Let me tell you a story…
You probably think I’m going to tell you I started writing at a young age, and I’ve written ever since, blah blah blah blah.
I’ve written poetry over the years (a lot of it bad, most of it angsty, and always when I’m in class, or at work, or any place that isn’t at home). But stories? Not so much. Sometimes I’d sit down and pound out a few paragraphs or pages and then abandon it because I couldn’t think of what else to write. Follow through wasn’t my strong suit, and honestly, until I’d completed my CEBS (a designation completely unnecessary for my current job but an absolute must if I want to find a better position) I’d yet to finish anything I voluntarily signed up for (my college degree doesn’t count.)
Then I read an article in Wired magazine about a guy that disappeared from his life and resurfaced as someone else entirely, just to see if he could and not get caught, and A Lesson in Vanishing was born. It took me a little over a year to write 25,000 words, but it was the first story (not a poem, or an essay, or research paper) I’d completed. I was pretty damn proud of myself.
Why do I write (romance)?
Because the voices in my head won’t shut up otherwise? I don’t really know. All I can tell you is now that I’ve started, it’s a compulsion. A sickness. An addiction. I tell myself to stop for a while, and maybe I will, for a week, and then I’m right back in the middle of it.
Why do I write romance and urban fantasy? I didn’t intend to. Vanishing certainly didn’t start out as a romance. But I write in those genres because it’s entertaining. If I’m going to devote so much of my free time (of which I have little, mind you) to something that can be exhausting, painful, and annoying, I must be entertained. Greatly entertained. Frankly, there’s little point in doing something you don’t get paid for if it’s not fun.
I want to offer a reader a chance to escape. I want them to laugh, cry, and curse me, preferably all within the same story. I got the best compliment the other day. I was hanging out with my friend Katie, who’d I’d given a copy of Not About Love to. She told me she’d gotten only a few pages in when she thought, Amanda’s telling me a story.
Totally made my day.
So yeah, that’s what I want. I want you feel like I’m telling you a story.
What’s the point of all this?
Again, I don’t really know. Some people write for the pleasure of it. Some write with the lofty goal of becoming the next James Patterson and making oodles of money and landing on the best seller list every time one of your books comes out.
I lied. I do know the point of all this. I’d like to be published. It’d sure be nice to say, hey, you can go pick my book up at (insert large bookstore chain name here). Will I make any money at it? Maybe a little. Will it be enough to live off? Absolutely not. I have no illusions of fame and fortune when it comes to writing. If that was my goal, I’d be searching for the cure to the common cold instead.
A former colleague of mine once told me the number of published writers out there is small. Very small. The number of published writers who live off what they earn from writing? Even smaller. Quite daunting, if you think about it, and it’s not surprising a number of people have chosen to go the self-published route instead.
I could, I suppose. I have nothing against self-published authors. I’m willing to bet some of them are actually pretty good. The problem with self-publishing, though, is in addition to having to do all the marketing and promotion yourself, you have to print the damn thing. Even though I’ve been out of college almost ten years, I’m still in poor student mode (and probably will be for quite some time) and fronting the cost of having something printed, even if it’s only in ebook format, just isn’t in the budget.
In the end, for me, it’s not about the money. I’m perfectly fine with having to work for a living for the rest of my life. No, it’s about the recognition. The tiny part of me that says “Look at me! Me! Me! ME! ME!” gets louder with each passing year, and I figure the only way to get it to shut up, at least temporarily, is to have an ISBN of my very own.