One damn penny at a time

NotebookAfter a brief hiatus, I’m about to start work on the novel again. The manuscript’s been on hold for a couple of weeks because I’ve been putting together a pitch for a series of crime novels. The pitch comprises a couple of paragraphs of high concept, brief synopses for the first three books and, most importantly, the first three chapters of book one. I’m excited about this one.

Both pitch and novel are speculative, of course. I’m aiming to finish the first draft of the novel by September, then it’s rewrites. At the same time, I’ll have this latest pitch out there, plus another pitch I put together earlier in the year. My short story output has plummeted recently so I’ve only got one doing the rounds right now. Need to write more! I’m also talking to my agent about … well, a number of things. Oh, and I’ve just fleshed out another idea in my notebook, bringing the list of books bubbling under to four. But bubbling under don’t pay the rent, so I’m simply working my buns off and waiting, waiting, waiting for responses. Business as usual then.

This is the reality of the writing life. I’ve been doing this since the mid-90s, had ten novels published and still I don’t making a living at it. Luckily, I have a day-job I enjoy. And if I’ve learned anything during those years it’s that you never know what’s round the corner. Just recently I’ve found a whole new audience – and made a bunch of new friends – by blogging about visual effects, a whole new sideline I’m just loving to pieces.

So, if you’re a journeyman writer too, rest assured you’re not alone. This is life in the mid-list, or in the space when your older works are out of print and the new ones have yet to find a home. As lives go, it’s a pretty good one. I do believe there’s gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s just that you have to pick it up one damn penny at a time.

Comments

  1. Don Shay says:

    Hang in there, my friend.

    I admire your spirit and your passion to write, even if you’re falling short of making a living at it — maybe even more because of that. Writing is a tough gig. One of the reasons I started a magazine was that I saw it as one of the few viable ways to make a living at what I loved to do, which was write. Like everything else, though, you have to be carefully what you wish for. I am now so busy with the day-to-day challenges of running the publication that I rarely get to write anymore — though I did publish a book a couple of years ago, having nothing at all to do with movies or visual effects, that was easily the most creatively satisfying thing I’ve ever done.

    So keep picking up those pennies. You’ll hate yourself if your surrender to that day job.

    Don

  2. Thanks so much, Don, for your kind words and support. As I think I said to you recently, I’m too bull-headed to stop what I’m doing, whatever the rewards. The beauty of writing is you can do it any time, any place, with the minimum of equipment. I hope you find time to get a little more writing done for yourself, as well as keeping the good ship Cinefex on course.

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