My mother once told me that when I reached real womanhood – which she defined as menopause, because you aren’t existing for any purpose but to be – I would feel delight in throwing away the rule books on many aspects of my life.
Over the course of the last few years, I kept thinking about what Mom said. The thoughts always returned back to the same question: Why do I have to wait until I’m there (although, yes, admittedly, I’m not far from there)?
I had always steered clear of self-publishing or even blogging outside of my LiveJournal. I have been convinced that if I didn’t go the traditional route of getting an agent and then having the agent sell my stuff, I wasn’t a “real” author. Not being a “real author” also precluded me from talking to other authors.
But, then I watched other authors, ones like Christina Katz, Elizabeth Bear and Caitlin R. Kiernan, put their stuff out there via the Web or via subscriptions and being successful and it leading to more and more success. They were self producers. I went to writing conferences. I took classes from other writers. I talked to them over a coffee or glass of wine (they were happy to talk to me, even though I was an introverted fangirl that didn’t always know the right thing to say). It was clear that self-producing was part of, as Katz says, “surviving in the gig economy” that modern writers live.
If I wanted to be successful, I had to be brave and get my work, get me, out into the world.
Almost always my coffee table is covered in books. Research books. School books. Books in my genre to read. Magazines on publishing and world events. All manner of everything. I went out and got that material without much prompting – why couldn’t I go out and get some “gigs?”Besides we all know the internet makes it a whole lot easier to move from unknown to “followed.” Faster and faster I was learning that I had any number of paths to find areas to get my writing in. In 2007, I reached out to other writers in my community and founded SnoValley Writes!, which is growing, as is the success of my fellow authors in that group. I didn’t follow the rules – I just went out and said, “Hey, let’s get this going.” Together nearly 50 of us are “reaching for new literary peaks.” In just a little over two years, our group is being published in newspapers, magazines and literary journals. We also have a few lucky ones that are being considered to be represented. We worked together to make things happen.
For my own personal “gigs,” I am currently working several projects and being as productive as possible. I’m entering contests; submitting articles, agent queries and launched this blog and then took another self-producer, my friend, Samantha Tiner, and partnered with her for a partnership in a web novel, Martius Catalyst, which just launched this week.
I’m no longer waiting around or following some archaic belief that there’s only one way to be a writer. The opportunities are endless. However, it won’t be delivered to your door step.
I often tell my fellow writers the story about a friend of mine who upon learning that I was having a short story published asked me how she could go about getting her novel published. “I have it sitting in a shoebox in my closet,” she said. My response was, “Get it out there! It won’t be published sitting in a box in the closet!”
Additionally when I hear people say, “Someday I’ll write (insert novel, article, poem).” I say, “Someday is today.”