Just before I went offline this afternoon to take my time off, I did something right.
Jim Mills gave me the URL for writersdigest.com and I bookmarked it, because they have a great signup deal for the book club. Buy one of their titles for $11.95 and pick three more books free, then you're just obligated to say No to tempting monthly selections for the next six months. No other purchases required. Just willpower. When they know that a lot of their members not only use those books but make money on sales and that if they get even one cheque that catalog's irresistible.
It was to me all right. There was my Writer's Market 2002 as one of the catalog listings! Right. I need that. I don't just deserve that, I need it! Pro in 2002 - a new copy of WM is an edge even if the 2001 listings are mostly accurate for the stabler markets. If there's even one new one in there and that happens to be what I sell to ... that could make the difference. That should be a routine annual expense here on out. For my three freebies, I got Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, the one that all the pro authors on the board swear by. The one that all the folks in the Maass class, a Master Class in Forward Motion, swear at by way of monstrous amounts of homework and ripping up their novels to shreds in process of making them so much better they're doing a happy dance. I watched a lot of my friends sweat through it and I knew I'd get that sometime and apply it. No More Excuses.
No more excuses for bad cops and not much detail on crime scenes either, I picked up a Crime manual and for the fourth, hard choices. Ultimately out of half a dozen fun useful references I picked the most expensive, since I figured the rest would cycle up and I might actually have a royalty cheque in hand when the too tempting catalog comes up. A nice manual on period English with the expressions handily dated. This will be useful! Especially in my time travel novels, if I want some old vampire slipping back to his youthful accent or I drop characters into the past on Earth they'll use contemporary expressions.
That was, with shipping, $21 worth of leap of faith. I had it in hand from the art commissions and Verizon's been staved off and I looked at it and I had a pang of terror. I had a hard time justifying something that dang important - something that like art materials will pay for itself. That's habit of mind. That's reaction to the past, not the present. I have made money from writing already with the royalties from Raven Dance - in fact that particular expense is balanced out on the very next royalty cheque out of Raven Dance since it's $4 short of breaking even on its initial costs and the publisher, http://www.iUniverse.com does not pay out till the royalties are $25 or more. I've reacted to the past with that fear.
If I'd picked up a watercolor block or a box of colors or new brushes or a pen or anything like that, I would not have sweated it. This is attitude adjustment time. This is trusting that I can and will make that in 2002, when if I even hit close to my goal of Pro in 2002, I will make a whole lot more than that! Three cents a word? How many words sold would it take to make $21? 700 words - if I even moved a short-short at Pro paying rates, there's my Big Book Binge in a shot.
No, it comes from too many years of conditioning and people that I was close to affecting my budget decisions. That's reacting to the past. The past, when my beloved, now departed grandmother thought nothing of clothes or shoes or electronic toys like radios and televisions but books were always Too Expensive... and so was the typewriter until I needed it for School. She loved me but she wasn't exactly Encouraging and I can't blame her, given the number of times I got miserably depressed trying to write when I was blocked. She'd try to steer me away from it with bribes, movies, toys like that, anything but books or writing materials. For their own reasons, while I was growing up, Mom and Dad were both totally against my writing. Mom wanted to protect me from the emotional pain of rejection slips, that was what she said about it. Dad worried that I actually believed the stuff in my stories was real and that I'd go insane from That Mind-Rot. No doubt was what his parents called it and it was funny that he had so much of it and spent most of his free time reading it and he didn't go insane. I knew them too and they were against it and so was his brother.
Funny, the things I didn't examine in life, the reactions I didn't expect in myself. Funnier still that they've changed their attitude now, both of them. Dad's written and published books, something he hadn't when I was at that age. Now when we talk on the phone it's writer shop talk! He's proud of me. Mom sadly said, the Christmas that she bought me this computer "I guess it's not that you didn't try. It just is that hard." She respects my writing now whether she actually likes my books or not, that's worth a lot.
Time changes everything and this year it's real and there's no more excuses. There were no more excuses when I wound up at that shelter. I had nothing better to do with my life than write novels. I wrote novels, the Wall went down and the novels poured out. I got out. I got Raven Dance into print and it did sell and I got a letter from a fan in South Africa about it, a man I'd never met who just bought it on Amazon since it sounded interesting and he'd read a couple of my articles online.
The things I dreamed about my whole life long came true and I'm sitting here changing my life into what it ought to be. Step by step by step. Maass is a big part of that. It's a lot of fun to write novels but Maass by its reputation is how I can make them that salable too... and that much better. Time for the big dreams now that I bought the ticket. If I do really well with it again and again, there could come a time when Maass himself is my agent! Would be ironic, would be one heck of an achievement too considering how much in demand he is.
Hey, the thing I can do to make it so is to use it, apply it and do my best with it. And if it's not Maass it'll be someone else who's good at their job.
Robert and Ari >^..^<