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August 2018

Believe in yourself, aka, fan mail

I remember my first “fan” very clearly. My good friend Eve (hope you don’t mind me mentioning your name here). I don’t want to be insulting. To me, the word “fan” conjures ridiculous idol worship with screaming and pandemonium. That’s not what I mean by the word fan. I guess the best way to describe it would be someone who likes my work, a reader if you will. She begged me for chapters, rereading them when I needed her to so I could go on. If it weren’t for her, I don’t know if I ever would have finished that first book and gone on to write more. Thanks, Eve, my gratitude is never ending for that gift you gave me.

Since then I have had other “fans”. People who have told me how much they love my books. People I have inspired to keep going with their own personal goals and challenges. People who have started writing because of me, and people who have thanked me for making a book/story they really liked.

My initial reaction was typical, confidence. I can do this. My writing is good. Keep going. People like it. Then, as more and more queries proved fruitless, and the sales flatlined, that confidence waned. I debate quitting. I’m not a quitter, so it was very very hard for me, but there comes a time when you have to decide what’s best for you. Should I keep spending time, money, and emotional muscle on a barren endeavor? Then a newer, better story pops up, and I write it; the cycle begins again.

I’m currently on another new story, my last one still in the waiting area (don’t worry-it’ll get there soon enough-see below). And by now I’ve learned depression and bouts of quitting are all part of the process. I’ve also learned something else. I was watching a video this morning of Patrick Stewart announcing a return to Star Trek. He talked about a letter written to him by a cop who needed his show to survive. Literally.

That’s when I realized. I’ve had that. I’ve actually had people write me to say how much my writing, my journey has meant to them. I’ve had people thank me for getting them back into reading when nothing else could. And this has taught me a great great lesson.

I have accomplished.

I had never, I repeat, never been one to care about what others thought, to hit some stupid standard of society. My heart was always elsewhere. But when I think hard about it, I do. I want to be traditionally published. Why? Stigma. I want to feel like I have accomplished something. I ask myself what. I have a great family, a son I couldn’t ask better for, everything I need and more, and a promised ending for my soul. What more could I ask for? But it keeps at me. But then “a fan” says or writes something to me, and I realize, that’s what matters.

If I never get an agent. If I never land a publisher. If I never make a noticeable income from my books. I have accomplished something in this life I can be proud of.

Back to my last story in the waiting area. I lost passion for it. I don’t know why. The queries had no results, and I honestly thought it would be a shelved piece. But I had several people want a copy, signed for that matter. I figured after my current WIP I would print up a few just for those people, but after today, I think I might publish it afterall. If they loved it that much, maybe someone else will too.

I hope this post has inspired you as much as that video inspired me. If you have touched one person, you have accomplished.

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Don’t be afraid to break your own rules

Pretty sure this is a common problem with most if not all writers. We write something and then insist that every single word after that correlates with those first words. That’s not how it has to be. This isn’t a perfect world, you’re not a perfect person, your writing isn’t perfect. You can use that delete key!

Just because the new something you wrote doesn’t follow previous set rules doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It could be the previous work that needs readjusting. As soon as you realize what you’ve done, sit and think. Which is best? Which will provide the best experience for the reader? Can’t decide? No problem, leave a little side note and come back to it when you’ve written more. A lot of these things take care of themselves. Right now the planned ending for my current piece is a cliffhanger. Readers don’t like that, but I’m not sweating it. I know things will change a dozen or more times before I get there, and I can worry about it then. (Of course I’m still holding out for not having to 😉 )

Can’t bear the thought of removing or changing your beautifully crafted words? No problem. Cut them out and paste them in a special section title “removed” or something like that. (If using Scrivener, be sure to paste them in the notes section instead of the actual document area to prevent an off word count.) Those words are not lost forever, and yes, I have actually gone back and used them on multiple occasions. One thing I do is before transporting my piece from Scrivener to Word, I reread all my notes, deleting the ones I’ve taken care of or are obsolete and then doing the same with the removed section. By the time I’m using Word, my piece is to the point I know what I will and will not put back in or throw away.

Good luck with your writing, and don’t be afraid to contradict your previous work! It may just be the best thing for it.

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