by Ron Vitale
Imagine if you could spend more time with your family, get more sleep and find the time to get caught up on all those episodes of the latest TV shows you’ve been missing. It’s simple. All you have to do is to stop writing. You could learn more about social media, take a class, exercise more, lose weight, or spend even more quality time with your partner. What do you have to do? Just stop writing. Trust me, you’ll feel better in the long run. No more dealing with rejection, doubt or needing to defend to family members what you’re really doing early in the morning or late at night. Why not take up a more productive hobby? It’s simple. Truly. Just walk away. No one will blame you or look down on you. In fact, you’ll not even be missed.
Listening to Your Inner Demon
Are you familiar with the urge to quit writing? At some point in a writer’s career, there will be a moment (okay, many moments) of self-doubt and how you prepare for that challenge will dictate whether you continue writing or not. When I was 19 years of age, I dreamed of being a novelist. My English professor in English 101 asked me what I wanted to do and when I told her my dream of being a novelist she came back with: You might wish to have a fall back career that makes money. Her words stuck with me and over the years I finished my schooling and had a moment of panic: Months before completing my Masters thesis, I realized that the student loans would be due soon and I had no solid income beyond my part-time job in retail. I recall asking my adviser for help and was given no solid leads. After years of studying, I had spent more money than I could afford on obtaining a Masters of Arts in English Literature. I had turned away from obtaining a Doctorate and my dream of becoming a teacher because of the lack of opportunity there. Instead of hunkering down and continuing to write, I packed dreams away and got a job in medical publishing sizing art for monthly medical journals and copy editing the articles. Back in the mid-90s there was no explosive growth of eBooks in the publishing industry and I tired of all the rejections from publishers and agents. The only bite I received after years of trying was from a shady agent who wanted to pass on fees to me and then she would “represent” me. I wasted more postage just to receive rejections back than I care to remember. But what did I do? I gave up. Instead of writing more novels, I put all my hopes and dreams into one book and tried to break into the short story market (failing mostly). The few stories I had published earned me no money and I doubted my ability. I gave up.
Dreams Won’t Die
But a funny thing happened: I’d go through cycles of wanting to write. I’d wait for the muse to speak to me. I’d listen to her, and when she spoke, the muse was so wonderful and filled with light. Now that I am older, I realize what a bunch of crap that all was because I wasn’t disciplined and did not spend time on my craft. I attended a few workshops, tried online critique groups, wrote more stories and even wrote a first draft to a sequel to my first book, but I never could find a way to get a break in the world of publishing. In the early 2000s, I started writing “how to” technology articles for SFWA’s The Bulletin and also scored some freelance work for several gaming magazines and websites. Still, the money that I made during that time did not add up to even a minimum wage job because the work was so infrequent. And so I gave up again. Time passed, I worked hard, had children and still my dreams of becoming a novelist did not come to be. I could not find a way to convince anyone to help me with my dream of becoming a novelist so I floundered, resigning myself to trying but failing. And again, instead of writing more, I gave up. I listened to that inner voice, but I did spend my energies on learning podcasting, blogging and eventually social media platforms. A new way began to present itself to me and against all odds, I took my short story collection “The Jovian Gate Chronicles” and turned them into an audiobook using Podiobooks.com as a platform. My amateurish attempt might now have garnered much notice, but I learned a very valuable lesson: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Embrace Change and Learn, Learn, Learn
With the explosion of podcasts, audiobooks and then eBooks, I started my own gaming podcast, turned my first novel, Dorothea’s Song, into an audiobook and self-published it into an eBook and began writing another novel in 2010. My second novel was Cinderella’s Secret Diary, and at the time I write this, is #61 in the Gothic genre on Amazon.com. Instead of giving up, I chose to learn as much as I could about the new tools available for writers. I embraced them, joined them and began using them to network with writers and professionals in the publishing world. I realized that my dream of becoming a novelist would only become reality if I made that goal a priority in my life and if I worked hard on it. None of the Big Six would ever come knocking on my door if I waited for a miracle to happen. In reading about John Locke and Amanda Hocking, I decided to try my hand at self-publishing. And, if I failed, I would have learned a lot about publishing and my books would at least see the light of day. Have I had commercial success? I will be honest, no, I have not. But the tide is turning (ever so slowly): On a recent 5 day KDP select Amazon promotion, Cinderella’s Secret Diary was downloaded more than 4,600 times and made it to #122 in the free books section during that time. That’s a good many downloads in 5 days. The good news is that my sales are up after the promotion and the book continues to sell. My goal right now is to finish my Cinderella trilogy and keep on writing other books in the future.
Never Give Up
There are many voices in a writer’s mind. Some good, some bad. Thankfully, we can use those voices and create characters out of them and embrace the darkness to have some fun with our writing. Each writer will need to figure out a goal: To be rich writing? To be published? To share one’s experience with others? What is your goal? Once that is defined, then the rest is simple: Never give up. If you’re not able to write every day, then start writing several times a week. Make your writing a priority. All of these things are well-known, but I write with experience in that I wasted years by not writing often. I now know how to become inspired (go on long runs or walks with no music), have continued to write before work several times a week and have begun to build my platform and brand. Is it easy? No, it is not. But when I look at myself in the mirror, I am happy to know that I continue to try. Some of the pieces I have written have touched readers from across the globe. If I had stopped writing and listened to those inner demons, my dreams would have died. I am glad that I changed my mind and decided to write again. Again, it’s not easy, but I’ve had such great enjoyment sharing my work with others. But enough of me, what about you? What will you decide to do?
Be sure to follow me @ronvitale and let me know. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past several years, it’s that the road to publication isn’t a solitary one. And that’s why, I’m so glad to have found #amwriting.
Ron Vitale is the author of the dark fantasy novel Cinderella's Secret Diary who hopes that his daughter will grow up to find her own voice and not allow others to dictate who and what she can be.