Contemplation on Writing

I’ve always been a contemplator.  I would say a thinker, but it bring visions of me sitting naked on a stone, chin-to-fist, and nobody wants to see that.  Not to mention, I’m guessing that stone is pretty damn cold.  So I use the term contemplator, and I think it is more accurate anyway.  I like to take my time making decisions.  I like to read about things.  I like to research.  When I get an idea in my head, it may take me awhile to process my thoughts before making a decision, and taking action.  Contemplation is a process that takes time, if you do it right.

So I’ve been contemplating this whole writing thing.

I’ve been writing since 1993.  It was a sudden urge that came upon me and I decided to follow it.  I wrote in solitude for a few years, then I worked with local writing groups, then I moved on to online writing groups, and finally I’ve gone full circle back to the local groups.  I recognized fairly early that working with other writers helps me to keep motivated.  The hard part is finding the right writers.  I’ve been lucky to find some good writers to work with at different times over the years.

I tend to stick with novels, although I did go through a period where I tried my hand at short stories.  At one point I thought it would be a good idea to try to get my name out in the short story market first.  I sent out stories regularly with varied success.  I won 3rd place in a SciFi short story contest and honorable mention in another.  I have four stories in print from that period, and was a Writer’s of the Future quarter and semi-finalist several times.  I enjoyed writing the stories, but the novels kept calling to me.

I’ve written six novels with three more that are in progress.  I sent out my first couple of novels to various publishers and agents.  I had some good feedback—thought I had a couple of publishers interested at one point—but never found a place for them.  I never did have much luck finding an agent.

Probably my one regret is I had a well-known agent interested early on, but they wanted me to send my manuscript to a book doctor first.  At the time I didn’t want to put out the money.  Money flows to the author, right?  Isn’t that what all the experts on the publishing business touted.  It was early on in my writing career, when I had more time than money anyway, so I figured I would get better on my own.  In today’s publishing world, it’s much more common for authors to get their books edited before sending them to the publisher, but it wasn’t so common then.

My third book, The Order of the Wolf, was the capstone project for my BA in English.  I had a professor work on it with me for a year.  Afterward, I set it aside and worked on other things until I finally decided to try my hand at self publishing.  It was the first novel I self published in 2012, followed by its sequel in 2014 – Stenson Blues.

The decision to self publish was not a hard one for me.  I have no visions of being a rich and famous writer.  I just felt that the effort of trying to break into the traditional writing industry took too much time away from actually writing.

So lately I’ve been contemplating my next step.  I enjoy writing and plan to continue to publish my novels, but I would like to do more.  For several years, I’ve been thinking about getting into publishing.  I would like to put out an anthology and maybe help other writers get their stories out there.  To better prepare for this, I’ve decided to learn more about the editing side of the business and will begin an editing certificate program next month.  I know it’s a shocker that I would contemplate this for a few years before making a decision and moving forward.  My wife says that I over think everything.  I’m still contemplating whether she’s right or not.

I do find it ironic that I am looking to get into the business that so horrified me early on.  I was adamant at the time that I would not use a book doctor and now I’m thinking about getting into the freelance editing business.  I guess we do change over time, and so has the publishing industry.  From my perspective, much of the change is for the better.