Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bibliophilia, Please

At the invitation of Kayla Beck, I wrote a guest post for her blog Bibliophilia, Please.
The strangest part? A coworker had just done an interview a few days before for her own novel. Didn't even know she was a writer!

I was browsing this site to get a feel for the authors who post here, when a familiar face jumped out at me. A coworker from my day job is a fellow writer. As in my current I-was-just-there-yesterday day job! And neither of us knew the other had such a dark secret as writing!

(That person can out themselves in the comments if desired, but that's all the gossip you're getting from me.)

Small world, eh?

A similar juxtaposition of unlikely events happened several years ago with my sister. I was in graduate school to become a biology teacher. A third of the time I was drinking in knowledge like my kids will take down a Slurpee on a Saturday with their granddad. The other two thirds of the time, the bulk of my classes, my brain was a squirmy nine-year-old with ADHD. After a Slurpee. To compensate during these mandated wastes of time, I'd draw and write. I'm proud to say my doodling had matured since I was nine, and the beginnings of a novel emerged. I graduated and got a teaching job and the novel experienced a few years of neglect before I picked it up again. About that time, my sister and I both had kids who were old enough to love bedtime stories. Though hers was barely a toddler, my sister made a comment about always reading the author's name with every story.

I found that obsessive. Why the interest in the author's feelings? I found out a year or so later. It's because she was one. She had a nearly-complete YA sci-fi novel, and she was just as shocked to find I'd been writing sci-fi too. Lots of swapped manuscripts and a road trip together for a writing conference later, she's querying agents about a novel I find intimidatingly fantastic, and I'm published. Pretty good stats for a writing group.

I have to confess: I skipped three years in that happy little story, and I'm not going to out myself with any comments. But I will discuss one of the big solutions that kept those three years from being four or five or ~shudder~. That's networking with great people.

I married a sharp woman. When I've been humble enough to take it, she's given super feedback. One example is the shape of the sculpture in chapter two of Houses of Common. Her idea. Sometimes it's tough to be open about one's creativity with those closest to us, but I've found it healthy, and she's a spectacular editor.

My sister, Jessica Parsons, also helped me out of my “independent and invincible” mentality as neither of them are applicable to a successful author. Check out her site for news on her sci-fi/thriller/romance Time Walker:

As part of my mentality recalibration, Jessica introduced me to Eschler Editing. Phenomenal services, which are an absolute must for anyone wanting to self-publish. Their network lead me to other authors and eventually to being alerted that openings were available at a sci-fi and fantasy symposium. I sat on a panel with more established authors, taught some things, and learned a lot. It lead to my first book signing.

What I got right was being open with the right people. But what if I'd been more open about my writing sooner? That's scary, because for a time I wasn't comfortable with what I'd put on the page. But what if I'd talked to my sister a year or two earlier? What if I'd discovered my coworker was a fellow writer four years ago?

Finding a balance between being open with my creations and keeping them safe until ready to share is hard. I think more openness would have served me well.

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