How Bad Do You Want It?

I have goals. They go hand in hand with my dream. My dream is to write for a living. Amazing how many friends and acquaintances are under the assumption that because I'm multi-published and contracted for five more books that I'm raking in the bucks. I'm a published author. My books are on the shelves. Therefore I must be making the same money as Stephen King or John Grisham or <insert any well known author>. *Cough* I wish. The fact is, I still have to work a regular gig to pay the bills. Here's a shocker. Most authors do. How can that be? you ask. J.A. Konrath has an eye-opening post on writers and 'Money'. Check it out.

So back to my goal. In order to make a living as a writer, I need to write quality material and sell it . . . as much of it and as often as humanly possible. Publishers want prolific writers. The public wants prolific writers. I remember, before I started down the publishing path, finishing a fantastic novel by one of my favorite authors and moaning when I learned her next book wouldn't be out for another whole year? "Why?" I whined. "Why do I have to wait so long?" I had no understanding of the writing process or the publishing industry. I suppose I thought she sat down at her typewriter and cranked out a book in a couple of months. I mean it's only 350 pages and it's what she does for a living, how hard could it be?

Now I know.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Goals. So, in a bid to build name recognition and to establish myself in the market, last year I set a goal of writing single-title books for two publishing houses. With the help of my amazing agent, I met that goal. I'm now writing for Medallion Press and Harlequin's HQN. This means writing two books a year. Okay. Six months to write each book. No problem. I've done it before. Only it doesn't really work out to six months. In that time you are also handling promotion for your latest release with Publisher A, writing a synopsis for the next contracted book with Publisher B, researching for the next contracted book for Publisher A, and doing revisions on a book for Publisher B. Oh, and let's not forget the bill paying job and daily life responsibilities.

*Deep breath*

I'd been chugging along with only a few freak-out, stressed-to-the-max moments. That is until this month. My brain shut down. I'm not blocked. Just tired. Unfocused and easily distracted. I've decided not to beat myself up about it. It would only make matters worse. Instead, I'm trusting my process. I work well in chaos. I'm anal and refuse to miss a deadline. So the synopsis that I had 30 days to write, I will now write in 10. The next book that I had 6 months to write, I will now write in 4. Sure, I'll bite off my fingernails and experience some hair loss, but I'll do it. I'll push myself. I'll give up whatever I have to to get it done. Why?


I want to make my living as a writer. Rather, I want to make a living doing what I love: Writing. This means working hard and paying dues (and I'm not talking the writers' organization kind). I'm not whining, I'm just telling it like it is. There was a time when I thought the hardest part was landing that first publishing contract. Yeah, boy, that was a tough nut to crack. But it was only the beginning. If you want a career in publishing be prepared to work hard and to make a lot of sacrifices. It all boils down to, how bad do you want it? Me? I want it bad.

"The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become." ~~ Charles Du Bos


roni said…
You'll do it, too, Beth! I have no doubts. Some people do work best with close deadlines. (I'm not one of them). You're succeeding already, and I know you'll continue. Yay Beth!
FeyRhi said…
You completely rock Beth. You can be so completely stressed out and still manage to take it in stride and teach us something at the same time.
Bob said…
I know people who go through the same stress on a regular basis. College classes was a big one. Every new class the instructor was worse, the workload was heavier. But in the end, this particular person always passed with honors. You seem like that person.

And speaking from a few who are trying to crack the contract nut, I'd love to have your "problems." :-)
Tori Lennox said…
What a fabulous post, Beth!
Mary Stella said…
Beth, if you didn't create so beautifully during your stressful moments, I'd be worried. However, I know you, my friend. You'll make your deadlines and the books will be terrific!
Cyn said…
B, just like Mary, I know you too. You will pick up right where you left off just when you need to. You're smart to have let your mind rest a little. It is probably almost done refilling for the next big burst!

You will do everything you set your mind to, because, ahem, you have already done everything I know that you've set it to. I know it's only a matter of a short time before you will be only writing. I also know that you will keep setting your bar higher and you will reach it every time.

Thanks for being an inspiration! :-)
Bethany said…
Hee, hee. We must be on the same brain wave today (even though I said) I wasn't going to post. Ha!

It's called resiliance. We both got it girl... and in this business it is a good thing. Though you are leagues ahead of me in obtaining the goal. :-)

But it feels SO nice to talk about it a little doesn't it?
Gabriele C. said…
I admit I'm a bit less ambitious. I want my books to be read. I hope to be able to achieve that via traditional publishing and establish a fanbase that makes me a predicable author who has a new big historical novel out every other year which sells in a calculabe number. Like German writer Rebecca Gablé.

