We all have a story to tell. No, I’m not talking about the fiction stories that we write and wish to publish. I’m talking about our stories. The stories of our lives. About how we got here and where we’re going. Well, today, I’m going to tell you my story. And then it’ll be your turn.
As a kid, I read a lot of books. My bedroom also being the household library might have had something to do with it. That and being grounded a lot. Looking back, why my Christian parents had the book, Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask, in their library, I have no idea. They probably didn’t even know it was there. But I sure did!
I remember reading Little House, Narnia, C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy, a book about kids who shrunk, and a whole lot of Choose Your Own Adventure books. I chose every adventure! Like I said, I was grounded to the library quite often.
(As I read I dreamed of being a movie director. I never understood why they made movies different from the books. Why not present it word for word. I know better now. But even then, books were movies to me and movies were always my preference.)
When I couldn’t read books (usually during class) I wrote stories. I’ve already told you about Dr. Eng and Mr. Lish, so I won’t recount here. But stories were always trying to get out.
The Dark Years
When I reached high school, I put my reading and writing aside. I don’t know that I read a single thing for fun during those four years. And the only writing I did was graded. I hated it. Both reading and writing! I remember getting to college thinking “I’m going to see if I can get through college without writing anything.” Yeah, I actually said that out loud. A friend set me straight real quick. So did my professors.
The Spark that (Re) Ignited it All
At the risk of dating myself, the movie Jurassic Park released while I was in college. I love that movie through and through. When a dormmate had a copy of the book, he dared me to read it. And read it, I did. I devoured it. I’m pretty sure there may have been a Crichton novel or two back in my libedery (read: library/bedroom) back home, but I don’t know that I enjoyed them as much as I did JP. That book single-handedly reignited my love for reading.
At the same time, I was rediscovering my talent (TBD) for writing. Professors kept giving me high marks on my papers. Considering how much I hated writing, this was difficult for me to understand. (I’m resisting telling one of my college term paper stories here. That’ll have to wait for another day.) But one particular note on a creative writing paper resonated. The professor wrote, “You have talent, keep writing.”
That stuck with me. Mostly because I was still fresh off my I don’t want to write anything comment. These two juxtapositions didn’t sit well with me. Was it even possible that I could have a talent (TBD) for writing even though I don’t enjoy it?
Two years later, after I money’d-out of college, I put my writing skills (TBD) to use as a youth pastor in Seattle. (No joke!) I prepared sermons and preached to inner-city kids. Those were interesting times. I used to record my sermons and kept all my notes and recordings for years. Then I left them all in the attic of my house after I moved. Stupid-stupid! In fact, I left behind all of my college papers and my creative writings to date. Including Eng and Lish.
I often wonder if they are still in that attic collecting dust. I somehow doubt it.
Over the years I started many stories. Most I didn’t finish, but I did complete one of them. But that was three years ago. What have I done with my writing abilities (TBD) lately?
The Long Kiss Oh, It’s You
I finished the first draft of my first full-length novel over three years ago. And while I spent the next few years editing it, I have yet to write its follow up. In a sense, I’m stuck. Unmotivated. Easily distracted. Chasing squirrels.
I’ve been busy doing (mostly) important things, but mostly just avoiding writing. What have I accomplished since completing my novel?
- Went through several draft revisions
- Perfected it
- Pitched and rejected by over 70 agents
- Underwent a major edit (Passive voice bad. Active verbs good.)
- Perfected it again (TBD)
- Pitched more agents (180 total, with over 160 rejections so far)
- Completed my second digital marketing book (still editing)
- Updated my website
- Started blogging
- Prepared to start a podcast
- Wrote, and am perfecting (TBD), a short story
So it’s not like I haven’t done anything in the past three years. But I haven’t done the one thing that I really do and don’t want to do. Write my second novel. Eventually, I’ll run out of things to procrastinate with.
To Be Published
The question I’m not asked most is, when will you publish your story? I’m in no hurry. I have almost completed my collection of agent rejections, at which point I either go direct to an independent publisher or self-publish. I’m more likely to do that later. But here’s the thing. With publishing comes a lot of work on the marketing side. And I’m not quite ready to self-publish and market my current book while writing the next one.
With my author podcast and this blog ramping up, I have even less time to market and write. So (at least for now), I’ve decided that if I self-publish, I’ll wait until the next book is written. Possibly both next books. Maybe not perfected, but at least have the story done.
In one sense, I’m worried that the delay between release dates of all three books will be too great. I would like to release them within one or two years of each other, but I’m not confident I can write and perfect the next two stories while also podcasting, building my audience, and marketing. Not while I have a full-time job.
That’s not to say it can’t be done. I know it can. And that’s the thing about having an agent and traditional publishing. I’m always more motivated on someone else’s clock. I perform best under the gun, but when self-publishing, I am the gun. And, frankly, I’m just a squirt gun. I don’t scare me.
Building my Audience
So if you want to read my story sooner rather than later, pray I get an agent. Otherwise, the world will have to wait. But for now, building my audience is goal #1. Whether I’m self-published or traditionally, I need an audience.
Which comes to the big ask. If you like this post (and the others as well) subscribe below. Share this on social media. Help me get the word out. The more I grow my audience, the sooner my novel will be published.
Go on, subscribe.
And then come back here and tell me your story.