Friday, April 4, 2014

The Joy of Victory, the Agony of… Too Much in My “In Box”

Many years ago when I decided my second career would be writing romance novels, I, like many other newbies, was elated. I could stay home in my pjs, a wonderful thing after thirty-two years of professional dress and seven o’clock staff meetings.

I could cuddle up to the fire and dream of naughty and enticing themes in the calm warmth of my living room. I would be queen of my schedule and master of my future. No secretary would buzz a warning of some client on a rampage about to tackle my peace of mind with unsolvable dilemmas. I could watch all the things on television I had missed in working long hours and constantly taking or teaching night or weekend classes at UAA. I could do lunch with my husband. I could take a vacation any time of the year I wanted instead of working a holiday into the district’s school schedule.



Everyone needs a fantasy, right? The grass is always greener, so they say. Right?


I quickly learned I didn’t own pjs, and as a full time writer I couldn’t afford to go shopping. Only veteran writers with published books and income can shop. I had forgotten that cuddling up to a fire in the calm of my home only put me to sleep. And I slept very well! I found out my secretary was the true queen of my schedule and she was so much better at it than I could ever be.

And master of my future…I wasn’t even master of my keyboard, let alone something as enormous as my future.

As for watching television, it was a giant time suck and a brain drain. I found myself critically evaluating every show I saw while eating everything in the cupboards as tasty commercials subliminally fed my mini binges.

I no longer worked long hours and kept pace with the night shift. In fact, I worked no hours and no night shifts. My husband got into the habit of calling me two hours before lunch so I would be on time and fully dressed.

Pathetic you say? Pretty much. My mid life career crisis didn’t last long as I have always been goal oriented and a bit of an over achiever.

So I pulled myself up by my slouchy sweat pants and faced the blank screen on my Mac. About a month and a half after I had become a “full time writer” my husband came home and actually found me at my computer writing. It was a beginning.

The challenge of finding yourself in a one-woman, self-dependent occupation is that you are alone and completely at the mercy of your own devices. The joy of a one-woman, self-dependent occupation is you have no one else to congratulate when you finish your first book, but yourself.

You find out that you are responsible for everything. You find out that you are not really alone and your own devices can fill a couple hundred pages if you commit them to paper. Those naughty and enticing themes sell. The joy of victory is so sweet…

Then comes the reality of writing as a career. It’s much harder than being an educator. Talk about burning the midnight oil. My characters demand their lives be committed to pages before I can sleep. Themes invade my mind and cry out for validation. I end up with more stories than I can ever write and readers who want more, faster. My email in-box is filled to bulging with requests for the next story, criticisms on my current books and deadlines that must be met. Covers must be developed, copies sent for review.

It’s exhausting… and wonderful… and satisfying… and a full time endeavor. If someone tells you “Oh, anyone can write brainless romance,” they are correct. But it takes a talented, dedicated author to construct, write and produce a romance novel. And that is just the beginning.

But I did it!

I developed, wrote and self-published my first romance novel. It only took a gallon of sweat, a quart of tears, $25.00 dollars for an ISBN number, $210.00 for a professional cover, many midnight critiques, and the unwavering support and assistance of friends and family. Oh yeah… and five years.

Becoming a romance author is not for those who sleep in, cuddle up to the fire and dream or do lunch out a lot. But it is for me.

>--- Miriam Matthews


DeNise said...

LOL=They NEVER told us the truth!!And there's still a mortgage.
But we keep writing.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Great post, Miriam. Being a full-time writer really takes a full-time commitment. But it's so worth it! :-)