Welcome! This is my first post, and so I thought I’d share how it all got started.
For years, I have written a letter and sent it out to friends and family. Many people do this and stuff it inside a Christmas card. Mine started out around the holidays, but as time went on, my letter began to travel with the calendar. First it was in February as a birthday card that I sent to everyone instead of a Christmas card. Then it got pushed back to Spring Break, then when school was out for Summer Vacation, and finally, the past few years, it has been around the Summer Solstice before I compiled a tale of my twelve-month activities to share with everyone. The past two years I’ve also included a CD of music, and for 2009, a business card and a post card advertising the two books I have in print. I received feedback on what I’d written about that was usually along the lines of “I live vicariously through you!”, or “You’re so busy. How do you do it all?” I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never took the time to put anything worthwhile on paper. That changed about five years ago.
Statistics say that 81% of Americans feel that they have a book inside of them. Aristotle thought that everyone should write a book. One day, during summer vacation, I sat at my computer and wrote the Prologue and first three chapters for Of Gifts and the Goddess. I didn’t know the title at the time, all of the characters, or even what would happen, let alone how it would end. I printed it out, and there is sat for another four years. Surviving a major upheaval in my personal life and looking for direction, I began taking every class offered at the community college about how to be a writer and how to get published. I learned a lot, as my world had been relegated to education. In the fall, I signed up for a creative writing class, figuring I was doing something constructive rather than hanging out at the bars. As part of one of the assignments, I rewrote the Prologue and first three chapters, then added another five chapters. There was positive feedback from my classmates, and I was encouraged to complete the story. However, those pages, too, found themselves on the shelf.
I moved into my condo, unpacked everything in three days, and began a routine that would take me through another seventy-two days off from school. I would write late at night, oftentimes staying up past midnight as the words flowed so easily and smoothly onto the paper, and the next morning, after riding my horse, I’d sit at the computer and type what I had written. In three weeks I had completed my first manuscript. Several of my friends volunteered to read what I’d put on paper and promised to give honest feedback. Besides the numerous typos and a little confusion over names and the timeline, they all liked it and thought it was worth sharing.
Instead of attempting to be picked up by one of the Big 8 in New York, I opted for what I thought was “self-publishing”, but was really a vanity press. All the things I’d read didn’t register in my brain until it was too late. The very short version is that I ordered the books in October, after months of waiting for the publisher to do what I’d paid her to do, and they weren’t delivered until February. Being the person I am, I assume that everyone else operates with the same integrity that I possess. Not so. But a lesson learned, and that curve continued through the printing of my second book which was delivered at the beginning of July. This one, is as close to self-published as I think I’ll get, meaning I have mastered outsourcing: a friend types for me, a company in Florida formats my manuscripts, I’m working with a phenomenal graphic artist for my covers, and a printer rep has hooked me up with a decent printer in Michigan. I still have a few friends who help edit my work and another who offers free storage for the pallets of books. I finished my first manuscript in June 2008, and started the second one in July 2008. That was completed in November 2008, and a week later I began number three, which was completed in March. I thought to begin another story, but was urged to write the sequel to number three. So, number 4 was begun in June 2009 (having to take time for the massive amount of research to be done for number 2), and I think I’m about half way done, but I don’t know for sure. In between, and during, the writing of the next manuscript, there is editing, and more editing, and getting things ready for the printers for the recently completed manuscript.
So, that’s the nuts and bolts of how I came to be a published author. When people ask how I get my ideas for what I write about and how I organize my stories, I’m a little unsure how to answer. I don’t plan them out ahead of time. Nor do I use sticky notes or note cards, write in a journal my observations of people and places. I do the research after the story is out, and I have yet to rearrange any parts of the plot, as the stories come out in chronological order. I have about twenty stories (some will be novels) started. On the movie screen in my head, I see the characters, the action, and hear the dialog, all in full color. I prefer to write instead of type as that is how the story needs to come out. Sometimes, things happen so fast in the story that I have trouble getting it all down on paper. I never know everything that will happen, who all the characters will be, or how it will end. I get snapshots sometimes, and so the logical part of my brain thinks, “Okay, if Joe has to be here for this to happen, how will he get there?” I think it should take a paragraph, but most times it takes pages. Writing with this stream of consciousness, most times I’m not sure what I’m writing as I never go back to reread it, except the last paragraph or sentence when I begin again the next day. This makes for interesting reading for me when my friend sends me the typed words! Sometimes I think, “Wow. That’s pretty cool,” when I see how the whole thing fits together.
I mostly write at my kitchen table, though I tend to use any spare moments I can. It isn’t unusual for me to write in my truck when I’m early for an appointment, on my mat in the studio before a yoga class, at Starbuck’s, in the airport, or at the barn when the weather is decent. Sometimes I listen to new age music as it helps to drown out the other thoughts in my mind. I’ve found I pen I prefer, a refillable, heavy, ball point, and college ruled spirals keep my big, exaggerated script somewhat contained. There are times that I procrastinate sitting down to write, and end up with a clean house. Then there are times that I put off doing other things because the words become demanding. I try to write every day, but if I don’t, I put away the guilt.
I plan to share my writing and publishing experiences through these posts, and thought it fitting that I begin at the beginning, and move forward from there. If you have a moment, see my web site at www.myjoyenterprises.com I’m also on Twitter and Facebook! More on that later. . .