After seventeen years in academia I felt drained and unfulfilled. I couldn’t understand it. My fellow academicians thrived in our fast-paced, noisy, student-filled environment. What was wrong with me? I got a PhD for this. I loved the students and their stories, but I didn’t love the grading or the prep. I loved the writing, but not the content. And every year I loved the things I loved less.
Fast forward to 2015. I stumbled upon the @GCLS website and a year-long writing class. I had dreamed of writing a book. I had fantasized about telling people I was a fiction author. I had dabbled in autoethnography (which is the closest thing to fiction writing I could find in my old world). I had published in anthologies and collections.
“Why not?” I asked myself. “If you want it. Do it. What can be so different?”
My wife (on the right) fully supported the new direction, just as she continues to support and celebrate every small step I take.
I dove in head first, and I loved it. However, I quickly learned that the answer to my, “What can be so different” question was, “A lot.” And so I sought out what was similar. I built my foundation from that.
Both worlds use words and sentences. Both seek to convey a message. Both worlds demand good grammar and mechanics to be successful. Both demand research skills and the ability to network and use conferences wisely. I got to make check marks for all of this. That helped.
How the sentences are put together, the words that are chosen to convey the message, and the type of research and the way it is used? That’s where things get crazy. Community is different based on the type of writing you choose. So is networking and pitching and submitting your work. Your bio changes, and so does where you post it. Choosing a publishing house. Indy or main stream. Getting in the top ten. YA. NA. A. Types of editing. So many things.
But I am a researcher, a good one, and so I started combing sites and asking questions. I have spent two years researching this new world and how what I know transfers.
Today I am working with an editor to get my first manuscript query ready. It has been a road of ups and downs, twists and turns, laughter and tears. I am ready to continue my own journey. Along the way, I want to share some of what I have learned about the fiction writing process with those of you who feel afraid or defeated or nervous or absolutely any other emotion on the spectrum. I hope you will join me. I hope you will leave words of wisdom of your own. It takes a village. I believe that.
I have much to share with you. Let’s do this!