Monday, June 25, 2012

Diets and Discipline

I'm one of those people.

I decide to try to start losing weight. I eat right for a few days and lose a couple pounds. Then I think, "Gosh, that was easy! I don't have to try so hard! It's OK if I slack off just this one time for some cake, because it'll be so easy for me to lose the weight again!" So I have some cake. And then some ice cream. And then some ribs. And suddenly I've gained those couple pounds back, plus a few more.

I do the same thing in other aspects of my life. I'll clean one room of the house before getting distracted and meandering off to play on Facebook (after all, it's not that dirty!); I'll start too many projects at once while I'm at work and get distracted by the least important one; or I'll look at how little I have left to edit and think "gosh, it won't take me that long at all! I think I'll read some more articles about the origins of lint online..."

Really, isn't the Internet a beautiful horrible vast gaping hole of time-wasting crazy thing?

Well, fortunately I haven't quite slide into the depths of life-wasting apathy yet. I still want to weigh 135 pounds. I still want to be a writer when I (manage to not) grow up. I still want to live in a condo that doesn't resemble a crack den. So stuff gets done.

Today, for example. Today I hit "send" to a couple folks who were kind enough to offer a bit of editing input. This was a big step. Honestly, I was getting worried I wouldn't let anyone else read my book unless they either hacked it off of my computer or pried it out of my cold dead hands. Which would be weird, given I'm not famous or anything yet.

I still have a lot to do. I need a cover. I need to edit again. I need to decide how on earth I'm going to market this thing. I need to decide if it's really interesting enough to publish. Then I need to get over it and just go for broke. Also, I need to stop fantasizing about cake.

But now, I need to sleep. Good night friends.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

New Day, New Blog, and Pen Names

June 8th has come and gone. I've been fortunate to receive some offers from some supportive friends to help me with the editing process, which I'll shortly be taking them up on. I'll be making some tweaks to this site now that I'm setting out on my official journey as an indie author. It doesn't quite feel real yet, but I know I'm headed towards something exciting.

My first step has been to pick a pen name for myself. I think this is essential, even if the trail back to my real name isn't exactly well-hidden (No, seriously, I know you all know who I am; I'm OK with it... for now...bwhaha... ahem). Given my other job, though, it's probably for the best for the time being.

I have agonized over this decision for a long time. I've been playing around with different names, reading lists, bouncing ideas off of my hubby, Googling likely combinations. The trick is to pick something that doesn't seem too hokey but is still relatively interesting and uncommon. I'm already cursed with a first name that can be spelled way too many ways - Stacy, Stacey, Staci, Stacie, take your pick. But there had to be an option out there that would work.

Let me just say, though, there do seem to be a lot of shady creatures out there with the first name Stacy/Stacey/etc. I mean wow. Google is really a blessing for inspiration. Or finding scary people that you may or may not be related to.

So, I'm proud to announce that my official writing name from this day hence shall be: Stacy Xavier.

One of the reasons this sprang into my brain has to do with X-Men. No, not really, although I do like X-Men. Alright, really it had to do with the fact that I kept NOT finding a pen name I liked, so I started thinking of my name as "Stacy X" with X being an unknown variable I had yet to define. The rest was just a logical progression from there.

Do you have a pen name? How'd you pick it? How do you pick names in general when you write? I keep a baby book by my desk for quick inspiration, but are there other resources you find useful?

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Pact: Did It Work? And, A Request for Recommendations

Well, for those who were paying attention to our "Terms" page know that today should be the day that three novelists each finished the first drafts of their books and exchanged them for editing and critiquing purposes.

I will be finished with my final round of self-editing tonight. I have 8000 more words to edit and one more scene to add to round out the story, and since I know where I'm headed, I'm about 99% certain I'll have it wrapped up before midnight (barring some unusual catastrophe).

Unfortunately, I don't think my compatriots are quite in the same spot. And I understand. Half the posts I've written on this blog have been about how life is tough, and it's difficult to be a writer + something else and succeed at both. Usually it's the writing that ends up suffering. Which, when you have a life, a job, a family, bills to pay, etc, it's hard to ignore the fact that it tends to come across as a leisure activity, and is therefore less important.

I am a lucky woman. While I have an exceptionally time-consuming job (introduce me to a lawyer that doesn't), I also have a husband that believes in my writing. He has picked up the slack for the last several months, keeping our place clean and letting me have my space so I can plough on towards this goal. He tells me time and again how much he thinks I'm going to succeed at this, that I need to make it a priority, that it is going to pay off in the long run. I want a family, but I don't have one yet, and when you're pursuing an endeavor like writing-on-the-side, that tends to work to your advantage.

So. I'm almost done self-editing. Sadly, but understandingly, the writers I started this challenge with probably aren't in a position to take up hours of their time with critiquing my book while getting nothing in return from me. It's a little bit of a quandary. I know I'm not ready to hit "publish" yet, I don't even have a cover, but I think I need some editing services. Or at least a couple people to read my book and provide an opinion (and maybe a couple typo corrections).

I'm aware there are tons of editors out there that I can hire. And I'm more than willing to do so. But not without a suggestion. If anyone has any recommendations, I'm all ears.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Where have you built equity?

This is not a blog post about investing money. Well, at least not directly. Investment often requires some kind of monetary expense. But really, what I'm contemplating is the more important investment - how you invest your time. In other words, how you've invested in yourself.

Money is a great example of what I'm talking about, though. I think everyone dreams about a bigger bank account, in some way or another. But to do that, you have to start with that first few bucks that you stash away.

The same is true with your career. There are the people we envision have made it big overnight. Some people may even have that good fortune. But take any successful person you wish to emulate, and if you really listen to their story, you'll find that they had to spend some not insignificant amount of time building equity in their chosen calling. The kids who made it big at 18 spent most of their teen years learning programming languages, watching their peers set trends, or just generally putting time and energy into what they wanted to do instead of engaging in under-aged drinking or other teenage antics. By the time they were ready to graduate from high school, they'd perhaps spent 2 to 4 years already taking action on what they wanted to do in life.

It takes a special kind of focus and drive to do that at a young age. It takes a really special amount of focus and drive to do that as you get older. You take on responsibilities - a family, a mortgage. What you wanted to spend your time on and how you earn a living have become two entirely different things.  After all, you write because you love it, not because you want to earn money off of it.

But what if we realized that we could build equity in a career writing, or making art, just as we can in any other career, and that it could potentially end up paying off? One trap I've fallen into time and again with any business idea I try to create is that if I don't get an immediate payoff, I'm a failure, it didn't work, it's time to start over again. How many people might end up feeling that way about their first book? I know that's something that terrifies me. What if I publish this novel that I've been putting my time, heart, and effort into, and it doesn't go anywhere? 

And that's when it helps to remember that this is only the first step in a longer journey - a bigger career. It isn't a matter of clicking "publish" but what happens leading up to that, and what happens following that, which determines where you'll end up. It's the same in any career. There are a few people I know of that got the office in the sky with the six-figure salary after graduating law school (which may or may not be the blessing it seems), but most of the attorneys I know that are making the money and getting the cases in the fields they want to work in are those that stuck with it through the grunt work in the early years. The writers that are successful - whether Indie or not - are those that stuck with it after a flop, or have been writing for years and improving their craft until they got to where they wanted to be.

So, where have you built your equity?