A Younger Me
I was born with a pencil in my hand. As a youngster, I published articles in my school magazine and in college I majored in literary science. I always dreamed of becoming the next Tolkien or C. S. Lewis.
Nope. Not really. Though I did write an article for the school paper, and a college professor once gave me high praise for a paper i wrote, I didn’t dream of becoming a writer until I hit my mid forties. I loved books, though, and fantasized about idyllic places like Narnia and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I was reading a best selling trilogy that grabbed my attention because of the sexual practices of the main couple. I hated that female, and loathed what she put her man through. The writing didn’t exactly inspire me as a great work either. And I knew I could do better.
At the time, my daughter had graduated from high school and attended college in a nearby city. My son had a few more years of high school and my husband worked independently. Life was good. However, my nearly full-time job required enormous amounts of creativity and daily hours at the piano. So I dreamed of vacations alone with my laptop. I fantasized about going to a secluded resort to be in the quiet and solitude of nature. With only the sound of my fingers tapping the keyboard. And perhaps some birds singing in the trees.
That, my friends, was twelve years ago.
I wrote a book! So now what?
It took only three months to write my first book. You wouldn’t recognize it, but it was a raw version of Elements of Submission. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I pantsed-it to the thrilling end. Then I asked a few people to read the work, which I’ll now refer to as the WIP. Writers, you know this stands for Work In Progress. This particular WIP became my nemesis. It moved me to go to conferences and learn about publishing. It demanded revision and editing. And I worked–dare I say slaved–over this WIP for more than six years.
the WIP became my master. My Dom. I paid my brutal, writerly dues with the WIP. I pitched it to agents and editors who, you guessed it, rejected it time and time again. I asked friends for their feedback and was surprised that they disagreed with me. This book, they said, was no best-seller.
Another character called, and so did my Mom.
After six or seven years, three or four conferences per year, one-hundred-and-sixty query rejections and 20 revisions of the WIP -give or take- I decided it was in my best interest to move on. Another character demanded to be written. Her name was Caryn Klein.
I had learned enough about storytelling and the craft of writing that I began to see the value in writing genre fiction. Genre fiction is, after all, what most people want to read. Best-selling authors love follow a formula for their books because they know it will sell. And isn’t that what all authors want? To sell books? Readers love genre fiction because they know what to expect. For example, with mystery, one expects to find a crime. The protagonist will need to do some hoofing around town, detective work, if you will. The protagonist will get into some pretty deep shiznit. Things may look bleak for her for a while, but she’ll eventually pull out of it and solve the crime. Oh happy ending. Or cliff hanger.
I prefer a cliff hanger.
The mystery genre was the best fit for Caryn Klein (my new dominatrix, so to speak). She woke me before sun-up and rode me until I put fingertips to keyboard. So I wrote another manuscript. I began pitching it at con’s and querying agents. I was on the verge, and getting great feedback when. . .
My mother became deathly ill.
My life, not the writers’ life.
When a loved one becomes ill, I move heaven and earth to make it right for them. That’s what kind of person I am. So in between working 30-40 hour weeks and writing and pitching this new book, I drove 12 hours on weekends to take care of my mom. As you know, once hospice steps in, things get real.
I forgot about my dreams and desires because Mom needed me. I put my pipe-dream of a writers’ life aside for more important matters.
Endings bring beginnings.
Seven months later, leaves covered the ground and my driveway. Cold grey skies threatened snow flurries as kids looked forward to dressing up for Halloween and a night of trick-or-treating. It was four days after my mom had passed when I recieved the call.
A well known publisher wanted my book. I spoke to the editor and didn’t understand what she meant by “We’ll send a contract in the next few days.” Grief and sadness were a fog that I couldn’t see clearly through. My husband understood. His tears helped me to translate, I had a publisher for my book.
It wasn’t until after Crooked Lane published BEST KEPT SECRETS (yep, Tracey S. Phillips is my alter-ego) in 2019 that I understood what the #writerslife was. I can now tell you what it isn’t. The writers’ life is not long relaxing days in front of a sunny window sipping coffee and musing about your characters. The writers’ life is not jet-setting across the country for book signings in New York and Dallas. Nor is it a simpler life planning your series and typing for hours at a time.
Okay, nix that part for typing for hours at a time… because, typing is the majority of what I do. Typing, writing, editing, revising. In truth, the writers’ life is what you make it. And each is as different and unique as individual humans.
Since then, I’ve learned social media and how to market and self-publish. I’ve learned the power of community and the power of video. There are many aspects of the writers’ life that I could have if I wanted–a podcast, a weekly blog, a daily post on all the best Facebook romance groups.
But that isn’t really me.
Topping from the Bottom
It sounds selfish, I know, but I’m learning how important it is to take care of my own needs. My #writerslife will be the way I want it.
Karissa Knight’s Elements of Submission is available for FREE on Amazon KU
Order a paperback copy and I’ll sign it for you! PM me on Twitter for more info!