A lot of people look at writing as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme these days. Not that getting published is ever really ‘easy’ or necessarily ‘quick’, even if you’re self-publishing, but there are people who flush out one book after another, multiple books a year, and they can make crazy amounts of money that way. More than the average “less than $10,000 a year” I keep hearing about. I’m in the Facebook groups. I see people post about their success with pictures of the numbers. I’ve talked to people who do it.
I can’t tell you how tempting it is to try that myself.
I could do it. I could choose a book, set myself a standard of quality, write the book in a month, and get it edited and published. Piece of cake. I could significantly add to my family’s income in a short amount of time by doing that. I have the resources and the tools to follow in other people’s footsteps.
The main reason I keep telling myself I can’t is the same reason I don’t plan on trying to get a traditional publisher: I don’t want to compromise the quality of my writing.
Sometimes I wonder why I don’t just accept that the current quality of my writing is good enough. I have good ideas, I’m good with outlines and plot devices, I’ve got a lot of talent in regards to a lot of aspects of writing. What else do I need? Especially if it’s taking me this long to get published. A lot of other people are doing it. I could do it at least as well.
Personally, I’ve never enjoyed reading any books that were written that quickly. None of the ones I’ve read offered anything unique or interesting. And I love to learn. I love to ask questions. I love seeing that the author asked questions and wrote out their story without covering things up with explanations like, “It’s fiction…” Or, “It’s magic…” Or, “That part isn’t really important to the story…” “…so it doesn’t matter.” I love learning new things from a book that might not have been integral to the story at all. I love when the world itself is such a substantial character, when the world makes so much sense, that I never feel the need to question anything. I love when everything about the book is detailed enough that each sentence makes a worthy contribution.
I love getting to know a world so well from its book that I can vividly imagine every detail of myself living in it.
That kind of book can’t be written in a month.
Today I was reading a book on writing craft that mentioned something about writing stories complex enough to rival Tolkien’s books (it was only talking about terms of complexity here). I went on to google how long it took him to write “Lord of the Rings.” From what I gathered, it looks like the answer is about seventeen years. That’s a long time. And I think it’s worth it to spend that amount of time on a story. All stories have that kind of potential, but very few authors put the right kind of time and effort and skill into them to draw them out. Most authors are more focused on actually getting their story out there. I don’t think there’s a problem with that. There is value in those books, especially for people who read for different reasons than me. I’d just rather do things a little more like Tolkien. I’d like to make a contribution to the whole world rather than just to the many people waiting inside a specific niche. I couldn’t tell you any names off the top of my head of any books published in quick succession by an author who’s trying to make money quick, although I could probably make one up and there would be a book by that title by that kind of author out there. I have read several. I’ve simply forgotten them since putting them down.
On the other hand, Tolkien/Lord of the Rings is practically a household name here in America and I don’t even know what other countries. People love and talk about his books, and not just for the story line. There’s so much more to it. Now, people will also complain about some of what he writes, like how my husband complains about several pages dedicated to describing a staircase. It’s definitely possible to do informational overloads on story background. But with the right kind of know-how and help, it can be avoided.
I know I can do it.
The greatest dilemma there is time.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been researching for my series, “The Waking Forest.” I started with some google searches and have since gone through my personal library. My stack of relevant informational novels currently has about ten that are directly relevant and maybe fifteen that are less so. Do I believe I’m going to get through all of them before writing the book? Heck no. Do I believe I’ll ever read all of them cover to cover? Probably not. I am working on it. Right now I’m reading “The Penguin Social History of Britain – Sixteenth-Century England” and I hope to get all the way through this one just because so many of my books draw from various elements of England/Europe over the last thousand years, and so this book will likely be more relevant to all my work than the rest might be. I’ve drawn inspiration for dozens of ideas just from the first forty pages. I feel like I have nearly enough information and strong ideas to create a vivid world and society as I start the first book in the trilogy. (At least, I think it will be a trilogy.)
But, I haven’t started it yet. And I haven’t been especially studious about doing the research, either. I haven’t done any research for it at all today. You know what I’ve done instead? I drafted a foreword/prologue thing for my Empathy Girl series. And while I’ll probably post it on this blog in the next few days, I highly doubt it will make it into the published book. Whenever I write and publish that book, that is.
The only reason I wrote that today was because I felt like it. I keep finding my mind drifting to that series these last few days, and I paid attention to that drifting. I tried to figure out what was drawing me to it. I have a lot of books on my mind lately, and if my subconscious is dwelling on one in particular, I definitely want to find out what my subconscious is working out.
I don’t know if I’ll actually wait for any one of my posts to get to 100 likes to write that book. Heck, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m doing what feels right. The most specific long term goal I have right now is to write a good complex book and get it published. I don’t plan on taking seventeen years to do it. Then again, I don’t know what will happen or how long it will take me. I’ll keep working at it, though. I’m trying to ignore the pressures found in so many of the Facebook ads and writing groups I see regularly. Doing things the way everyone else does it isn’t going to get me what I want; it isn’t going to make me happy. For now, I’m just going to work on that. However slow my progress may seem.