Sunday, September 28, 2014

My own Fool's Journey (writing edition).

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been talking about various aspects of my new book, Seasons of the Fool. And in an aside a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that at one point, I embarked on my own Fool's Journey via a series of meditations with the Major Arcana of the Tarot, and that's what convinced me to start writing seriously.

I remembered that comment earlier this week, when my IU pal Laurie Boris talked about her own journey as a writer on her blog. Her post was sparked by a couple of questions Kim Emerson posted in the MasterKoda group on Facebook: Where were you as a writer ten years ago? How about five years ago?

Those questions had made me think, as well. (They made me do math, too -- darn it, Kim!) And I realized how far I've come in the past ten years. So let's set the Wayback Machine to 2004, Sherman....

Ten years ago, I was a single mom with two kids in high school. I had the same day job I have right now -- legal secretary at a big law firm in Washington, DC -- and way more education than anyone should ever need: a journalism degree, a creative writing degree, and a paralegal certificate. And I wasn't using any of it. I'd bailed on broadcast journalism five or six years before. The business had changed a lot since I'd started in it, to the point where there was less of an emphasis on news that mattered and more on news that would boost the ratings. And neither the crazy work hours nor the every-two-years-like-clockwork layoffs were conducive to raising kids.

I wasn't writing any fiction in 2004, either. Right after grad school, I'd tried marketing some of my short stories to various magazines and literary journals, but I didn't get any takers. In hindsight, I can see that the business was in transition (and still is, come to that); mass-market magazines had pretty much stopped publishing fiction, many smaller journals were succumbing to financial pressures, and e-zines weren't a thing yet. It had gotten to the point where your best option for getting published was to show up at writing seminars and schmooze with editors and agents, so they'd recognize your name when you sent them your work. And I had neither the budget nor the time for that sort of thing (see "single mom," above).

But by 2009, things were very different. I'd had two short stories published by Calderwood Press and was putting the finishing touches on The Maidens' War, which Calderwood published later that year. What had happened in the interim?

For one thing, my kids were both away at college, which freed up a lot of my time. For another, we published the Kevinswatch anthologies in 2006-07; for the first time in years, I was writing fiction again -- and I was writing fantasy, instead of trying to shoehorn my style into realistic fiction. I met Joy Calderwood at the Watch. E-publishing was becoming a thing. And I did my first NaNoWriMo in 2008.

I was beginning to think maybe I ought to do more writing. But it wasn't until I did the Fool's Journey exercise that I committed to it. You see, I'd always been under the impression that you couldn't make a living as a fiction writer. I kept thinking I needed something else to pay the bills. And too, I wanted to "pay it forward" -- to provide some way to help others write, too. So I thought maybe I'd start a writer's retreat B&B, or some kind of office-space-with-daycare facility, or something.

But when I posed the question to the Universe, the answer that came back was that I was supposed to be writing. The Universe wanted me to be a writer. All this other stuff was just a distraction.

So I began to concentrate on writing. Now I've got ten novels published, and another one in the slot. And as for paying it forward, I'm doing that by writing for Indies Unlimited. Funny how things work out, isn't it?

Where do I see myself five years from now, in 2019? If the Universe is kind to me, I'll be making a living from my books; I'll have another 15 novels published then, at my current pace. And in any event, I'll be eligible for early retirement at the end of that year. So one way or another, I'll be on the verge of writing full-time. No fooling.

Where were you ten years ago? And where do you see yourself in five years?

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This week, I'll be putting the finishing touches on a Land, Sea, Sky omnibus. And come to think of it, it's probably time for another newsletter. Stay tuned....

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These moments of bloggy reflection have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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