I am often asked how someone can get their book published. Or I get asked, “What advice would you give someone writing a book?”
Most people don’t want the real answer: finish the book you’re writing first.
Just finishing the book (whether fiction or non-fiction) is usually the most challenging for anyone. See, it seems simple to sit down and write a book. If you just leave the bull your mind will try to feed you at the door, yes, it is that simple. However, most people can’t do that; the myths that an artist must suffer for their art is just too alluring, especially to those who like the idea of writing but don’t actually want to write. So, I always tell the inquirer to write the book first.
Surprisingly (not!), no one has every come back to me and said, “Okay, I wrote the book, now what?”
For a long time I wished that I’d had something I could tell people to go read and it would help them answer a lot of questions on their journey, including step 1: writing the book.
I picked up this set because I really wanted to listen to Market Like a Boss, but the price on the audio for all three was irresistible.
I did listen to most of it at double speed. I found the narrator painfully slow at regular speed and 1.5 speed was about what I considered normal reading speech. At double speed, I felt like he was really at 1.5 speed.
Since I’ve been writing nearly all my life and have published 25 titles, I wasn’t certain there would be much information there for me. I was surprised that I did find a few nuggets of good information — you can always learn something. Besides, it was a good pep talk for me too.
I want to personally apologize if anyone heard my near continuous, mental screams of anguish this weekend.
It has been very difficult.
I finished the plot outline for Tangled Magic and Walk the Path, which meant it was time to sharpen the focus. That’s kind of hard to do when you don’t even have focus. On Saturday, I obsessed over the dang thing so much that I nearly didn’t get my words done for the day. I did, but I totally had to shove the story out of my head and not let in any distraction. I did write about Cirvel, but he took me on a wild ride and showed me a piece of his world from before the time of Tangled Magic and so I was on a thrilling adventure. If Cirvel had turned to me, as character often do, and asked if I now really, really, really wanted Rivic to win, I probably would have sank to my knees, giggled, and said, “No, Cirvel, you are forever the Lord of Gohaldinest. Only a monster would want that wimpy kid to beat you.” **giggle**
I’ve made October an interesting month so far. Now not only do I have the “get the words done” goal each day, but I also have a picture to draw and ink for Inktober. Hopefully you saw my post last Thursday showing all the one’s I’d completed up to that point. Yes, there will be more this Thursday. But, as I said, now I have two goals to reach per day instead of only one.
See, my life is the same as everyone else’s. I wish I could make a plan to accomplish my daily goals, every day, without fail. My achiever personality really would like it that way. But reality is reality and can’t always be anticipated. So I fear the day where I miss my goals.
I’ve been trying to record, when I’m home, a chapter on Saturday and another on Sunday. For the most part, it works really well. I haven’t even been setting an alarm to get up extra early to do it. I’ve just let it happen.
This weekend, I hadn’t expected on a dog puking in the middle of the night. On my bed.
It’s bad enough to wake up to the sound, but to realize that she is on my bed is even worse.
I had to get up and clean the mess. Not fun. I should have known that since Kreeli had come in to sleep with me when Adrian was home that she wasn’t feeling well. She loves Adrian and sticks with him nearly all the time. She’s a pure breed Shih Tzu and his companion; living true to her breeding. The only time she really stays with me is when Adrian is gone, she wants some quiet time in my writing office away from everything else, or she’s sick. She hadn’t come in to stay with me after I went to bed and Adrian hadn’t come home from work yet, so I should have been suspicious when she came in after he got home. I just felt her move up on the bed and didn’t give it much more thought.
Until that moment I was cleaning up my blankets in the middle of the night.
Needless to say, it disrupted my sleep cycle and I certainly didn’t wake up earlier than usual.
But the morning still worked out so I could jump in the booth and record a chapter while Adrian took Merlin for a walk. Strangely (not really), Kreeli didn’t want to go; she stayed home and slept. I had nearly finished the chapter when Adrian came home, and I did finish while he started getting breakfast together. Worked out perfectly.
So often when I’m writing a blog post meant to inspire, I talk about it being a choice. You can’t help it when life happens to you (a puking dog in the middle of the night), but you can’t let it stop you from choosing your dreams (figuring out how to record a chapter even when everyone in the house is now awake). I even thought about recording the chapter after I’d finished cleaning up and was getting ready to settle back into bed. I didn’t because I knew I was so tired and I wanted to give a good performance, not a mediocre, irritated, tired one.
