Have you ever heard the quote that goes something like Do what others won’t for two years, and you’ll be able to live how others can’t?
I sort of love and hate this quote. I love it because I’m super goal oriented and I like short timelines. And two years is a relatively short amount of time to throw your heart at a passion project. I hate it though because it’ s all about comparing your victories, efforts, and success with other people. I’m always running my own race, and while, yes, I do get envious of others who can run faster than I can (literally and metaphorically), my achievements aren’t measured against anyones but my own. Not really. All that I can do is run my best race. Write the best book that my skill level allows for, each time I write a book.
Today, I choose to focus on the positive bit of that statement…what I can accomplish in two years.
I published my first novel 2 1/2 years ago in October 2013. And it was 2 years before that in November 2011 that I gave myself permission to write in the first place and embarked on my first National Novel Writing Month.
I’m going to break down the two cycles of two years and what I’ve accomplished – because it’s really quite extraordinary what can happen in two years. I’m looking down the road of the next two years and I like to look backward to assess before I look forward to plan what’s next. Also, sometimes we don’t meet every single one of our goals and I find that if I focus on what I have accomplished it helps me keep going with better focus and determination.
November 2011-October 2013: The First Two Years
- Get honest with myself about wanting to write
- Write a short story
- Join and participate in my first National Novel Writing Month
- Finish my first novel!! It’s called the Deadlands and may NEVER see the light of day
- Read every book I can get my hands on that teaches writing (because after that first book I realized how much I didn’t know
- Edit The Deadlands
- Hand that first novel off to a kind friend (she should get some sort of medal of honor because OMG it sucked bad)
- Give up and Put the stack of papers that was The Deadlands into a drawer and nail it shut
- Write the rough draft for what would become Roanoke Vanishing. The working title was The Missing (Apparently I had a thing for putting The at the beginning of my titles. That might still be a problem…I’ll look into a 12-step for that
- Read, edit, cut, cry, write second draft of Roanoke Vanishing
- Find a professional editor (nearly die at just the thought of a professional looking at my work but send it anyway)
- Read about self-publishing and book marketing and author platforms
- Decide to build my own website
- Actually get the website going (with help from friends and family who were able to give me little pointers along the way)
- Decide to self-publish that short story I wrote in 2011 just to see if I could learn how to format, create a cover, etc
- This a really funny side bar that is totally indicative of who I am. I got the idea on December 28, 2012 that I wanted to publish my first “anything” in 2012. So I edited the short story to the best of my editing abilities (they weren’t good, in case you are wondering), download Jutoh, a formatting software, and designed a cover (it was TERRIBLE) in 2 days.
- The Strong One went live December 30, 2012
- Revel in my awesomeness (I hope you are hearing the sarcasm there)
- Get edits back from the Professional. Cut 30K words out of my 55K word novel, shove it in a drawer and consider alternate careers
- Straighten my shoulders, dig deep for any courage I can muster and edit/rewrite the shit out The Missing. I went from about 20K words to approximately 80K between April and August of 2013.
- Find and hire a cover designer
- Send Roanoke Vanishing through two more vicious rounds of editing
- Find and hire a book formatter (even though I’d done it successfully with that short story, I wasn’t sure if I could manage the bulk of a novel in the formatting process)
- Published Roanoke Vanishing on October 30, 2013
The First Two Years TL;DR: Decide to write, learn to write, write, publish, decide to build a website, learn to build a website, build a website, decide to learn to format, learn to format, format, decide to self-publish, learn how to self-publish, publish first short story and first novel.
November 2013-October 2015: The Second Two Years
Year 1 (a lot happened here and I might get some of it out of order)
- Get my first paycheck from my writing
- Participate in my 3rd National Novel Writing Month
- Get a crazy idea to write and publish serial episodes
- Start writing episodes of The Immortals: A Vampire Fairytale
- Decide that it would be awesome to have audio books and begin researching that process (December 2013)
- Roanoke Vanishing available on audio in February 2014
- Publish five episodes of The Immortals three weeks apart until they are all released (Summer 2014)
- Participate in my first ever book reading/signing at a local bookstore
- Learn to design my own covers for those (went through many, many, many horrible iteration before they were decent
- Compile the individual episodes of The Immortals: A Vampire Fairytale into a collection for paperback September 2014
- Work on audiobooks for each Immortals episode and finally the collection of Season 1
Year 2 (Here’s where things get CRAZY)
- 4th National Novel Writing Month (November 2014)
- January 2015 publish next short story Scent of Death
- February 2015 publish Goodbye Love (first collaboration with another author)
- May 2015 publish TWO BOOKS IN ONE WEEKEND because I am insane (Maya Vanishing and Inconvenient Murder)
- Created Plot Mechanics with another author and began mentoring new authors
- Learned tons about marketing and social media
- Began to build clientele for freelance work (plotting, cover design, social media and marketing)
- August 2015 publish a science fiction novel, First Watch, in a huge multi-author collaboration
- October 2015 publish Moonlight Murder
- December 2015 (a smidge past the two year mark) published Bewitched Murder
- January 2016 (a little further past the two year mark but close enough that I’m lumping it in) publish a new short in the Presidium world Mary Martin vs. Herself and plot Haunted Ink
- 10 published audio books available
- During this two years I got more and more literate in photoshop and began creating covers for other people
The Second Two Years TL;DR Sell books, add audiobooks to my catalog, publish 7 more books, 2 more short stories, kick photoshop’s ass, start a small writing related mentoring project, collaborate with authors on several projects, generally feel like a badass except for when I feel like a failure. Go figure!
I’ll admit that I’ve got some crazy goals for the next 4 years, some of which I’ll be brave enough to say out loud soon. The achievements I hope to make are definitely beyond the scope of my current talent and skill set, but you know what? So was everything I accomplished between 2011 and 2015. I didn’t know how to write a book until I sat down and taught myself how to do it. And yeah, there was a learning curve, but it was totally worth it!
When I take a few minutes to reflect on what I actually can do, completely independent of what others are doing since I’m not in a race with anyone else, I feel amazing. I’m looking at evidence of my own power and silencing the inner critic that tries to tell me I’m not smart enough or talented enough or whatever enough.
I’m so glad, SO GLAD, that I was brave enough to take that first step 4+ years ago and write that short story. I’ve met people, so many people, that have touched my life in amazing ways that I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t stepped out on that limb.
If there is something that is calling to you, pulling at you, don’t wait until you can do it perfectly. Jump in like I did. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do it yet. Do it anyway! If I can do it, you can do it. If you need help, I’m just a message away!
It’s time to rock it, people. #letsdothis