First, a salute to my brothers and sisters in the United States Marine Corps—Happy 239th birthday—and a respectful toast to our brothers and sisters in the other US armed forces as well as friends in the ROK Marines and the Corps of Royal Marines.
May your days be vibrant,
your evenings calm,
your heart safe and warm at home.
Okay, on to business.
As I write this, I just finished my first novel. It’s a short novel of just over 40,000 words. I won’t talk about how long it took but those who took my Writing Into the Dark intensive or online Audio Lecture already know.
Most notably, with the accomplishment of this personal goal, a few more writing myths died quick, painless deaths. That will be the main focus of this post so it’s all about You, the writers out there.
But first, if you’ll allow me, did I celebrate? Oh yes. I told the members of my writers’ group. (These are actual writers, mind you. Folks who put new words on the page pretty much every day.) Then I emailed Dean Wesley Smith, my unintentional mentor. Then I sent the manuscript to my first reader. Then I yelled Woohoo! Then I wrote this blog post to share the good news with You. 🙂 I learned SO much during this project. If it never sells a copy, it will still be more than worthwhile just as a learning experience.
So what writing myths died? Well,
- I did NOT suffer withdrawal symptoms, which I’ve heard some writers actually call “post partum depression” (seriously?) from having finished a novel (ODG, it’s over! What now?);
- I did NOT feel completely exhausted, arm-across-the-forehead, being-carried-from-the-stage spent (James Brown) like I need to take a day or a week or a month off now that I’ve finished (I felt only elation, actually, along with a touch of annoyance that my protagonist solved his problem without me and probably about 20,000 words before I expected him to);
- I did NOT feel like I “owe myself” anything in particular beyond the celebratory stomps laid out above; and best (and biggest) of all,
- I have absolutely NO desire to go back and re-read it, even for pleasure, much less for editing or rewriting or any of that. I’m following Heinlein’s Rules, baby. 🙂 If you want to learn Heinlein’s Rules, you can take my Writing Into the Dark Audio Lecture or you can even Google it. But if you Google it, chances are whoever put up the rules will add their “interpretation” (a bunch of pure crap) to them. Pare away all that and you’ll be fine. Just for grins, I’ve added them below (updated for today’s wonderful self-publishing revival). Yes, revival. You DO know that what we call “traditional publishing” has been around for only the last 70 years of human history, right? As my buddy Denise says, Truedat.
Finally, I woke up this morning thinking Yikes! What if that was just the ending of Part I? Well, it IS true that I had hoped to accompany the protagonist to Mexico, but
- I’ve already spouted off to everyone I know that I’m finished and
- I can party with him in Mexico just as easily in a second novel as I can by accompanying him across the border in the current story.
- Plus, if I write a sequel, I’ll have TWO novels out there instead of just one. Remember awhile back I said the best way to market your work is to write more stuff and put it out there?
So that’s what I’m doing next: writing another story, another novel, another whatever. Just Writing. After all, I’m a writer, and Writers Write. Right? Right! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) 🙂
Here are Heinlein’s Rules. If you want to know what they mean, read them again or take my Audio Lecture.
- You must write.
- You must finish what you write.
- You must not rewrite.
- You must put it on the market so someone can buy it (or in today’s world, publish it).
- You must keep it on the market until someone buys it (or in today’s world, leave it up).
If you’re still chasing traditional publishers, numbers 4 and 5 above (he wrote this in 1947) mean after you’ve written something, if you want to be a professional writer you have to actually submit it to someone who can buy it (publisher). If it’s rejected, you put it in a new envelope and send it out to the next publisher on your list.
Heinlein himself wrote that these rules are deceptively simple and ridiculously difficult to follow. He wrote that’s why there are so few professional writers and so few aspirants. Which are you?
‘Til next time, happy writing!