Throughout my journey of literary writing, I’ve learned many lessons.Tweet
The biggest experience is that literary writing is tough. So tough in fact that I now know to laugh in the face of people that ask for more of my short stories on my webpage shortstories4u2share.com by saying, “Why don’t you just hurry up and write something?” They think it is just a matter of sitting down and coming up with something in just a matter of minutes. Well, for those of you that think it’s that easy, let me fill you in on what I’ve learned thus far.
Writing takes time. Writing takes a lot of thought. Writing takes a lot of work. Writing takes a toll on the mind and body through stress. Writing takes commitment. Writing takes dedication. Writing takes passion. Writing takes sweat, laughter, tears, heartache, and all other emotions you immerse yourself into to connect with your work. Writing can cause a lot of heartache between the author and their family. Writing takes sacrifices. Writing takes acceptance of criticism and denial. Writing takes practice!
“Oh, the time! Where did it all go?
And why did I allow so much of it to get away from me?” These were the questions I asked myself the moment I ended my rough draft of my newest manuscript. I couldn’t believe I allowed my work to take so long to finish. I had lost my commitment to time. I had lost the dedication to write. I let everything else distract me from my only goal at the time; Complete the manuscript! Not a fully polished, fully edited manuscript, but the complete storyline itself. You can’t move on to all those things that are required to make your dream of becoming an author a reality if you cannot even complete the first step; the rough draft.
I had led myself to believe that the current life I was already stressing over was more important than working on my dream to change that life, which was causing my stress in the first place. The moment I realized this, I sat down and stressed over finishing my manuscript to fulfill my dream, and I finished something I started years ago in just a few short weeks. I found that I enjoyed stressing over how my characters were going to interact within their world. I enjoyed the stress of forcing something to appear on my screen when my brain had struck a brick wall. The more I wrote, the better my mind felt. The better I felt. All I can say is, enjoy the time. Make it fun. Don’t let the stress around you keep you away from the fulfillment of overcoming the importance of writing. You wouldn’t believe how much you enjoyed that roller coaster ride until you’ve completed the actual rough draft. Warning! There will be more stress (a lot more!) when you begin editing, and working on getting your dream published whether you go traditional, Indie, or self-publishing. Oh, my achy, breaky brain and heart!
Speaking of stress…
Do not allow your passion for writing to create tension in your home! We all know the term, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Well, for those of you with husbands change that to include “Pappa” too. There were days that I had allowed my passion for completing my work to override my duties as a husband and father. My wife let me know one day that she wasn’t happy, and I was doing nothing at the time to make up for it. I closed my laptop right then because I realized I did not want to wake up tomorrow in front of a judge with a pile of divorce papers in front of me. My dreams of being an author have always included my wife and children, and I was not doing my duty of fulfilling that particular part of my goal. If you cherish your spouse and your children, stop writing! Sacrifice that specific day, no matter what day it is, and do everything you can to make it up to your family because if you don’t, then a dream fulfilled alone is a dream you’ll find you never wanted to be fulfilled at all. While you’re at it, help them to understand your passion for writing. You’ll find they are more understanding when you actually “talk” to them instead of sitting in front of your computer, ignoring them.
I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of things to work on my writing. I enjoy fishing. I enjoy watching movies and TV with my wife. I enjoy spending my days off of my day job lounging in my recliner staring blankly at the TV. I enjoy playing video games with my sons. I enjoy napping. I gave up all of this because I want to learn what it is like to enjoy life as an author more. When you sacrifice all that you enjoy doing to make your writing dream come true, don’t sacrifice your family time as I had previously stated.
I’ve sat and cried over my keyboard as I wrote specific passages in my previously published Fantasy novel, Archon: Gift of Life. (If you haven’t read it then you will not understand why.) Just months ago, I was rolling with laughter, non-stop, after writing a few passages in my upcoming Science Fiction manuscript, Chronicles of Human Being: Being, Human. My mind had was immersed in that particular part of the storyline, and I was trying to convey what I saw playing out in my mind into words upon my computer screen without stopping because I was laughing so hard. My wife became upset with me because I was laughing for what she thought was “no good reason”.
Accepting criticism is hard.
Finding an agent or publisher that wants to work with you is even harder. Don’t be arrogant. Learn from any criticism you receive. Oh, if I had only known that a few years back! I thought Archon: Gift of Light was just magic waiting to publish. Boy, I was so wrong. I could not believe the audacity of these people that kept turning me down. To this day, I regret trashing an agent’s letter she had sent to me about my query to her. I remember her telling me, “I found your query compelling, but after reviewing your manuscript, I don’t feel it’s right for me at this time. I hope you find someone willing to take the time to work with you. Thank you for your interest in me.” I remember those words so vividly because I was shocked and furious! After a few more of those, I said, “Forget it!” and paid for Indie publishing. Worst mistake. Ever. I spent a whole lot of money on grammar and structural editing, cover art, print, and digital layout, paperback printing on-demand, and electronic distribution. What I didn’t get and never learned about until now was **A-D-V-E-R-T-I-S-I-N-G! I also discovered why that lady was so very kind enough to respond to my query personally. My so-called “polished” manuscript was ugly (with a capital “F”). If you receive a response as I had, don’t it ignore it or become upset from it. Just follow their advice. I learned that she was interested the moment she read my query, but she couldn’t get over how “Fugly” my manuscript was.
**If you do not know anything about advertising then I suggest you start studying now! Create your very own author website announcing yourself and your writing to your eventual fans even if it isn’t complete yet. Don’t tell the story. Give them the synopsis! If you tell everyone the tale then consider it “Published”, and you’re done. Continue to update them through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Show publishers, agents, and any other publishing resource you decide upon how much you’re willing to do on your own to sell yourself.
So much practice!
In all things done well, practice, practice, practice! I learned that the hard way too. Just go to shortstories4u2share.com and start with my very first short story. Then continue reading each one. They’re in chronological order in which they were written. You’ll see the maturity of my writing grow as you progress through time. At one point, I had to admit to myself, “I was so not a mature writer.” Maybe I’m not still, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing because of it. I’m going to continue practicing through my short stories as I continue to write more significant manuscripts. I recommend that you try something similar to create maturity in your writing. *Even a personal journal can be considered practice as long as you continue to write in it.
Last, but most certainly not in the least…
I learned that it was hard for me to accept the fact that I was the only one who believed in my work. Yes, that is a very tough lesson, but it’s true. No one within your family, friends, co-workers, etc. truly knows what you’ve gone through to get this far except for the rest of us that have. If you genuinely believe in your work after putting in the same lessons that I had to learn the hard way, then own it. Put your name on it with sincere pride. This is your work! Nobody else worked as hard as you did to make it happen. Smile! You’ve earned it.
I genuinely hope that I’ve helped you learn some valuable lessons about the world of writing from the lessons that I’ve learned the hard way.
Even though I don’t carry a degree in any field, I had taken “Constructive Writing” and “Critical Writing” courses back when I thought I knew I wanted to be a web developer. Boy, was I wrong on that! The sessions helped me build upon my real desire to become a writer from back when I was in fifth grade and writing short stories for class assignments. Mrs. Kelly loved my stories so much that she encouraged me to continue, I wish now that I had taken her advice even before graduating high school because I find it so rewarding today.
As always, if you like what you’ve read, then let me know by clicking the “Like” button. If you want to leave a comment, then use the “Comment” box below. Or just look up “LS Quail” on Facebook and Twitter to follow me for updates about my progress on my Science Fiction, Chronicles of Human Being: Being, Human. If you would like to read some of my short works, then visit shortstories4u2share.com.
Have fun and remember… SMILE!-L. S. Quail