A couple weeks ago, I kinda hit rock bottom as a writer. Having just had three new stories release, I should have been on top of the world. But I had no time to write, and a number of things I thought would go really well in my writing plan had fizzled.
I had dreams when I got back into writing. Big dreams. Each story/novella/novel I released would be bigger than the last. People would read my stories and be amazed, touched, moved to tears. And I would start to make a living at this whole writing thing, at least a modest one.
But so far it’s been less than epic.
Sure, I’ve had some successes. In the last year alone, I’ve released my first two stand-alone novellas in ebook form, my first stand-alone story in print form, and my first audio book, which was originally featured on Vance Bastian’s fantastic Campfire podcast. I was part of a great marriage equality anthology that landed my writing in the Huffington Post and our book in USA Today’s romance section for a cover reveal. And Queer Sci Fi continues to thrill and amaze me.
But none of this has translated into particularly robust sales for my books.
I’ve also only sold short stories and novellas, and the biggest criticism I get is that my stories should be longer.
I could cry about it (and I have). I could gather up my marbles and go home (I’ve considered it). Or I could suck it up and realize this is what life is like for the majority of the world’s published authors.
I have some raw, innate talent as a writer – it’s why I am able to sell my stories. But being a “real” writer means never resting on your laurels. You write because you have to, because you have stories to tell, but you also need to continually learn and upgrade your craft. My stories are so much better than they were a decade or two ago, because I have gained more life experience, and because I have practiced writing all kinds of stories. But there are still things I need to work on.
So I have a plan. I will write longer. I have two novels in process – my first in more than twenty years. I am starting to learn more about building strong, memorable characters, and that can only help my writing style.
And I am adjusting my expectations. Maybe I will never be a Steven King or Piers Anthony or even a TJ Klune. But I will strive every day to do better, and to connect with more readers.
After that? Only time will tell.