Saturday, July 2, 2022

About writing, publishing, and positivity

I was reading a fellow author's (and long time friend's) recent blog post about the process of producing a book. You can find it here.

Ruth writes in the romance genre and has done well for herself, but she writes her fingers off to make that happen, as you can see in her post. I've always been impressed with the speed she turns out books. I've been lucky to manage two to three books a year of about the same length she writes, that's 1/3 her speed. And I don't even have 1/3 the books published that she has out. 

Her post inspired some thinking on the topic. Like Ruth, I do all my own writing. Is it good? That's up to you, the readers. I don't expect to please everyone. I don't hire ghostwriters or use AI. It is all on me, and, like Ruth and any human writer, I have good days and bad days. I've had days where I've been lucky to eek out a couple hundred words, or any, and days where I almost couldn't stop writing.

I'm not a machine. I am a living being. I am a wife, mother, homeowner, horse owner, cat slave, and employee for someone else. I love my part-time non-writing job and don't get to see my horse nearly as much as I would like. I also have one kid heading to college in the fall and another still in high school who needs mom or dad to get her to/from work since she doesn't have her drivers license yet. We have a house and yard to maintain. I also make time for my faith, which has only grown deeper as I get older. It all cuts out chunks from my days.

On top of all that, I also have autoimmunity that can sap my concentration and energy away, which is also why I don't get to see my horse as often as I like--the energy seems to get sapped on the otherwise best days or I have something else that has to get done. Writing is heavily intellectual. Anything that depletes cognition takes its toll on writing; the autoimmunity is particularly effective at that. I've had to learn to be my own doctor for things, although I have excellent independent physicians who have helped me get past the worst issues.

Given all that, I am proud of what I have achieved. I work hard in all my endeavors, and all of them complement one another. It is a symbiosis that I've learned to manage as best as I can. It's not rainbows and unicorns--life isn't meant to be easy--but I believe that we are defined by how we overcome our struggles to fulfill our purpose and achieve our dreams. God allows struggle to teach us how to better ourselves. When we can overcome without succumbing to the self-annihilating forces of jealousy, blame, or violence but can do something constructive, our limits are only what we place on ourselves.

As you can see, through all that I have going on, I continue forward. Thank God I don't have to depend on my writing income to get by. I tend to spend more on the business of publishing than I make, but that's because I support the publishing with outside income. Because of that, I also take on a lot of the roles myself, from author to cover artist, although I mostly try to find finished images to promote on the latest series (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds). I've taught myself some Photoshop skills for cover work and for my day job, but I can only work with photos/existing images. (I consider the cover of UNBROKEN BONDS to be my best work to date.)

I have hired excellent cover artists in the past. (See the Paul Davies works on the Legend of the White Dragon series and Demon Age books.) Working with artists on custom covers is another process in itself, giving the artist something to start them and then going back and forth with sketches until you get something that satisfies both parties. And as Ruth points out, you work on their schedule. It can be very frustrating but very rewarding in the end.

I also format my own books and manage the marketing, more time taken from writing. I'd love to have someone to help, but I can't really afford that either. So, I take on these roles also and do the best I can at any given time. I try to do these tasks when my ability to concentrate on writing is low anyway, so the effect is minimal.

This is how I keep going and how I keep writing. I have a lot to manage in my life (doesn't everyone?), but there are people who are worse off and yet are able to do much more. I admire that courage and dedication and could only hope to match it, but we can never fill someone else's shoes. We can only work hard to reach our own unique potential and accomplish whatever we set out to do. This is why I love the quote below. It reminds me that small things add up to big things. Another version is that "a book is written one word at a time."

Many people may not realize just how much work that involves--it only starts with the writing. A book may be consumed fast, but creating and publishing it is a time-intensive process amid many other distractions and duties, and that is the point that Ruth makes in her post. Plotting, writing, rewriting (many times), editing, formatting (ebook and/or paperback), cover design, copyright registration, setting up at retailers (with all the details that have to be entered, not just a simple upload), marketing, etc. all take time and effort to complete.

I may not be as prolific as some authors, but I do nearly all of the work myself.

Unless fortunes improve, I will continue as I have with the writing and publishing and hope that I can bring some escape and positivity into your life.

ps--Book 15 is now at 11,500 words.

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