And so that is how this week had gone. I made the choice to do Inktober, so I need to figure out how to work it into a schedule that already seems too full. I’m hoping that Inktober serves the same purpose that Nanowrimo did nearly 3 years ago when I participated in that; forces me to learn to use my time wisely to achieve my goals. I know a lot of writers who don’t like Nanowrimo for one reason or another. I think it works well for overcoming the mental block of “I don’t have time to write.” Even if the writer tries and fails, they tried and learned what they are capable of doing. I really want to know how to fit drawing into my schedule, even though I have done it long enough to finish Eggs at Play, I also want to find time to practice/learn/experiment, draw my comic, paint, and work on my next children’s book. The only way I will do that is if I make the choice to do something that will push and challenge me so I can prove to myself that I can do it.
It’s not like i write 50,000 words every month as in Nanowrimo. Most months, I only average around 30,000. That’s a comfortable amount for me. Yes, I have proven I can do 50,000, but I now know where a good level is for me. It’s like weight-lifting where you see how much you can lift, then you adjust down to a lower weight in order to do the reps. I want Inktober to show me that I can draw every day, how that flow feels, and helps me get back to a schedule where I have drawing incorporated into my week.
I’ll tell you, it has already proven enlightening. I have discovered something about myself that I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been pushing myself to get Inktober drawings done. I learned that I can’t see lines. I am finally understanding what artists mean by figuring out the shapes, and I understand the concept of negative space, but I haven’t figured out how to simplify something like a photograph down to its simplest lines. This shouldn’t really surprise me. When I listen to music, I hear everything at once, merges, blended. It takes a lot of concentration that I can’t maintain for long if I want to pull one part out, like bass, drums, or a trumpet. I certainly can’t tell what notes they are playing or even attempt to recreate it. When I learned that people could actually follow each individual part and play it, I was astounded.
So what lead me to the realization about the lines? Well, when I was working on Inktober drawings, I would find something simple as a reference drawing. I should have taken a picture of the under-drawing for the “chicken” prompt — I had the cutest little chicken under the cow suit. All but his face was closed off by the time I finished, and the eyes on the face weren’t cute, little, round buttons any more, but sharp eagle eyes. Now mind you, the chicken reference picture was that of a plush. The cow outfit on the chicken I modified from a couple different cartoon references. The “exhausted” prompt where I drew a dead horse, I found a cartoon of a horse with its legs up in the air. It had a saddle on, which I removed in drawing. Then I added all the scenery around it. Yes, it seemed like I was taking simple drawings for reference, then adding my own details to it.
Then, on Sunday, I sat down at Barnes & Noble with some magazines and found a picture I wanted to sketch. It was of a simple cottage with a thatched roof. I’d really like to be able to paint cottages like this. It’s one of my goals. So, I thought sketching this one would help improve my skills. I realized I was seeing everything, at once. I could pull out the lines of perspective because I’ve had enough practice doing that now, but the chimney, the lines of the bricks on the roof, the bricks around the doorway and on the landscaping, the thatching, the forest, the car, it all overwhelmed me. I got frustrated with the sketch. I gave up.
Once I had that failure, I analyzed why I’d had it when I’d been doing so well with Inktober. The answer was clear. Then I was to start taking a marker and going over the picture to simplify it. That’s what I need to do.
Leave it to me to jump in and start learning, then once I reach a certain level I have to go back and figure out all the beginning material. I’ve always been like that. (grin) Blame it on my astrological sign.
For me, learning this makes Inktober already a success. It probably explains where I have plateaued and why. If I can get beyond my frustration and get back to art, it’ll be worth it.
Also this week, I finished and uploaded the audio on For Sale, Call Loki. It’ll probably be released in about two weeks. That means that next week I get to start to work on editing the audio on For a Good Time, Call Loki. I’ve got 4 chapters recorded so far.
I started working on a new logo for my newsletter, but I think that was just a distraction on which I shouldn’t have wasted my time. I need to send my welcome email for readers who have recently joined my list; instead, I delayed it and I should have. I should have sent it, then gone to working on the logo for the next newsletter. Now I need to go send it anyway after delaying it several more days. And I still have no logo. Bad me!
I also started a chapter outline of Tangled Magic. I was working on Walk the Path, but so much had changed and I couldn’t remember the order of scenes that I was frustrating myself. That’s the sign for me to stop and line out the scenes.
