It can take many years of hard work to become a 'successful' writer and there is still no guarantee that all that labor will lead to success. I am a year into the post publishing process and it has grown increasingly apparent that I still have a lot of work to do.
I originally started writing because of an interesting dream my sister had when we were kids. My imagination kicked into high gear as she related the dream to me and I started forming a story in my mind. I managed to write part of it down on notebook paper when I was about thirteen. When I was sixteen, I typed the first ten pages of that story on a rusty, manual typewriter before I was hampered further by my first experience with writers block. Years later college level English dropped me into the deep end of the creative writing pool when I barely knew how to dog paddle. Though it was difficult, and sometimes frustrating, I re-discovered that I actually liked writing.
I graduated from college and started jotting down the occasional story idea but had trouble moving beyond the idea phase. Sometimes they weren't original; others just fizzled; and some just wouldn't blossom beyond the note writing stage. I knew I was interested in writing a book but every time I tried to start a story I could not seem to get beyond ... just starting. At that time, it didn't occur to me that some of those ideas were better short stories. After reading some material about Jupiter's moon Europa the idea of setting a story there intrigued me. I believed I finally had a story idea with which I could go the distance.
I had a rough time completing "Europa"; it took seven years from start to finish. Then there was the additional two years it took to find a publisher. After I signed with the publisher, the editors said I had to do a rewrite that forced me to cut 150 pages from the original story; the process took another four months. The story and grammar edits were eight months in the making before the first copy was even printed and yet another three months before the book was actually released.
I have seen only modest sales of my book and I consider each sale a small victory. As I have marketed myself and the book over the past year or so, I've had to learn how to talk to new people better and for much longer periods of time. That has been tough for an introvert like myself. It is difficult to put yourself out there and sell something you spent so much time creating (a low estimate of the time I spent on Europa is 1500 hours). I have also, reluctantly, given up the dream of getting ahead financially through book sales. However, in doing so I was reminded money and fame were never factors that motivated me to start writing.
"Why bother with all this?" you might ask. I've asked myself the same question for the last eleven years. I write because I consider it a calling of sorts. I enjoy having a creative outlet and conjuring images with words. The world is in desperate need of good books. I want to produce excellent, well-written stories that depict the protagonists acting justly, in spite of the occasional flaw. I want, through my stories, to encourage people young and old to stand their ground even in the moral relevance philosophy of this current culture. To quote C.S. Lewis, I want to write "the right kinds of books."
I am not entirely sure where writing will lead me. I don't know if I will change genres, writing styles or how many books I will write. I will continue to grow and improve as a writer and for now I am going to keep working on The Black Chronicles. Whatever may come, I have no intention of quitting.