Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Evolution to Writing Novels

So my goal for 2014 (yep, also called my New Year's resolution) is to write 4 novels. Now that's a huge goal for me. Up until this point, I haven't written anything longer than a 20k word novella. Bottom line: it means I have to write about 5,000 words a week this next year to meet this challenge.

What makes me think I can pull this off without having written a full length book yet? Two things. First, I had a good run this past summer writing close to 5k words a week for about a month or two. I didn't complete a novel, but I worked on one and wrote a number of short stories and short novellas.

Now the difference is that last summer I wasn't working full time. (I'm a middle school Language Arts teacher and had two months off.) From now through May, though, I'll be busy teaching, swim coaching, and possibly going back to school to finish my masters. So until summer, I'll have a fuller plate as I try to write and meet my word count goal.

But here's the thing. When my business folded in 2007/2008 (long story for another post, maybe), I found a bunch of odd jobs to make some (very little) money. I drove a limo, I waited tables, I delivered phone books, I sold ice cream from a van that blared that annoying dinkle tinkle music. In other words, I busted my butt trying to make ends meet. And then I went back to school to get my teaching degree. In my 40s.

Talk about a mid-life crisis. Lesson to me: If I could juggle all that when life demanded it (not all those jobs were at the same time, however, lol) then surely I can carve an hour or so out of my day to write 750 to 1000 words. Like I said yesterday when I reported my 2013 numbers and outlined my 5 year business plan, I can give up Good Morning America...even though I'm addicted to Ginger Zee.

All that to say, the work load and discipline issue really isn't an issue if I put my mind to it.

The second reason I think I can accomplish my goal of 4 books in 2014 is that conquering the novel is the natural next phase of my evolution as a writer. That is, the time is right to take my writing to the next level. Here's what I mean. When I started writing fiction again (in 2007 as a form of therapy, after about a 20 year break - another topic for another post), I started small. Literally. I wrote microfiction - super short pieces (mostly silliness and microhorrors) that I edited down even further. It was good practice.

Here's an example. Not saying it's great lit, but I think it fun.

Good News (100 words)
"What's the verdict, Doc?"
"Bad news first?" she asks.
"Sure, I reply, knowing that shooting jaw pain can't be good.
"You've got two molars rotten to the roots. We pull the teeth and save you the trouble of a double root canal." She smiles.
"Is that remedy supposed to be the good news?" I ask.
The dentist simply shakes her head. "Do you floss, by the way?"
"Nope. Never have." I'm waiting for the lecture.
"Well, the good news is you don't have to floss if you don't want to."
"Really?" I ask, confused.
"Just the teeth you want to keep."

Good News (55 words)
"Verdict, Doc?"
"Bad news first?"
"Sure." Jaw pain can't be good.
"Two rotten molars. Pulling 'em beats a double root canal." The dentist smiles.
"That's good news?"
She shrugs. "Do you floss?"
"Nope." Lecture time.
"Then you don't have to floss if you don't want."
"Really?" I'm confused.
"Just the teeth you want to keep."

Silliness. That was early 2007. About that time I also started my e-zine (Residential Aliens, which I've since sold) and edited an anthology, which was also great practice. These projects helped jumpstart my evolution as a writer. I then wrote some flash fiction (up to 1000 words) and had them accepted here and there. I eventually worked my way up to some longer pieces (and a collaboration or two), another anthology, and started editing another e-zine called Fear and Trembling.

Then along came the ebook revolution. So in 2011 and 2012 I posted some of my stories online...and I sold one or two! Amazing. Someone downloaded an ebook and I got paid for it. Thus began my dream of becoming a full time indie writer. Now, I'm not an early adopter (plus my skill just wasn't there a few years back, probably still isn't, but I'm learning!) so I missed the "first wave" of John Locke/Amanda Hocking publishing success. And I've probably missed the second and third waves as well.

But participating, experimenting, and learing as much as I've been able to these past few years and reading like crazy to understand this new era of publishing has been great inspiration. It's prompted me to think of 2013 as the year of taking it seriously. It. My writing career. And for me, this journey has now led me to 2014, the year of writing novels. Not just one novel. Four.

Resolved: I, Lyndon Perry, will write and publish four novels in 2014.

I can carve the time out of my schedule. I feel my writing has evolved to accommodate the length a novel demands. And so the timing is right. Not sure if there's another wave coming in the industry, but if there is I'll do my best to be ready...with a few more books on my virtual sellers bookshelf for that buyer who just might be looking for the kind of story I've written.

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