How We Write–It’s All Up to Us…

My 2012 teaching tour kicks off tomorrow, with a one-day GRW workshop, speaking about planning through character along side the fabulous Tanya Michaels and and Berta Platas. My editorial work has really taken off in the last few months. Very business-y. I’m all full up with answers, right? Hardly. The only thing I know for certain still, after 7 years in the business as an author and editor/teacher/coach is that, in the end, what our publishing careers become is All Up to Us. We’re in charge. You’re in charge. Of all the random variables, no. But your choices are your own, to own and live up to and deal with the fall out from. Shirking that responsibility off when things don’t go your way, is a learning opportunity lost. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t give up your power.

buck stops here lucy director of everything

I’ve made a lot of decisions in the last ten years. The first of which was to leave my senior tech writing job to stay home and be more available to my extremely ADHD son, as he navigated public education (don’t try this at home, folks, these trix ain’t for kids). My fiction publishing career was about to take off. And then it did. Fast-forward five years, and the teenager was doing GREAT, meanwhile health issues derailed my forward momentum in my new business venture (branding me as author readers would auto-buy). Was getting sick and having surgery and getting even sicker, only to begin healing a year later and discover that the publishing world I knew had crumbled out from under what I thought was solid footing, my fault? Hell no. Would whining about my ”rebuilding” help me get through this set back. HELL to the no. 

What good would it do to blame anyone else that I have a teenager going to college in a couple of years and need more steady money coming in the door, after I was basically forced to take some unexpected time off?

buck stops here failed to stop

It takes time (more time than I wanted it to) to choose your next direction, after the last turn you took didn’t result in the fabulous success you were fighting for. A direction that is uniquely, undeniably your own is a work-in-progress, an obstacle course you never quite stop navigating. But I took that opportunity this year and ran with it (while, yes, I cursed the fate that seemed to be beating up on me). It was time to decide all over again what I really wanted out of my writing and my career. Multiple steams of income, yes. But I needed those next book contracts and business decisions to also be “jobs” that I could thrive doing, and books that I’d be dying to get up every morning to write.

My soul and creativity and career didn’t just need a new jump start–they needed to be moving upward and onward from this place of everything I’d learned about myself and my business so far. This wasn’t starting over. It was time to dream big again, as I had at the very start, about what the next 7 years would be about. Writing the same books I already had? Working with only the one publisher I’d had moderate success publishing with, no matter how long I had to work to get back under contract or how much of my voice and story ideas had to be trimmed away to make myself fit? Only being an author, when I have valuable editing and publishing skills (from both my technical and creative writing experience) to offer and make a consistent living executing?

Much like during the drafting of a new novel, I found myself at a crossroads–do I limit my story out of fear of going too far, or do I let it and my characters sing and become what they’re meant to be?It was up to me, as the visions for our novels are up to all of us, how this turning point in my career would pan out. And there was no one there to tell me what to do. Every option before me had merit. The question was, what was this journey going to be about–settling and playing it safe, or getting down to the business of making something fabulous happen again?

buck stops here color

So, are things fabulous yet? Well, I’m an Entangled acquiring editor now (steady future income stream–check), and a launch Dead Sexy Books author (exciting new series to write into, that I absolutely LOVE–check, check), and my agent’s in negotiations with a different publisher to contract a single title contemporary romance series I’ve been dying to write for years (multiple income streams going forward for my fiction writing-check, check, CHECK!).

Basically, I’m doing three jobs at once at the moment and exhausted and trying to stay healthy, now that I’m getting some of that I Feel So Good Again going on a consistent basis. Yes, it’s a little like starting over, but it’s so much more like moving onward and upward and building in ways maybe I wouldn’t have, if things hadn’t stalled to a stand-still not too long ago.

So, fabulous? Yes, but only because I’m choosing to see it that way. I’m seeing the reality of my publishing business as it is now, not the negativity of what’s gone before. I’m choosing to see opportunity, not doors closing behind me. I’m choosing to write forward, not remaining so tied to the beautiful things I’ve created in the past that I’m too afraid to reach for the potential of the stories I’ve yet to paint into the world.

It’s all up to us. The planning, the execution, and the revising of the vision–both for our stories and our lives. That’s been my vision for How We Write from the very start. You have to understand and own your writing process, and re-evaluate it often enough to keep growing and maturing as a creative artist. It’s the same with your career–with your own business story. A harsh but true reality I find myself reliving daily. And never once have I been sorry for taking decisive action, whenever one of these decision moments bears down on me. We act, or we get left behind while progress tramples on by. Just as we must act decisively as we plan, craft and rewrite a novel, or the reader will never get the chance to experience that magical thing you envisioned bringing to her back at the very start.

No one else is at fault–WE’RE not at fault–when things go off track with our plans for our careers or our books. That’s just how it works. We write and live ourselves into corners, then we navigate ourselves right back out of the muck until we decide on the next path. But it is our job to execute our NEXT vision for our destination, with just as much enthusiasm and endurance as before, no matter how many times our plans have derailed into undesirable territory.

So tomorrow, I’ll be teaching craft, yes. But I’ll also be coaching authors about the bigger picture. That regardless of my advice… In the end, how you write, and how you live your writing business, is all about you…


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12 Responses to “How We Write–It’s All Up to Us…”

  1. robena grant says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. All we can do in life, writing or otherwise, is to hold a vision and hold out for the best possible outcome of that vision and keep moving forward.
    Wish I could attend your workshop. : )

  2. It was good to hear your story. Really inspiring. Thanks for this.

  3. Jackie Rod says:

    Anna, Thanks for this wonderful blog on staying positive and thanks for a great workshop on “Characters” at GRW. You did an ecellent job of showing us how to hone our craft. Stay strong!

  4. Your post reminds me of the way Michael Hague (I think it’s Michael Hague) casts the character arc as a journey from living in fear to guard ourselves from wounds, to living in love and courage, with an understanding that wounds happen, but they can be healed by love.

    I am so grateful to be able to say: I love to write. Millions of words later, I still love to write.

  5. Thanks for sharing your journey and your ups and downs. I am so glad that you are better. I think we all go through times in our careers where we wonder why we are doing what we are doing. The bottom line is that you’ve got to love the writing and enjoy doing it. If that changes, you need to step back and reassess what’s keeping you from enjoying it and find a way to get back the passion you once had. Good luck with everything, my friend.

  6. Anna, thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story with us. Congratulations with your success and hope you have many, many more success stories!

  7. Hi Anna! Wonderful post – thanks for sharing. I’m so glad you’re feeling good! I read somewhere once that to change everything, simply change your attitude. I try to remember that on days when I’m feeling down – that it’s my choice how I feel and while sometimes hard, if I can squeak out a few smiles, I usually feel better. (Blasting music usually does the trick, too.)

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