It seems like a lot, but to me it doesn’t feel like a productive week. Just a time of trying to keep my head above water. On the other hand, I did a lot of personal projects that needed to get done. I also made applesauce with a bunch of apples that I received. Oh, and I tried to make hamburgers in my Instant Pot — I had to cook them longer than the recipe said, but I was happy with the taste. Have I mentioned that I love my Instant Pot?
Daily word goal reached for 58 days. Weekly word goal reached for 11 weeks.
Writing month to date total: 7,487 words
Writing year to date total: 255,292 words
Drawing/painting last week: No painting this week, but I drew a lot for Inktober. I did take the time to get ahead on my pencil sketches, but I will ink them on the appropriate day. I don’t want pressure that will make me not do this.
Audio: I spent 4 hours recording and editing audio. I uploaded 1 hour 31 minutes of audio for distribution.
I did finish the audio for I’m with Cupid and I’ve started recording For Sale, Call Loki, so I’ll be editing that starting this week. I’m with Cupid ended up being very short — of course, it is a short story — and comes in just under 28 minutes long.
I’m making the change from recording and doing preliminary edits in Audacity to working completely in Adobe Audition. That’s been a little bit of a learning curve, but not too bad since I’ve been editing and mastering with Audition for several months now. I’m excited about the possibilities this brings me, even though it’s a complete reworking of my process.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been telling myself that “this weekend I’ll get to go upload audio.” Well, this last weekend was when it came true.
When I upload an audiobook, I like to go sit at Starbucks. First off, coffee = yes, please! Second, I don’t often go to Starbucks (I usually go to Barnes & Noble which is a cafe serving Starbucks coffee. It never quite tastes the same. I have yet to have a drink at B&N that tastes exactly like Starbucks — and I prefer the way B&N does it, so double yes please to books and coffee). So a trip to Starbucks is actually a break from my usual routine and and therefore a treat. Thirdly, killer Internet! I can upload the files much faster than anywhere else I’ve found so far.
Now, I just sit back and wait for my files to be approved. Fingers crossed on that one. I’m a little worried. Plus, I didn’t do my final listen through on this book (another worry). After spending 6+ years trying to record this book and trashing so many rotten versions, I just can’t listen it to once more. You know, this book is the whole reason I threw in the towel and bought myself a Whisper Room; I despised the sound I was getting, not to mention having to wake up at 2 a.m. on the weekends to record so I didn’t have noisy neighbors, cars, birds, cat fights, barking dogs, owls, crickets, etc. in the background of my recording. When I had the rain and wind in the middle of the night, plus I was a wreck for several days afterwards from a strange sleep schedule, I decided trying to have my own homemade studio was not what I wanted to do. I wanted it to be quick and simple: a good recording, quick editing, done and released to the world.
Yeah, let me tell you, even with the Whisper Room, it’s a journey I’m not sure I’ve ever been prepared for or one that I will ever be successful at. And I feel this way every time I release a new audio. I never feel like it’s good enough. I know there are still flaws in this, which is why I had to let it go. If I went through it again (and I can say this as a fact from where I’ve re-listened to parts of it in trying to find something I wanted to use as a sample), I would ditch all the audio again and re-record it over again. No matter how careful I was when I was going through it, I was always going to hear something that needed fixed. You get the loud clicks out of an audio and all the small ones come jumping back at you.
I’ve learned skill I never imagined I’d be learning. Plus, I work at learning new things all the time. I think it’s important to always be improving yourself.
Okay, the “advice gurus” these days are always touting how “entrepreneurs or people wish to be leaders” should specialize and niche down — hand off the things that they are not good at.
While this is fine most of the time, what about when you are raising a family with no outside help? There is no one else I could hand things off too that would just do it for free. What are they going to work for? Exposure? (Okay, that’s a bad artists’ joke — doctors, plumbers, accountants, lawyers, etc. all expect to be paid for the work they do, but when it comes to artists (whether it be writers, photographers, artists, actors, etc) they are often asked to do a job as a “favor” for free because it’ll get them great exposure with all the people at the wedding, event, social gathering, etc. Annoying!)
Yeah, trust me, my plumber doesn’t want to come fix the pipes on my old house for the exposure of having his truck out front, even if I were to pay for supplies myself. (“But other people in my neighborhood might need your help and imagine how much business you could get by having your truck there.” Okay, I actually have a plumber living across the street from me, so in my mind, Loki is really laughing at me right now asking if I want a plumber fight on my hands.) So, I learned to fix things and put in my own elbow grease.