I promised more specific details in the future, and there will be, but for now I'd like to talk about how I got to this point. I'd also like to discuss the transformation that, I believe, all authors go through. (The point of this post.) BUT FIRST ...
NA LIT CHAT IS THIS WEEK
The inaugural New Adult Twitter chat is this week! If you follow me on Twitter, you're probably sick of hearing about it. I've also mentioned it on this blog a couple of times. But just incase you aren't up to date, I'll give it a final shout-out here.
Basically, I'm teaming up with the wonderful ladies over at the NA Alley Blog (click to check them out, they rock) to facilitate a weekly Twitter discussion of New Adult literature. This week's topic is: The 5 W's of NA - What it is, who writes it, where it gets published, when it takes place in life, and why it's important.
So if you've ever wanted to know what NA is all about, this is the week to learn. It's also going to be a great place to meet folks who are writing and reading NA right now.
I'll be hosting this THURSDAY, 9 PM EST, and the cosmically cool Bailey from NA Alley will be moderating. To join in the discussion, just search for #NALitChat on Twitter and use #NALitChat in your messages at the appointed time.
If you want more info on what a Twitter chat is, and how to do it, be sure to check out the most recent post on the NA Lit Chat blog. There's also a calendar with upcoming chat dates and other FYI tidbits. Really hope you'll join us, and appreciate any tweeting or other types of promotion you might be able to do to help us get the word out.
THE EVOLVING AUTHOR
Last week I announced that I'd been working with an editor on a story I plan to see published in the near-ish future. Basically, I was all panicky about digging into the revisions, but excited about moving forward with the project.
You'll be happy to know, I quit being a coward and dove into the edits with my nose pinched shortly after I posted. (Your encouragement seriously helped me with that, btw.) I've made a ton of progress and can most definitely see it coming together now. Won't be long.
After reading some of the comments, it occurred to me that I probably ought to talk about where I'm at in my writing career or, more importantly, how I got here. Some of you have been with me since the Spring of 2010 when my first post went up, and I've changed my goals and priorities a bit since then.
I say "more importantly", because I think the changes I've gone through are the most relevant aspects to anyone else out there writing.
IN WHICH I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT I'M DOING
Okay, I wasn't completely clueless. But close. I barely knew what a query letter was. I'd just begun to understand what a market was and how that impacted publishing. Agents were unicorns to be stalked and studied from afar. And all of my writing was in third person limited POV because that's what Harry Potter was written in. (You think I'm joking. I'm not.)
I wanted to write fiction for teens (still do, btw) because that's what I enjoyed reading, and I'd worked with teenagers most of my adult life. I knew teenagers and could relate to them.
And I'm not talking about those awesome teens that have their poop together. I worked with the teens that struggled with life. The lost ones. The abusers and the abused. The fragile and the neglected. So I wanted to write things for them. Stories saved me as an early teenager, and I wanted to write things to save them.
Not that what I was writing was anything momentous or life-altering. I wasn't writing about racism or cancer, after all. My stories had robots, crude humor, and whatever else geeky, normal kids preoccupy themselves with. I aimed to tell stories that provided an escape. Because that's what all of my favorite stories gave me growing up.
I was a kid from small town Oklahoma who liked classical music, comic books, and drawing who wanted to pretend he was from anywhere BUT small town Oklahoma. Books let me do that.
A WRITER WHO DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO WRITE
Isn't that how we all start? If passion and desire are all it took to write a great story, I'd be dictating this to my butler while sipping cold drinks on a yacht somewhere in the South Pacific. Instead, I'm in my pajama pants, gulping down a Diet Dr. Pepper, and trying to keep my playful dog from yanking out the computer's power cord. Again. And I'm blogging from South-Central Texas, where we'd love to see a little rain this time of year, much less have an ocean view.
Good writers are great failures. I thought I understood that going in. I expected to struggle. In fact, I looked forward to it. This would be the most challenging thing I'd ever attempted. I'd declared myself to be "a writer" to my friends and family, and now my blog said so too. The clock had officially started. No more writing only on the weekends or vacation. I'd write every day. I'd set goals and have standards to live by. It wasn't IF I'd reach them, but when.
To be fair, I never dreamed I'd end up questioning my own intelligence. I never would've considered that I'd be stripped of every ounce of confidence and self-appreciation I had--sometimes daily. And I certainly wouldn't have believed that I'd get so lost and buried by it all that my dreams would no longer matter. Not sucking is all that mattered.
My wife has often told me, perplexed, over the last few years, "You're so confident in everything you do. Except writing." I think if she truly knew the number of hours I'd dumped into this only to reach a point where I can look in a mirror (most days) and honestly say, "I don't completely suck," she'd probably get it.
There were a billion little steps in the transition from what I thought writing--and subsequently becoming an author--was, and what it REALLY is. And I'm not even quite there yet.
Undoubtedly, the massive changes sweeping over the publishing industry have shifted my goals and expectations. Everyone is adapting on the fly these days it seems.
When I began, I thought I wanted to know that my book was on a shelf at the local Barnes & Noble. It took me a while to figure out that what I really wanted was to know that my book was in the hands of a reader. And I cared very little about how they got it.
Initially, I was consumed with learning about the business. That seemed like the biggest obstacle in my mind. How to talk to an agent, what's attractive to publishers, could I say "shit" on my blog and still write YA ... On and on it went, and I got further and further away from what mattered. The writing.
In the beginning, I wanted to write what I thought I was SUPPOSED to write, and write it how it was SUPPOSED to be written. Now I write the only way I know how to write, and have resolved to let readers determine if I've done it correctly.
This isn't some big FU to the establishment or conventions, btw. I have a book on craft on my bedside table in perpetuity. I draft and revise until the blood seeps from my fingers and eyes, then revise some more. I still keep up with agents, and listen when they say something is important. Entertaining readers and getting better with each story is still # 1 in my book. Lastly, I'd traditionally publish in a minute if the situation was right, AND I fiercely support independent authors. (Yes, you can say both.)
I've transformed my reality is all. And ultimately, I believe that's what being an author is truly about. Whether we're adapting our ideas to write the best story possible, or adjusting our professional aspirations and tactics to reach readers, the ability to change, to push for more, is what's going to determine our success.
What about you? Has your writing style changed? Has your career trajectory altered any from what you once thought it would be? Are you happy about it?
I think this song pretty well sums up my personal experience: