When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?
I believe that every writer is a working writer. It doesn’t matter whether you’re pre-published, traditionally published, self-published, writing for your own enjoyment, etc. Personally, I’m in the position of being both traditionally and self-published these days.
Now, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m having a hard time getting the creative juices flowing during this pandemic. I have heard the same from other authors in my circle. However, the fact that I’ve only got 12K words on Pompeii Fire so far doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on it. It just means that work is slow right now, and that’s okay.
If you’re writing, you’re a working writer. Period.
I have to be perfectly honest; so much depends on genre. I wouldn’t, for example, ask William Shakespeare to beta read science fiction. Fantasy? Historical fiction? Sure. But space opera? No dice.
Your beta reader, IMO, needs to have a deep understanding of genre as well as the ability to provide fearless, constructive criticism to improve the story. Therefore, from where I sit, it’s a little like the old Lays Potato Chips ad; you can’t have just one.
The short answer is that, for me, the story chooses its own shape and length. Now, sometimes I discover that I’ve gone down the wrong path. An idea that I thought would make a novel becomes a novella or a short story. Maybe that’s because I didn’t think it through far enough, but maybe that’s all it was ever meant to be from the start. In a few cases, I did a specific format and story line, but that was almost always for an anthology project and not my typical style.
One example was my Regency novella, Clytie’s Caller. I had the nugget of the story, and I knew what things I wanted to happen. However, it wasn’t enough to carry a full-length novel, even though it made a complete story cycle in a shorter form.
I’ve had the opposite experience as well, though. My debut novel, In The Eye of The Beholder, started out as a short story for my own amusement. However, the characters refused to be quiet, and I eventually had a full-length tale (and publishers in the UK and US).
The bottom line is that each author’s process is unique to them. Whether you decide in advance to write a steampunk novelette, or a full-length space opera just pops out of your pen, that’s okay. Do what works best for you.
1. An understanding by authors that, while it’s perfectly fine to run your business as you see fit, there are a lot of reasons to use wide distribution rather than going exclusive with one retail partner. One of those reasons is that it’s narrow, short-term thinking. Not all partners hold the same market share around the world, and it’s a good idea to make sure that more people, rather than fewer, have access to your work.
2. Monetizing your work is not the endgame. Writing for the love of it is fine; making a living at writing is less and less likely all the time. Having a few cents trickle in here and there is going to be the outcome for most of us.
3. Due to COVID-19, I think that in-person events are going to be harder to manage. That’s a bummer, because I like meeting readers. It’s true that these events take a toll on me physically (for those who don’t know, I have a non-communicable autoimmune disease), but it’s still nice to see people’s faces and talk about my work. I don’t know any more about how this will look than I do anything else.
Here’s this month’s question from the Insecure Writers Support Group: Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?
I’m pretty much an open book. I’ve talked about my health problems, and some social issues as well. However, this question feels … invasive.
It reminded me of an interviewer who asked actor Christopher Lee about his time in the Long Range Desert Group, in World War II, during which he was attached to the British SOE and SRS. Much of his work was classified, and the interviewer wanted to know about it since so much time had passed.
Lee: Can you keep a secret?
Lee: So can I.
An article/obit in which Lee talks about how he always said that may be found here.
As much as I love my readers, and I do love you, not everything about my life is for public consumption. Thanks for understanding.