Thursday, July 17, 2014

Will You Love Me Tomorrow

I will try to maintain this blog as long as there’s a thought in my head, but I have to be honest—writing is no longer the great creative outlet it once was for me.  I recently finished my novel, the one I had been writing in fits and starts for four months. I have completed the first round of edits for Chances, but I can’t say that it turned out completely as I had planned.  I have several ideas for a new novel, ideas that have been marinating for more than half a year, but I wonder if I start to write it, will it be as good as it seems in my mind’s eye?  I thought all of my books were good ideas before I wrote them down, and I've enjoyed reading and rereading each of them, though after enough of that everything starts to run together, and it’s no small miracle that I ever removed typos from any of them.  I hope that I will keep writing for as long as I am able, but I figure there’s little-to-no profound knowledge to be gained from reading this blog unless I treat it as either a journal or a travelogue and review the posts on my own in order to glean something.  The good news is that writing has been my income the past two years—it was never exactly either a substantial income or a living wage, but it was far more money than I had earned in the previous year of unemployment.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Taking Stock

It has been approximately two years since I published my first novel.  I’m too lazy to look for specific dates, but it was June 2012 when I was reading Windswept on my Kindle while I edited the rough draft of Kentucky Summer, which was published a month later.  In the following two years, I have published eight novels under my own name, another under a pen name, and two novellas under an additional pseudonym.  I also submitted Heart Trouble and had it published via Crimson Romance, which gave me the opportunity to have one of my works available through more than one sales channel; the paperback edition has also been added to the collection of at least one public library.  I am currently working on another novel that is taking much longer than my standard pace; at nearly three months and counting, I am still not sure when I will put this one to bed.  I have ideas for at least one further novel, but aside from that I am nearly tapped out in the ideas department.  So what have I learned from these many, many hours of hard work, multiple rejections, and many sleepless nights where the ideas wouldn’t be silenced?

1. Writing is never easy.  Even when it’s easy, it’s still not easy.  You’re always digging, searching, and forcing yourself to make everything the best it can be.  In the course of typing, you will put words where they shouldn’t be and in the process of editing will have to try to figure out what your intended message was.

2. Writing is not a quick trip to fame and fortune.  It has been my only income for the past two years, through no fault of my own—I’ve been in the job market for more than three years, and it has been almost as long since my last interview.  I have had decent months of income, but none of those occurred until I had published my sixth novel.  There have been other months where I made so little that I didn’t merit a payment at all.  My sales have really trickled down to nothing over the past several months, which doesn’t exactly provide a great incentive to continue with writing as a vocation.  If I ever built up a nest egg I would love to pay for professional covers if not professional editing for my novels.  Heart Trouble undoubtedly has my best cover.  If worse came to worse, I wouldn’t mind learning how to create my own covers via some type of graphics program. 


3. Writing does not necessarily lead to instant popularity.  Not everyone will care about your writing.  Some people will care about it only so long as it doesn’t cost them anything.  Ultimately you have to work to make sure your completed novel is something you enjoy, a piece of product that is the best it can be—and if not, spell check and edit the darn thing, massage it and streamline it until you can love it.  As conceited as this might sound, if you don’t love your own work, there’s very little point in putting it out into the world. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Crossroads

I have reached a crossroads in my writing career—if you can call it a career.  For the second time in as many months, I have reached a crossroads in my writing career—if you can call it a career.  For the second time in as many months, I have put aside my story, unable to continue.  In the past I have been able to harness my disappointments, and depression, and boredom into serious creativity, but lately I just can’t seem to get myself into the zone.  Too many things have been weighing on my mind, including a situation in which I am an innocent bystander, being lied to each and every time I try to rectify someone else’s oversights.  It is no fun when people play fast-and-loose with your life.  I mean, there are scenarios in life when we do things—all of us—with few thoughts to the consequences.  However, I really needed this opportunity, this chance, and as the months pass I know it is growing father and father in the distance.  When you need one piece of the puzzle to fall into place and it won’t, it’s pretty darn frustrating.

