Hobby? Not Any More

Hard to believe, but Land That I Love has been out for over a year now. While thumping it, I served on panels at conventions in Baltimore, Albany, Washington, Boston and Long Island. I did readings at smaller functions on the Island and also in Manhattan. I put in appearances as part of the paying public at cons in Westchester as well as Boston and Long Island. I’ve gone into Manhattan at least half a dozen times to attend readings and signings by other authors, ranging from Catherynne Valente to Lemony Snicket.

So I’ve got my face out there as well as my name. I have a 254-page business card that says I can write a novel. So it’s time to start taking this seriously.

My crit partner Jake Packard pointed out that, at this past weekend’s I-Con, I used the term “hobby” more than once to describe my relationship to genre writing. For tax reasons, I’m 100% right in using that word; I earn a living at my corporate day job and have a nice, little side business doing financial journalism, which pays much better per-word than fiction ever will. The royalties I get from LTIL are unlikely to ever pay back the travel expenses I racked up going to cons over the past 13 months. If I were to have written off those expenses on my 2010 IRS forms, I’d have been begging for an audit. The same is going to apply for 2011.

But Jake is right in that I need to get that bothersome fact out of my head. It’s time to get serious. All the people I’ve met since this journey began — all the big-name authors who have inspired me, all the mid-listers who may be in a position to introduce me to the people who helped them find their ways into the pro ranks, all the fifteen-percenters, all the publishing honchos — wouldn’t be in a position to help me right now even if they wanted to. I simply don’t have a big enough body of work.

So that’s what I’m starting on now.

Step 1: Finish Mighty Mighty already. The first draft is a half chapter away from completion.  Then do a second draft, and don’t take more than two weeks to do it. Then send that second draft out to the volunteers who kindly agreed to be my beta readers. While they’re looking it over, network and hobnob and get the first three chapters into as many hands as possible in the publishing world.

Step 2: Work on my short game. Part of the reason nobody has read my stuff is that I don’t have anything in the anthos or magazines. That mainly because I prefer to write in long form. But if I’m going to break into genre fiction, I’d better start pounding out some stuff in the 3,000- to 5,000-word range to get it into the kind of markets that the genre-fiction scenesters read.

Step 3: Ya know, steps 1 and 2 are about all I can handle right now.

In the meantime, please check the blog roll for the link to Suvudu, the DelRey/Spectra site run by webmaster David Pomerico and, if you’re interested in my report from I-Con 30, view my vlog on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvkQmntnEPg

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