Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Journal of a Novelist Part 2 by Renae Kaye

Last week I gave you guys a peek into my freaked out world as I took my first steps in being a novelist.  Those steps happened (for me) at breakneck speed.

When I wrote Loving Jay I never expected it to be published.  It was only through encouragement from a few key people and the bravery that came from some unknown well inside me that I actually managed to send it off to Dreamspinner. 

Part of the headache of being an author – especially one published through a traditional publisher – is the lag time.  You will see that I’d written my first four published novels (Loving Jay, The Blinding Light, The Shearing Gun and Safe in His Arms) all before the first novel was published.  I wrote them “blind” – without considering what sort of reception they would have from an audience.

I also wrote them all before I had to think about things like blogging and website updating… and before I had all my wonderful friends to distract me on FB. **wink**

You can also clearly see the crippling self-doubt every author goes through.

So let’s continue the journey:

20 March 2014
 - Heard from Paul regarding the cover of The Blinding Light & also [editor] saying she is starting editing.  THEN – OMG!!!
            Release date!!
 - I’m on DSP’s website!  There is my book.  My author profile has been up for a couple of days.  But FREAK!

- Also, forgot to update journal about 2 events:
            1.  Submitted Safe In His Arms.  Now an 8 week wait…
            2.  There is an anthology call out for a story about Bears.  3000-12,000 words to be submitted before the 14th April.  I’m going to try and do it.  I’ve been researching Bear culture & have written 3k so far.  We’ll see…

4 April 2014
 - OMG!  Total Shock.
 - So I sent in Safe on the 15th of March & counted 8 weeks to acceptance/rejection time.  Then today, a mere 2½ weeks later they’ve accepted **shocked hand-drawn face** !

7 April 2014
 - This Bear anthology book is not going well.  I’m not liking it.  Let’s get it finished today & see what it looks like in the morning.  It’s just not “me” to write short.  I’m not liking anything that is coming out at the moment.
 - I hope it’s just nerves re: Loving Jay release + first edits on TBL + OMG too much on my plate.

11 May 2014
- Wow – didn’t update for a while.  Loving Jay was released quietly – and freaked up the charts like I never imagined.
 - I needed to sell approx 200-300 eBooks to cover my advance.  I thought this would take about 2 months.  It took 3 days.  It has been getting awesome reviews.  As of yesterday it had sold more than 200 books on the DSP website and more than 500 on Amazon US that I can tell.  AND JUST WOW.
 - The Blinding Light got three edits & is off to proofing.
 - The Shearing Gun is due for 1st edits on the 18th.
 - My Bear anthology submission was accepted 2 days ago.  Guess what I get paid for it?  $55US.  YAY!  Plus I have to pay $35US for copyright.  *disgruntled face*
 - Currently working on Shawn’s Law.  Just under 60k.  Not liking it.

And there my attempt at a journal ends.  I was never good at keeping diaries.  I’d forget about them after a while.  As you can see my life just exploded.  I was dealing with a new release, edits finished, edits starting, acceptance and writing a new book all at the same time.  For a first time author, this was pretty hard.

Now I can see that it’s a cycle.  I find it very hard to cope with the cycle, and those authors who (seem to?) do it effortlessly are my champions.  At any one time you’re writing a book (or ten), plotting the next, editing at least two and promo-ing one.

You can also clearly see, for me, what it’s like to write.  I never like anything I write… while I’m writing it.  I didn’t like my anthology story, I didn’t like Shawn’s Law.  I remember a cartoon I saw once about the emotions of an author, showing a graph that swings from “I’m a brilliant writer!” to “I’m crap at this” and then back again.  For me it always happens at about 65-75% of the story. 

I first 3-4 chapters of my story are the easiest to write.  I fly through them.

Then you start getting into the heavy stuff and it drags a little.  You set up the conflict and point out all the pitfalls.  You make it hard for your character.  You chuck in some angst.  You wonder where the hell this story is going and which of the three brain cells in your head thought you could be a writer.  Goddamn it.  It sucks.  Writing sucks.  You suck.  Stupid.

I hate that part of the story.  The writing days are torture.  Your character limps along at a rate of half a chapter written per day.  You go back and reread your stuff so many times to make sure it makes sense.  You doubt yourself.  You run away.  You clean the shower instead of writing the story.  You vow to give up writing and live a simple life where you grow your own vegetables and never need money because you can cut your own hair….

I’m not sure if other writers get this way – although it appears they do.  It takes something to push through.  To persevere.  To keep going.  Each author needs to find their own way through that dark patch.  What brings me through is stubbornness.

When I was twenty-one, I took a job as an administrator.  On Day 3 I nearly quit the job.  But I’m stubborn and I don’t like it when others get the better of me.  I stayed in that job for 5 years, loathing my manager every single minute of the day, but she wasn’t going to win.  That same tenacity gets me through the dark bit of writing.  I tell myself that it’s crap and will never be published, but I’m determined to finish the book, just because it’s not going to win.  That book will not beat me.  I don’t care if I’ve wasted my time writing it and that it’s never going to see the light of day.  I write it because I’m stubborn.

And I push through.

The last 10-15% of a book is usually pretty cruisy too.  By that time you can see the end.  You’ve resolved the conflict (or you’re just about to) and it’s just a matter of getting the words onto the page.

So, if any of you are out there, dreaming of writing and saying you can’t do it?  Try it.  I did.  It was weird, exciting, soul destroying, beautiful, eye-opening and so grand I never even dreamt a tenth of what it could be.  I have no writing experience, no training and no help.  But I flew…  and I’ll never forget that moment.  That first release….  That first book…. 
I flew....

And the freak outs.


They were funny.  And I’m glad I managed to capture a glimpse of them by writing them down.

How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye

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