Two weeks ago, giddy from riding a wave of confidence growth, I tried to explain to my sister how I felt. In my mind, it was like dragging that Krazy Karpet to the top of the hill in two feet of snow, then pushing it to get started because the snow was soft and the friction kept me still. After about six feet, I felt the momentum of the Karpet, and I had to use less effort to increase speed and then, I hit the smooth, icy section and I was off!
Confidence is like that. I’ve never really had much in life; it was something others had, something I envied and sometimes felt annoyed by because some had too much and were in my face or not bothering to look back to see how they looked from the perspective of others. That was my problem, not theirs.
Long ago, I gave up the desire to obtain confidence because I thought it was something not for me. It was like the talent to play guitar, the ability to recall phone numbers after hearing them once, the skill to walk in high heels and not feel like an idiot.
Over the past two months, that’s changed. I can’t thoroughly explain why; I don’t understand it myself. I just feel different.
This is one of four posts on life and how my perspective of it has drastically changed the past three months. The transition started July 2018, but it has taken me until this spring to fully realise the path I travelled up until last July has changed. From the outside, I look the same (except I’ve lost over 35 pounds). The major changes have taken place inside. It’s like someone else’s brain fell into my head, and it’s looking around thinking, let’s renovate this life. There will be exceptions to how I think, but the exceptions don’t change the rule.
I’m writing these for two reasons: 1) to remind me of my journey and where I really want to go (out there, beyond where I’ve been); 2) to share my experience with the hope others will be inspired to change their perspective, so they can live a better life. My journey has been helped by those who put into words a better way to live.
Last fall, while sitting around dreaming about what 2019 would give me, something clicked in my brain: I didn’t want it to give me anything; I wanted to earn and control what entered my life, take what awaited me. I could only do that if I had the courage to change my attitude, the way I looked at my life and what I was willing to give in return.
My goal for more than ten years has been to write a long epic fantasy series, and while I was set on the goal, little had been accomplished. By October 2018, I had two books written and book number 3 containing about 30,000 words. It was far from the epic adventure I’d envisioned more than a decade ago.
For a few years, I’d had wonderful spurts where I’d write 10,000 sometimes 30,000 words in a month, but there were many months I didn’t write anything. And there were writing projects I took on unrelated to the Castle Keepers series. While I’m glad I wrote the humour and two romance novels, they didn’t bring me closer to my goal: author of a ten-book fantasy series.
Last October, I put my foot down and I promised to not only focus on the fantasy series but to write every day. Every day.
I enjoy local stories that take place in rural settings, so when I read The Girl at the Top of the Tree, it struct a nerve. The story takes place in rural Nova Scotia, the Annapolis Valley to be exact, or as locals call it, The Valley. It starts several generations into the past, but quickly transports readers to the 1960s.
The brief family history tugs at my genealogical nerve, and I’m wondering about the surname and if I can find it on a census record. Details about the First and Second World Wars also pique my interest. I’ve done a lot of research on both because of family members, including my father, who served in them.
What would you do with dragon’s blood? Did Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan play cricket together on the same team? Which teenaged queens lost their heads, literally? Are you interested in garden gnomes? How about Tudor history?
It’s easy to write a novel. Just ask anyone who hasn’t written one. They’ll tell you when they retire, they’ll write one and published it. They say this with such ease you’d think it was as simple as rising in the morning and dressing. After all, everyone who can put a few words on paper can write, so they’d be able to string together a few thousand words and write a novel. No problem.
And it isn’t a problem until they sit down to begin that first chapter.
Nova Scotia indie author Thea Atkinson has a challenge for blog readers. She wants to accumulate 100 followers by Christmas. With 68 already, it’s not an impossible number to reach for. She’s even offered an incentive: if the goal is reached, a random subscriber will receive one complete Thea ebook package. AND if she exceeds expectations and gains 200 followers of her blog by December 24th, a random subscriber wins the ebook package plus a $25 Amazon gift coupon.
I knew it would arrive sooner or later, but like digging out dreaded Christmas decorations, I had put it off for as long as I could. Then one morning I downloaded my messages and found the request sitting there, like a cat with enlarged pupils, ready to pounce.
An editor asked for an updated headshot to accompany my genealogy column, Roots to the Past. I had to face the music . . . er, the camera. After all, I couldn’t write forever with a picture taken in 2005, could I?
I shocked myself yesterday. I was eating lunch, taking a break from writing my genealogy column when it struck me: I hadn’t included my writing job.
Let me back track to explain. While at the farm store yesterday morning, I saw a poster looking for Canada census takers. I decided it would be an interesting experience, and since I write a genealogy column, I could write about it.
I just finished reading The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by James Alexander Thom. The first part of the book was a little boring but surprisingly a pleasure to read. Does that make sense? Can something be a wee boring, still a pleasure?
