I tried. (I have no doubt that I will sell a novel but I'm talking about selling well and often enough to become a full-time writer. That is my ultimate goal for my career.)

And true, there a lots of others writers more qualified to give advice or to write, but there are just as many that aren't. I've have made my share of mistakes over the passed seven years and I've taken a few lumps for it, but at the same time I've learned a few lessons that maybe will help somebody else. I do not believe for a second there is any one way to get there. There is only your way. Maybe your plan is to get an MFA from a prestigious program, or to earn your stripes via short stories, or to lurk in the bar at a thousand writing conferences until you find an agent or editor drunk enough to say yes. Who knows which path will lead you to success. Keep trying and you will eventually find it, but in the meantime there are a lot of wrong way detours and the key is to stay off those winding paths.

So keep writing and keep trying. I'll do the same and one of these days our novels will sit proudly on the shelf together.

If all else fails, turn around and moon your dissenters ...

I took the above shot at the Albuquerque zoo last fall. I'm going to try and get back in the habit of posting pictures I've taken in more of my posts.


Clare2e said...

"...lurk in the bar at a thousand writing conferences until you find an agent or editor drunk enough to say yes."

Are you peeking at my business plan, Travis?

Srsly though, it's great advice to remember that our voices -- no matter how ordinary or insignificant they might seem to us sometimes -- are indisputably unique and worthwhile.

Bina said...

You actually wrote some books? Are they published? I go over to from time to time. There are all kinds of stories and poetry that people write and post. It's pretty interesting. But, I had no idea you were a WRITER! I'm impressed.

So, I do have a question. I read a LOT, but nothing educational mind you. However, it amazes me how many mistakes I see in books. Not big ones, but things such as:

She instead of He, or a duplicated word, or a word left out, or one spelled wrong.

Who proofs books before they get printed and sold? I think I would be good at that. I love finding mistakes in books and newspapers. Makes me feel better about myself! LOL

Laura (Kramarsky) Curtis said...

When we started Women of Mystery, none of us were published, and we wondered whether anyone would want to read what we had to say about writing, reading, and the vagaries of the publishing industry. As it turned out, people did think it was interesting to hear from the "great unwashed/unpublished" (I'm unpublished, but only unwashed on particularly bad days) because our experiences are most likely *their* experiences. We go to conferences and lurk in bars, which lets them decide whether that's a possible option for them, etc.

So I say, good on ya. Keep it up! And skip the blog if it interferes with Plundered Booty...that's far more important!

Josephine Damian said...

TE: JA Konrath says it best, "There's a word for a writer who never gives up... published."

Sam said...

I just like peeking into other people's lives.
Your stories are fun.
It's hard to blog all the time and sparkle. (You feel like you gotta sparkle). But it's just as nice getting some news or seeing a photo.

Melissa Marsh said...

These two lines right here:

No one person alive has seen everything I have or experienced the exact events as me. And it is the little everyday occurrences that shape who we are and our outlook.

are very, very powerful and so spot-on.

debra said...

Happy belated anniversary, Travis. Keep on trucking and writing.

The Anti-Wife said...

If all else fails, turn around and moon your dissenters ...

Perfectly stated!

Skiingred said...

Yeah! Keep writing, Travis! Through some personal issues, I haven't been able to find the spark again to write in about 2 years... you are definitely an inspiration.

Writing can be a lonely job so relish the times when you are around other writers, pubbed or unpubbed. Feed off them - take their energy and make it your own. Keep writing - when the time is right, there will be an audience for your stories!

Shauna Roberts said...

I enjoy your writing posts most, too. I too would like to make a living at fiction writing, and everything I can learn from anybody, published or unpublished, helps me on my way. It's also fun to follow other writers' journeys.

alex keto said...

don't worry about credentials. Tom Clancy was a nobody selling insurance before he made it. But he had talent. Where do you put that down on your resume?

Kaleb said...

Keep on ignoring the doubters, dream killers, and pessimists. They'll point to your book in the store one day and say 'I met that guy once'.

Best of luck,

Marla said...

I do love pictures in posts. I am a photography addict though as you can tell from my blog. Have a great day!

Carleen Brice said...

Dude, tell any naysayers you are a big ole Texas guy writing women's fiction. You'll stand out in the marketplace!

Cicily Janus said...

Great post. Especially the last few lines about the moon...



theneatos said...

superbly stated ... (clap)

You totally rock. I absolutely adore your views and the fact that you take the time to share your experiences with us.