Since I'm working on several projects at the same time, I could even knock out one every year for the first 3-4 years to get a start.

Of course that means I'll never be able to live of my writing. But doorstopper historical novels aren't the sort of book you can knock out twice a year, and yet, it's what I want to write.

Good luck with your plans.
Julia Templeton said…
Beth, you're working hard toward that goal of being a full-time writer and will be there before you know it. Probably before you expect it ;). You're a master at juggling, and I know you'll make those deadlines...and attain your goals at the same time. Take a deep breath, enjoy your vacation and come home re-energized!
Beth Ciotta said…
Roni, thank you for the cheer of support. The deadline crunch makes me cranky, but oddly, I do think it's when some of my most inspired writing takes place. When do you feel you are at 'your best'? Curious.

FeyRhi, you're making me blush. I din't have a blushing smiley here, so you'll have to use your imagination. :) I'm glad, very glad, that you find my posts helpful at times.
Beth Ciotta said…
Okay. I really need to check my spelling before hitting submit. *Sigh* That was supposed to be don't not din't.

Bob, I sincerely wish my problems on you. :) Actually, you're right, if a writer has to have problems, mine aren't bad one to have. Unless you don't do well under pressure... then you don't want to walk in my shoes. Again I wasn't whining, just painting a realistic picture. Before I got 'here,' I had no idea it would be like 'this'. Not that I'm complaining. :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Tori, thrilled to see you as always!

Waving to all three of my critique partners... Mary, Cyndi, and Julie! You've been my rocks through many a stressful deadline. I haven't scared you off yet. :) Mary says to Beth, "We go through this every time." Heh-heh. Cyndi, that thing about setting the bar higher... I hadn't thought about it, but no doubt I will! Julie, my vaca is almost here! I'll blog about it tomorrow!
roni said…
You asked when I feel I am at my best (I guess you mean writing wise). I like to pace myself, and I usually try to. Then, near the end of the book, I find myself pushing because I am so caught up in the story, and so excited, and that's when I write more. I also feel my best when I get a good night's sleep!!! (Sometimes difficult when you're going through menopause). I am definitely cranky when my sleep is interrupted or I haven't gotten enough!
Beth Ciotta said…
Bethany, what are you doing here? You're supposed to be resting. Well, either that or doing rewrites. :) How much more do have left? Are you dealing with a deadline yet? On your fiction writing I mean. I know your day job must throw you deadlines all the time. plus you have a wee one. I don't know how you do it. Rock on, woman!

Doorstopper historical novel. I've never heard it put like that, Gabriele. LOL I do hear you though. I think Scott Oden and I had a similar discussion before. The diffence in the kind of writing we do. With all the intense research involved plus the story length, I'm amazed that you can tackle even one novel per year. Hat's off to you and best of luck!
Gabriele C. said…
Thanks Beth. I think it's one of the advantages of working on several projects right now because whatever will be finished first (The Charioteer or Storm over Hadrian's Wall) can be followed by three more books in various stages of progress which I probably could finish within a year each.

Either I'll have learned how to write a big historical novel in a year until then or I'll have readers willing to wait two years. Gablé surely has - of course I'd like her books to appear in shorter intervals but I know amount of research and planning involved in a 900 page behemoth.
Beth Ciotta said…
Roni, thank you for sharing your process. Your way sounds much healthier than my way. I usually start out at a steady pace. At least it seems steady. Then I get sidetracked by other obligations, slowing progress and making the homestretch a real crunch. I don't like that stressed I'll-never-finish-in-time feeling, but I always make it, and there's a raw energy to that particular writing. Dues to slepp deprivation, perhaps? :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Ah, crud. That was supposed to be SLEEP. Sheesh.

Gabriele, again, I'm in awe. Love the two titles you named. Also quite fond of your avitar. ;) You mentioned a 900 page novel. I can't imagine tackling something of that length. Although the way I ramble... Heh. Anyway, how long do your novels run? Curious.
Gabriele C. said…
Beth, I'm not entirely sure about the ones I mentioned. I could write 900 page tomes I bet, but they aren't what publishers look for in a beginner, so I aim for something between 130-150K for the Roman series and 150-170K for the Medieaval saga. If a publisher goes with it, I can write longer ones later. *grin*

Lol, the verification word made me giggls: kleve is actually a town in Germany, and my aunt lives there.
Bob said…
Farleigh-Hungerford Castle, somewhere near Bath, I think, is where some of my relatives say our kinfolk lived back in the days after the Norman Conquest. As badly as some of the family wants to be Irish, it's looking more and more like we're French. They've really let the place go these past few hundred years. I've never been there, but hope to someday.

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