Perhaps I felt a little bored because the first part of the book covered much of the same material I had read many times before: research, libraries, getting your hands on the documents, getting your facts straight, what is history, staying true to history . . .
Once the decision to self-publish was made, I had to change my way of thinking. Instead of trying to get noticed by traditional publishers, I had to learn how to do what they did.
I began searching the Internet for stories about indie authors. Actually, in May 2010 I hadn’t yet heard the term indie author. That came several months later. Before then, I referred to those who published their books as self-publishers.
Over the past year, I’ve been asked by many people, both writers and non-writers, why I chose to self-publish my book Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove. My answers depended on which stage of publishing I had been in at the time. With the project completed and only marketing left, I can provide better, more thorough answers.
As promised in a post a short time ago, here is the first in a series of posts about my self-publishing journey.
I was looking through the Weekly Press yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to see a write-up on a local indie author. I dropped everything – including the column I had been working on – and sat to read the article.
I first met Art Burton of Latties Brook, Hants County, Nova Scotia at our local writers group about a year or so ago. At that time, we discussed self-publishing and the price of a finished soft cover novel. I had unwittingly said that $18 for a novel was way too much. After all, I can pick up my favourite fantasy novel for ten dollars or less. And I had purchased novels for my children for around the same amount. A novel only inches away from a lovely green twenty was out of my price range.
Later, I explored the local book store where I usually made my purchases. Certainly, the novels I had bought were around the ten dollar range, but some novels were in the high teens or slightly over twenty dollars. Obviously, I hadn’t done my homework before making that comment to Art. I have since corrected my views on the price of novels and told Art about my discovery.
Once again, “Sorry, Art.”
The article in the Weekly Press talks about Art’s current publication, For Hire, Messenger of God. But this isn’t his first published work. He’s well-known for his creative non-fiction Hoboes I Have Known.
To read the full article, visit the Weekly Press or if you’re local, pick up a copy of the newspaper. It’s on stands until Tuesday March 15th.
Art recently began a blog where he posts his experience as a self-published author. Drop by, have a look around and subscribe.
Many times over the past twelve years, I’ve been asked, “How do you do it?”
The it referred to is the amount of words I can write in any given time frame. Usually, my answer is, “I don’t know. I just sit and write.” Or “I’m addicted to writing and easily inspired, so can’t help but write every day.”
But perhaps there is more to this answer.
On Friday night, my co-workers and I watched the wind, rain and snow storm sweep across the Atlantic Canada on the Weather Network. Supper had been busy, but as 9 o’clock neared, business dropped off; people didn’t want to leave home for a pizza. Still, the odd order came in for delivery. The driver would return, wetter than before, commenting on the wind and the rain.
We all knew the temperature was predicted to drop, and we all hoped it would wait until after we closed. But it didn’t.
Around 12:30 am, the temperature at the airport was still at 7 degrees Celsius, where it hung most of the evening. By 12:45, I noticed it had dropped a degree. By 1:00 am, it was zero. We stepped outside to check the conditions. The rain that had created large pools of water on the roadway and had gushed up through man holes had turned to snow, flying in the high winds as if late for an important dinner date.
By the time we closed around 2:20 am, the roads were covered, door knobs were frozen and white-outs lurched in the shadows created by the street lights. The 17-minute drive home on the rural roads of Nova Scotia was going to be a wee bit longer tonight.
With the cars cleaned off, and one final customer who blew in as we were locking the door served, we started our journey home. Right about now, some drivers might have been gripping the wheel with white knuckles, peering through the windshield into the dark night and wishing to be anywhere but there.
That was me last winter. But after driving through so many storms, getting home from work or getting to work, I don’t feel that way any longer. One might say I have been conditioned for the road conditions.
Instead, I settled into the driver’s seat, heard I’m a Wildflower by the Janedear Girls on the radio and turned it up. I was instantly transported to a summer’s day where I was running through wildflowers in barefeet. The snow-covered roads melted away and the white-outs conditions disappeared.
Mind over matter: if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
I put my speed on 40 km/h and by 2:50 am, I was pulling into my driveway, safe and sound with no extra worry lines.
Although skill has a lot to do with arriving home safely in a snow storm, there are many things that contribute to success: good winter tires, a well-operating vehicle, proper windshield wipers, winter boots and mitts in the back seat and a cell phone just in case.
Writing is a lot like driving in a snow storm. Some skill is needed, but other things contribute to success: a good dictionary, an eagerness to learn, a willingness to accept advice, books on various aspects of writing, keen eyes and ears, ability to wear another’s shoes, endurance, writing groups and workshops.
Not everyone begins with all these items in their tickle trunk, and for even those who do, they may not find the ability to write consistently. However, by utilizing these tools over and over again, a writer conditions himself to write more and more often. Whereas writing two hours a week may have seemed daunting, after a period of condition, a writer may write two hours a day without breaking a sweat.
Training to hike ten miles, learning to drive through snow storms and writing regularly every day is all in the condition.