You mean, when did I take writing seriously and try to write on a regular basis? ;-)
I started in January 2008. I had wrote a few things over the years before that, and had really wanted to be a writer. Inspiration came and went. I remember when I first saw Troy in 2004, I was so pumped up on Greek myth that I dashed out four tales in a month, totaling 75K. Then I didn’t write again for many months. Funny thing is, at that time I mostly wanted to write historical fiction.
But 2008 was the real beginning. That year I wrote a total of 180K, which seemed like a lot to me at the time. My largest yearly total so far is 2010 for 537K (but I was unemployed that entire year). Last year was abysmal, with only 22K in new fiction, but I spent literally months on revising three different novels (Inheritance alone took altogether three months for revisions). This year I’m currently at 144K, but I’ve revised those same three novels once more each (more like polish passes) and I’m gearing up to revise Progeny very soon.
My tally so far is 7 novels, 5 novellas, 18 novelettes, 188 short stories, and 10 flash pieces. Last count was 1,768,086 words of fiction. If you add other things I’ve written (I once tried to create an RPG many years ago), then that total goes up to 2,660,319 words.
Now, this may all sound like I’m super-focused on wordcount, or that I’m bragging. That isn’t the case. I keep a spreadsheet updated with all this data, as a constant reminder of what I’ve accomplished, and how much more I can accomplish if I stay the course. I never dreamed I would write all this material, or stick with it for so long. This is my sixth full year of writing; from what I gather many writers never get that far. They get frustrated, lose confidence, or procrastinate. They give up.
I currently have 431 short story rejections and I have sent out 109 novel queries that produced nothing. I have over 100 personal rejections; many of them from the pro markets. I’m not proud of these numbers, but I’m a veteran. The worst rejection said my writing was ‘like an arrest warrant with literary pretensions’. If I ever get rich, I will have a plaque that says that hanging in my library ;-)
I’ve had fifteen tales published in fifteen different markets. Heh, my biggest paycheck for any of them was $40 and a contributor’s copy. Total earnings from all my sales? $242.50 and 8 contributor’s copies (and one audio file). I only let one go for free, because I was so desperate for writing credits at that time. I still have copies of my contracts; even scanned the checks I was sent before I cashed them. Just more reminders of what I’ve done, and what I might do.
So sometimes it seems like editors really don’t understand what it means to get a pro sale. And sometimes writers like me expect the genre intelligentsia to enjoy a story that features action, vulgar language, and nihilism. If only I’d been writing in 1930, or 1980…I think the pulp or cyberpunk crowd would’ve loved me in the initial stages of those sub-genres.
There is never enough time to write. I really wish the human body/mind didn’t require sleep, so I could have more hours to pound away without mercy at these plastic keys. Ideally I try to write one new piece a week. If I’m writing the first draft of a novel, I write at least one chapter (which for me is at least 3K in the early stage) every day until it’s finished. I work on no other projects; not even critiques if I can help it.
What keeps me going? I have a hell of a lot more to say, that’s what. I know my best work hasn’t been written yet; I know there’s greater stories inside me, I just have to keep channeling them from my mind to that blank word processor screen in what amounts to a synergy of organic fancy and electronic realization. I still get excited about new projects, and I remain excited about these novels that are about to be sent out to agents. Kivita still has more transmissions to send, Blake still has a Tarot card up his sleeve, Roxie still has a few Cinn tabs left, Alessandro still has unfulfilled contracts in Hell, and Jhadar’s purse and heart remain empty. Only I can help them.
At least these days I get more praise than disdain from fellow writers (such as yourself), readers, and editors. My goal is a writing career, but not necessarily millions of dollars, fame, or writing a ‘classic’. If people are still reading about Shekelor, Samuqan, and Rourke after I’m dead, then I’ve accomplished something.