A Writer’s Journey: Part 1

A Writer’s Journey: Part 1– The First Payment

There comes a time in many a writer’s life when they feel that a debt is owed. For some, that time does not come until late in their careers and for others – like myself – it comes at the start, when you begin to feel that a debt is owed. Owed in part to those who came before you and might have passed down some advice (through “on writing” books, classes or correspondence) and to those who will come after you. Perhaps I am being presumptuous to assume I have anything useful to add on the subject so early on in what will hopefully blossom into a career but I find I have already started to get asked the question of what advice I would offer new writers.

I am at a point where I have roughly between 25 and 30 short manuscripts accepted or published, a decent entrance into the field for roughly three years of actual submitting, a 20% ratio that I am proud of and I wouldn’t have gotten that far if not for the help of other writers who have offered their advice or opinion. The most recent such person was Nate Kenyon who kindly took the time to allay some of my fears as I enter a new stage in my writing. He didn’t need to, as I am sure he is a busy man with his second novel out, the first being the Stoker nominated BLOODSTONE, which I highly recommend to anyone needing a lesson in solid pacing. Another writer who offered me excellent advice about the value of professional organizations was Jonathan Maberry, whose three books dealing with the town of Pine Deep will appeal to readers that enjoy an 80s style horror epic that tickles the nostalgia bone with a dose of the blues and a horde of classic monsters. There have been others. People I never would have thought could have found the time of day to talk to a newbie fledgling who asked them the same questions they get asked at every convention and writer’s talk. But they did. More often than not, my messages were responded to within no more than a couple of days. It gave me a sense of community to have them share their knowledge with me. I cannot thank them enough. I cannot respect them enough.

I’ve developed friendships online with writers that I would otherwise never have the chance to meet as funds don’t exactly allow me to travel to the UK or even out to Manitoba (if you’re reading this, you know who you are) and that adds to the feeling that I’m not alone in my struggles to do what I’ve wanted to do since I was a ten-year old boy with dreams of grandeur. We help each other when we can and as time and health allows. We call on each other when we think something might be right for someone. I worked on a great little collaboration novel called THE EDWARD BALLISTER PROJECT as a result of this kind of friendship. I also think I receive entirely too high of praise for my contribution to it. I was just having a good time with a wonderful basis for a story. This kind of friendship developed after I submitted to another equally ambitious and fruitful anthology called COURTING MORPHEUS and I’ve been very proud to be included in its offspring, THE NEW BEDLAM PROJECT, an e-zine that has already attracted some high caliber writers to its streets.

I wouldn’t trade any of these friendships for the chance to get published. Without them I wouldn’t be as far down this road as I am. I’ve witnessed more than a few writers stab others in the back over false allegations in the hope of bettering their own chances. I’m not that kind of person and I wouldn’t suggest that any new writer take that way either. Rejection is a fact of this life. For every two stories I send out that get picked up, I have another eight-to-ten passed on. Form rejections suck. But I understand from the editor’s viewpoint how hard it can be to give a personal response to everyone. It isn’t always like that though and the first personal note you get is a good feeling and as more come rolling in with hand scribbled notes or full-out explanations of why it wasn’t right for them you can mark your progress as a writer. Sometimes the waiting is the worst thing. I have two stories out there right now going on nearly a year of hanging in the ether. I hope they don’t, but if they get rejected, I’ll go over them again and then submit them somewhere else and start the waiting game again.

Joining writer’s groups can help you get over these setbacks. You’ll hear other writers tell you about their rejections or acceptances and that helps a huge amount, believe me. Graveside Tales’ forum has been my favorite. There is a talented and caring pool of people there. Many, I call friends. They are also the kind of people who are happy to share news of new markets that open up. They have gone and read my work (as I have theirs) and offered critiques as well as encouragement. They give me a laugh when I need it. After my wife and my mother, they are the first people to hear my good news and bad news.

The point is, without friends in this business and the kindness of others it can get very lonely, very quick. My first step in paying my debts is to offer this advice to new writers:

Network through sites like MySpace, Facebook and writer’s forums.

Be respectful to your fellow writers.

Be a friend because next time you might be the one who needs one.

Providing my health doesn’t limit me too much (update on that at the bottom of this entry) I’ll hopefully be able to keep posting about the good and bad choices I’ve made on my journey along with passing on the advice I’ve learned and been given. I’m starting to submit novels now so I’m pretty sure I’ll have a lot of material to gripe… erm… talk about in the near future.

Take care friends,


Update: The results came back from my most recent test and they found basically nothing. I’ve been told that the abdominal bleeding I’ve been having for the past four years has been caused by a fissure in my bowels that won’t close, even though to my knowledge it was never noticed in any of the four previous scopes I had done, despite the fact I had been bleeding the day before the procedures. The ulcers they thought they saw with pill cam seem to have disappeared. Which means they aren’t sure if they were there or not. They want to pump me full of iron through IV to fix the anemia problem despite not having the results from the Hemochromotosis gene mapping tests, which could prove very serious and possibly fatal if I have that iron storing disorder. I’ve also been told that the severe pain I’ve experienced has been caused by overactive nerves along my Gastro-intestinal system. So they have talked about proscribing an simple old-fashioned anti-depressant to calm them down as they believe it is a neuro-logical issue. The gist is; they still don’t really know why this is happening, they don’t have a name for it, there are no answers and it has been explained to me that this will most likely never go away. In other words; this is my life, get used to it. I think that sucks worse than a form rejection. And it took six doctors to come to this conclusion.

My family hates this situation as much as I do but I am blessed. Truly. If this is the price I have to pay to enjoy the luck of having such wonderful people in my life… it’s worth it. Now I just have to figure out a way to pay the bills, lol.


2 Responses to “A Writer’s Journey: Part 1”

  1. Brandon I know I am late on this but I think column is going to be a great one. In fact I sent you email about it.

    Keep at it brother !!!

    • And a nice e-mail it was. I’m glad you like the column Dale. I’m looking to keep this thing going for a while, adding on as I learn throughout my journey. Maybe one day I’ll make a book out of it, lol.

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