I was twenty year old when I started writing with the idea that I would like to be a professional writer. And, uh, we all see how well that’s been working out for me. I mean, I always liked writing, as I mentioned in a previous post, and I had considered writing before. But I dunno, I guess I always figured I would still need to have a “real” job too. I have a “real” job now that I go to five days a week so I can pay the bills, because obviously I’m not making any money writing.
I was always very interested in medicine, criminology and forensics when I was growing up. It was once my plan to go into forensics either as a medical examiner or a psychiatrist. I still find those subjects very interesting and have many books and watch programs on tv about them all the time. You should see the looks you get from the cashiers at Barnes and Noble when you walk up with stacks of books about things like serial killers, human decomposition, cannibalism and autopsies on a regular basis. I’m surprised they havent called the FBI on me yet.
So anyways. Things happened and I ended up having to drop out of high school, and last I knew they didn’t just let you walk out of tenth grade and into Harvard Medical School so……yeah, that was the end of that plan.
After several years of being a mindless drone and forgetting I had any interests or personality I suddenly remembered, hey! I like writing! So I dug an old spiral bound notebook and a pen out of a drawer (I was too poor for one of them newfangled personal computers) and started writing.
(This is also about the time I developed a hopeless addiction to RSVP Fine Point Pens. I still keep them stashed all over my house, in my car, in my purse and I stockpile them in my desk. There is always one within arms reach no matter where I am in case I feel the need for one. I shudder when I think of how much money I’ve spent on those pens in the past twenty years. I probly could have bought a Mercedes by now if I put all that money in a jar instead of buying pens.)
Well it wasnt long before I had notebooks piling up in my apartment. I had no idea what to do with them. They were all rough scribbled drafts of short stories and pieces of book ideas. The short stories I edited into finals drafts and copied carefully onto loose leaf paper and kept in three-ring binders. Not that that made any difference. They still just sat around my apartment.
I had absolutely no idea how to get a story or book published, no clue about submission guidelines, or where to find them, query letters, agents, slush piles, unsolicited or solicited material, I was completely ignorant of the process. I didn’t know anybody who was in the writing industry who could help me and I had no access to a computer or the internet to look any of this information up, even if I knew what I was looking for.
So for years I just wrote and it sat on a shelf or in a drawer or under the bed or in a box. Then one day I found a book called The Idiots Guide to Getting Published and rather than giving me hope, it made me realize how nearly impossible it is to get published these days. That getting published was more about luck than talent. I was just about ready to set everything I wrote on fire and give up. But I didn’t (altho I’m sure there are plenty of people who have read my work and think I should) and all those old handwritten stories are now stuffed in an accordion file and crammed into the back of a drawer in my desk.
Now I write on a laptop or an iPad and print my stuff out and store it in a file cabinet like a real grown up. I figured out years ago how to use book and magazine publishers’ websites to find submissions guidelines and addresses and have been submitting my work, some short stories and a book, to different places over the past few years. I haven’t been successful yet but I’m still trying. I know a lot of it is the luck of the draw, to have the right editor or agent pull your submission out of the slush pile at the right time, but it also has a lot to do with talent, cuz if the right person does find your story and it sucks, they’ll just chuck it in the….actually no I take that back. There are a lot of really bad books out there *cough*teenparanormalromance*cough*.