But back to my writing.  I sent out books to three different entities recently, in this hopes that I would be reviewed favorably and possibly even sold in an important store.  Still waiting for feedback, be it good or bad, on all of them.  At least there’s something to hope for.  I hope. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Rewind

I would never presume to tell an author the right or wrong way to craft their work; I believe that whatever method works for you is the right one.  I tend to write in a linear fashion, from point A to point B without reviewing what I’ve written previously.  Indeed, sometimes I only find out what I left on the page when I go back and perform the first edit upon completing a novel.  There have been exceptions to this rule; sometimes I will write about six chapters and do a read-through just to refresh myself on what I’ve written, because the early chapters in any story provide the building blocks for your characters; their first meeting, or the inciting incident that brings them together, or any other source of conflict you can imagine. 

I found myself in an unfamiliar place on my latest project.  I completed 23,000 words in a quick amount of time, and then found myself stuck.  I closed the document, put the book aside, and began to write a novella that appeared unexpectedly in my head.  I completed the novella, edited and published it, and brainstormed how I was going to get back into the swing of things.  I knocked around a few ideas and considered some possibilities.  Honestly, I am still considering some of them as I write the book!  But I decided the best solution for this novel was to go back to the very beginning, reread the entire thing, do some revisions as I went, and then see where I found myself.


I deliberated and finally decided to introduce a new character in order to give the story some additional balance.  I changed a few things and added other new elements, which may or may not improve the overall story.  Time will tell.  The good news is that via this experience I was able to continue my writing in earnest, surpassing 45,000 words.  I’m not sure that I will ever work up to full-novel length again.  I did two novels in the 100,000 word range, but I tend to be the most comfortable between 70 and 75,000 words.  Those also seem to be the easiest to edit.   


Monday, March 31, 2014

The Best Laid Plans

2014 was supposed to be my year, wasn’t it?  I had so many plans for myself.  Now March is drawing to a close and most days I feel worse about myself than ever before.  In some ways I blame the weather.  Every time I craft plans for myself, things I want to accomplish, it seems that it snows or rains again.  How nice would it be to string together three nice days in a row?  Money also continues to be a worry; I was overdrawn at the bank this month for the first time in over five years.  My lack of income was always a concern but somehow I managed to keep a positive balance despite having no steady job after December 2010.  I’m sure things are going to be dodgy money-wise at least through my birthday, which is no longer the financial windfall it was once upon a time.  The older you get, the less people care about you.  That’s the honest truth.  I literally cannot afford to buy Heart Trouble even though it is now available in paperback.  I do hope that things can eventually turn around, that at some point I can recapture my previous sales success in publishing.  I am trying to finish two different books, and I have another idea in the queue.  I just don’t have much confidence in my writing anymore, which matches the fact that I’ve never had any confidence in myself.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Paperback Writer

At long last, Heart Trouble is available to order in paperback form.  To be honest, I cannot afford to buy a copy of my own novel, which should tell you something about the ups and downs of being a writer.  Heart Trouble was not one of my longer novels, and it is a quick read.  But it also marks the point where I changed my writing style and tried to branch out into some different territory.  I’m not sure when it will be available but it is up for ordering, and that is the important fact given my long wait time.  Then again, publishing tends to move at the speed of a glacier, and the only way to have a book available immediately is to print it yourself.


http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Trouble-Tommie-Conrad/dp/1440571457/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1395666617&sr=8-1&keywords=heart+trouble+tommie

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Adaptation

My last novel was written in twenty-one days, which may or may not be a statistic worth repeating.  With the current one, however—I am 23,000 words into it—I find myself being a lazy writer, not having added any text for the past three days.  I think my lack of initiative may be the result of several different factors:  indifference to my last two books, lack of attachment to my current characters, or perhaps a loss of my writing inspiration.  I can clearly see my hero and heroine, the progression of their relationship and its ultimate endgame, but I don’t think I’ve been happy enough lately to give anyone else’s story its proper conclusion.  I have grown increasingly disenchanted not with writing but with lip service. I have eagerly been anticipating the paperback of my published novel for months now, as I have plans in my mind to promote it to a magazine with a large readership and wide coverage.  As the months pass, it seems increasingly pointless: if the book is ever printed, I will ship it for review, but it becomes a question of timeliness; will anyone care if the book is a year old by that point?  Have I missed my chance to make a big push and have people by the book?  I know all authors—all people, really—must multitask, and I can do it as well (or as poorly) as anyone.  But it’s very difficult to accomplish your goals when you have so much on your mind.