Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Love of Writing

Today, my guest is Kris Bock, who writes romantic suspense with Southwestern landscapes and outdoor adventures. As Chris Eboch, she writes children’s books, include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery set in ancient Egypt; and The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan historical adventure. Here she discusses what it really means to be a full-time professional writer.

Leave a comment today and Kris will pick one lucky person to win an electronic copy of RATTLED (your choice of PDF or e-book file) and another person to win an electronic copy of her children's mystery THE EYES OF PHARAOH. Note in your comment which you would prefer.

And while Kris is here, I'm over at Savvy Authors talking about my upcoming workshop on dialogue.

Welcome, Kris.

People who are not writers may have the idea that writers spend most of their time writing. I suppose some lucky ones do. But I realized at the end of March that I hadn’t been working on a new novel for three months. In December, January, and February, I had edited two novels, published two books, started publicizing those books, written a few articles, done dozens of critiques, taught two four-week classes, and attended two conferences. I had been as busy as ever in my life, but I hadn’t been writing new work.

Publicity is important—if people don’t read my books, I won’t sell enough to be able to keep writing them. But if I don’t create new books, I won’t have anything to promote. All those other writing-related jobs are important too—teaching, paid critiques, writing articles—because some (most) years they pay more of the bills than novel sales do. I do enjoy helping other people get closer to publication, too.

But I don’t want to be a teacher first. I want to be a writer first. That means finding the time to write.

On March 29, I sat down to start a new novel. Boy, did it feel good! I got about 700 words out in one nice flow. That’s not all that many, for me. When I was writing my middle grade Haunted series about a brother and sister who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, I tried to write a chapter a day -- about 1500 words.

I wrote the first draft of my romantic suspense novel Rattled at a rate of 10,000 words per week. That required a lot of discipline and many hours of writing each day, but I was targeting 85,000 words and didn't want the project to stretch out over a year. Since I don't have a “real job” I can't afford to spend a year on one project that won't make money until after I'm done.

After starting my latest work in progress, I tried to make sure I wrote in the morning and saved all my other writing-related chores for the afternoon, when my energy drops and I find it hard to be creative. Putting the novel first also means I wrote at least a thousand words each day, even when I had paid jobs and deadlines ready to distract me. I'm nowhere near a 10,000-words-per-week pace yet, not with seven article deadlines in the next three months and 5 to 15 hours of critiques to do every week, but I am making progress.

The stereotypes about being a professional writer are wrong, for me and most writers. No starving in lonely garrets, and certainly no easy life of becoming rich and famous while working only when we want. Writing—especially if you want to write well and convince people to buy your books—requires hard work and discipline and often other sources of income.

But it is also a joy. Doing the writing I love helps me stay sane when I spend the rest of my time scrambling to finish jobs for other people. Life is about priorities. The things we love should be at the top of the list.

Rattled, by Kris Bock, brings romantic suspense to the dramatic and deadly New Mexico desert. Read the first three chapters at www.krisbock.com or buy her books here.


Maryannwrites said...

Kris, thanks for the reminder about how important it is to write first. I keep getting my schedule turned upside down and have to keep putting it right again. Sigh....

If I am lucky enough to win one of your book, I would love to try Ratttled.

Kris Bock said...

Thanks, Maryann. It's so hard sometimes to put writing first when you have other tasks that seem more important, or at least have tighter deadlines.

Somehow those other tasks are always still waiting for you when you're done with your writing. ;-)

Jenny Milchman said...

10K words/week is pretty impressive, Kris! The struggle to balance writing time with everything else (but especially marketing) is being talked about so much these days. There are new ways to market cropping up every day--it's hard to know what to do and when. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! -- BrendaW.

Jemi Fraser said...

Life really is about priorities! It sounds like a busy, creative and fulfilling life you've got for yourself!

If I'm lucky enough to win, I'd love a copy of Rattled :)

Kris Bock said...

"Busy, creative and fulfilling" definitely fits! Marketing is one thing I'm letting slide a bit right now, unfortunately. I have a long to-do list, but I don't want to spend six months on marketing and then have no new work to promote. In any case, it seems like it can be an endless cycle, and no one really knows what (if anything) provides the best results for your time. I try to do a couple of marketing tasks each week and accept that some things are just not going to get done.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I enjoyed learning more about your writing process, and seeing how you fit everything in. There really is so much more to the writing life than there used to be. You sound remarkably organized!

I'm interested in The Eyes of Pharaoh.

Jackie Miller said...

Chris, you are remarkable. I just can't believe how disciplined you are. I love all of your writings both young adults and romance. Am looking forward to the sequel of Rattled. It I'm luck enough to win please donate my ebook to someone else because I have both of yours already.

Rosi said...

Great post. Very interesting glimpse into the writing life. I'd like to read The Eyes of the Pharaoh.