A year ago more or less I threw myself back into writing in the hopes that I could break out of my writer’s ADD and finish something. As I reflect on 2014 I can see how much I’ve grown as a writer but I also see how far I still have to go as an author.
The day I finished Super School–Marietta Smith I realized my writing had turned a corner. You always have this fear when you finish the first manuscript that finishing the story was just a fluke and that maybe you will never be able to do it again. With two first drafts finished and two more nearly ready to polish, now I know that I can get from one end of the story to the other. Not only that, but bhe story will be complete and not be just the first two chapters of a story which end in a cliff hanger.
I have one of those in my box of unfinished manuscripts. For fun one day I read the two chapters I had written to my daughter. When I got to the end of what I had written we both sputtered–but, but, what do you mean it stops there? Noooooo! What happens next? And I had no idea. I never wrote down the plot outline for that story. It is still maddening and she still mutters at me about it.
Looking back on this year I know I can get from the beginning to the end of a long story. The first draft might still have typos and sentences that need polishing, have too many commas or need plot doctoring, but I can hand it to someone and they can read it. Not just read it–but love reading it, and want to read more from me, and come back asking for the next one.
Now comes my hard part–becoming an author.
A ‘real’ writer writes and finishes. When a writer is brave they share their work with others and get feedback. Sometimes the feedback is good. Sometimes it is ‘your writing needs to grow in this way.’ There is nothing wrong with being a writer. I am thrilled to get to writer status with finished manuscripts. But I want to be an author. Maybe not a full time author (I love my day job in all honesty, even when it drives me insane) but definitely an author.
An author writes and then polishes and publishes setting their stories free into the wild. They have book covers and lists of statistics, email lists and an online platform. (Well, maybe not the last two, or at least not perfectly. My two most favourite authors in the world have a blog but they do not blog regularly and I have not found where to sign up for their email list but they write fantastic books and I will buy anything they write in hard cover as soon as it is published.) Authors manage the business part of writing and still write new stories.
At least my learning curve to get from writer to author is smaller than it was last year when I was still floundering around in the wilderness hoping I could finish something. When I started thinking about becoming an author I would panic because I didn’t know enough about it to even have a way to formulate the plan of how to learn what I needed to know. So overwhelming I ignored it and just kept writing. Always a good plan getting new words onto the page. It gives you the option of creating a back list when you finally get it all together.
This year, I have a better plan for how to find out and learn what I need to learn. I have found a couple of online courses to help me learn those pieces and I am getting together with my writing group to write a business plan and create a production schedule. I’m starting to figure out how to find editors because I know I will want both an editor and a line editor (other than my husband with his red pen). I’m investigating what it will take to have an online book store, manage an email list, and publish. When I think of creating a book cover, I still panic but I’m giving myself permission to practice these skills and not stop dead because I’m not doing it perfectly yet or I missed something. I’m trying to learn enough that I don’t make expensive mistakes while I am practicing, but I am trying to let myself grow.
In the end, this isn’t about perfect. It is about writing the stories and sharing them with you, dear reader.