I’ve been asked to write this blog by Webucator (www.webucator.com) as Nano (National Novel Writing Month) has now come to a close. Their questions prompted me to think about my writing and my goals. Many of you are still in the writing mode or working on revisions to your novel. This might be the jumpstart some of you need to get started on the writing path.
What were my goals when I started writing? At first my only goal was to get published in any form whatsoever. I started writing nonfiction, and I did succeed in selling articles to local and national magazines. Still, that wasn't enough. I wanted to be published in fiction, which for me, was the real definition of “writer.” My first thrill was getting, after much hard work, my first agent. And I was even more thrilled when I got my first publishing contract.
Now that I have been published—I have six books out with Berkeley Prime Crime and contracts for six more, plus two e-books out with Beyond the Page Publishing and one more coming from them very shortly—my goals have obviously changed. I hit the Barnes & Noble national bestseller list with my first Gourmet De-Lite mystery, Allergic to Death, and I was thrilled. Of course there are still other lists to conquer including the biggest one of all—the New York Times bestseller list!
Like many writers I would love to be able to support myself with my writing. That’s a huge goal! Not many writers ever achieve that level of success. I think a more realistic goal is that when I retire, writing will become a supplemental income that will give us more financial freedom and allow us to travel. Right now I still need the security of my health insurance.
I currently work as a marketing communications manager for a large company providing services to seniors. I do a lot of copywriting on my job and a lot of PR work. I enjoy it, but it does make it difficult to find, not so much time to write, but the creative energy needed to work on my manuscript at the end of a long day. That’s where deadlines come in handy!
Of course I haven’t completely abandoned the writer fantasy of the kind of life I would lead if I only had to work on my books. I get a taste of that when I take a week off from the day job and spend it at home writing.
I am motivated to keep writing by the modest success I have already achieved. Even though the money is not enough to pay all the bills, it's a substantial enough to make a difference. Plus I don’t think I could stop writing! I have too many stories to tell and I’m very excited to share them with my readers.
As for advice to young writers, I would say the most important quality in a writer is perseverance. I circulated three different projects during a two-year period and racked up 400 rejections. It's very hard not to give up in the face of that many rejections, however there were nuggets of encouragement in them that kept me going I think in order to be a successful writer—however you define successful—whether it’s being published or whether it’s making a living, I think you have to have an extremely strong drive to write. That is really the most important quality of all—you would write even if you knew you would never get published because you can’t help wanting to tell stories.
Peg Cochran also writing as Meg London..