As an aspiring novelist, I dreamt of the day of seeing my work in the soft colorful cover of a book. I felt like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” save my published novel being my version of his “Red Rider BB Gun with the compass in the stock.” Like poor Ralphie, I schemed, calculated, and worked toward that goal.
I bought software to build a good plot (Dramatica – https://dramatica.com/). I answered the software’s two-hundred plus questions. I invested writing software packages like Final Draft (https://www.finaldraft.com/) Scrivener (https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview) and Papyrus Author (https://www.papyrusauthor.com/) I subscribed to an online thesaurus: MasterWriter (https://app.masterwriter.com/) My browser bookmarks and history became filled with references and resources. I invested time and money into learning this software (especially Joseph Michael’s Learn Scrivener Fast (https://scrivenercoach.kartra.com/)
I joined a local writer’s group here in San Antonio called the Alamo City Writers Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/233920974982391) I brought my meager attempts to them and learned. I went every Saturday and Sunday and days off to a local coffee shop (ironically called Local Coffee now Merit Coffee(https://meritcoffee.com/) and wrote and researched. I studied publishing options, marketing strategies, editors, writing coaches. I even lead an ill-fated writer’s small group at my church on Saturdays at the local library.
I spent some ten years world building. I wrote an impossibly long rough draft (War and Peace ain’t got nothing on me). I re-wrote said draft dividing it into three books. Hey! Who doesn’t like a trilogy? I saved money religiously. I decided I would use BookBaby (https://www.bookbaby.com/) and go for the deluxe package.
No, I didn’t “shoot my eye out.” Fear of failure created a procrastination monster that slowed, then halted my progress. I was Flick stuck to the flagpole. But it wasn’t some other kid “triple-dog-daring” me. It was my own fears of failure and even success that goaded me into putting my tongue (my writing voice) on to the cold metal. I languished in the world of second guesses and loss of confidence.
Then something else happened. Nope. Still didn’t shoot my eye out. It was COVID-19. Even though I was a nurse, I got furloughed. I worked in a busy operating room, but we went from 40 plus cases a day down to 5 to 10 emergency cases a day. And with the lockdowns, my writers group couldn’t meet.
Strange thing. It didn’t scare me. I knew God had my back. It was a kick square in my complacency. At the perfect time, I heard an interview with the comedian Adam Carolla (https://adamcarolla.com/) Regarding furloughs and being out of work, he said, “You can do the time or the time can do you.” Meaning, use the time in a positive manner.
I decided to “do the time.”
I got up at my normal OR nurse time (3:45…yes…3:45 AM) and wrote. An advertisement from Joseph Michael (the guy who had the Learn Scrivener course) caught my attention: Unchained Writer (https://scrivenercoach.kartra.com/portal/qfm1n89A7hrK/index). It is an online writer’s group that met daily, got your butt-in-chair, and made you write. I had to meet people daily and be accountable. If getting furloughed was the ignition switch, this group was the gas pedal. I got in the grove and wrote the final draft of the first book.
And it happened. No. No projectiles taking my vision here either. I got fearful. I knew I had to get the book edited. Not just edited by me or an acquaintance or beta-reader, but by a “I do this for a living, so I’m a pro, pay me” editor. Not only was it expensive (Line Editing is $10 per page), but also what if the editor said, “This sucks. Don’t give up your day job.” I felt like I was sending my ten-year old child off to fat camp. I prayed. I fasted. I balked. I hemmed. I hawed.
The cost of editing would over 4 grand. But as I jogged in place at this milestone marker, a holiday promotion from BookBaby for editing arrived in my inbox: twenty-five percent off. Add in the fact, I was “un-furloughed” and had money coming in again, I sent my child off to lose weight.
When the manuscript came back, I had work to do…good work. Unchained Writer members became my cheerleaders and I revised the manuscript. There was always a positive, you can-do-it vibe. Not to mention the “Cup of Joe” lessons on Saturday mornings. If you are not in a group, find one.
So now? I pulled the trigger on self-publication. My manuscript is at BookBaby being processed.
Hope I don’t shoot my eye out…