Thursday, April 13, 2006

A New Year

I'm entering the fourth year of my efforts to treat writing as a job; I'm glad it's not an actual job or I would have been fired long ago.

My decision to start in April had more to do with the time of year that the idea occurred to me than with the fact that my real job's fiscal year starts at that time (hence my lack of postings over the past few weeks--this is a very busy time for me).

I'm not concerned that I haven't made any money yet--most businesses don't make any money in their first years--but I am approaching that 7-year break-even mark and I'm currently about £1,000 in the red. It has not escaped my notice that I made more money when I was operating in a more haphazard way (even writing sporadically I managed to sell articles to some local and regional publications) but having a focus has helped shaped my business plan, so to speak.

What prompted the decision in the first place was the fact that I used to sell the odd article when I was living in the US but couldn't seem to duplicate that success in the UK. So in Year One, I continued to write humorous articles on British life and attempted to find markets for them.

By the start of Year Two, I had learned that no one in the US gives a shit about life in Britain and the people in the UK already know about it. The discouragement came, not from the number of rejections, but from the lack of them, due to an absolute dearth of markets for the type of articles I write. So I decided to try novels again, on the assumption that I could at least find agents and publishers to send them to once they were finished.

At the start of Year Three I had the first draft of a novel completed and had amassed enough humorous essays to make into a book.

Now, as Year Four begins, the book of essays has been compiled, re-worked, polished, re-worked, polished again and is currently making the rounds. Five rejections so far; a good start. The novel is undergoing a long-overdue re-write and I'm striving to up my word-count and 'time on the job.'

Thanks to Joe's recent challenge to submit a story within the week, I have had it driven home to me yet again that there are no markets for my articles, essays or stories, which is why I switched to novels in the first place.

So I am starting year four with one manuscript (that I am rather pleased with) in search of an agent, and another (that I am not) undergoing major surgery to see if I can salvage anything from it, even if it's just the opportunity of learning from my mistakes.

What about you? Did you ever 'decide' to be a writer or has it just crept up on you? Do you have a business plan or do you just write and hope?

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