I thought everyone could write if they just sat down and put their mind to it. As my facility for words came easily to me, I never thought it was important.
A facility for manipulating numbers was more of consequence, because I spent more than a score of years as an academic researcher at two fine universities in Los Angeles. I would see my colleagues glance over a few pages of charts, tables, and graphs and see a story line. Not so for me.
However, the University of Southern California offered me a free MFA degree for working there. The requirement for my MFA degree was a competent novel, which happened to be my third.
I had scored an agent with my first novel, pretty much my autobiography, which should surprise no one. It was dreadful and she was a dreadful agent, but she whetted my appetite for publication. The second novel was a little better, and once again I have a sad story about another agent. The fourth novel was much better, but by then the gateway to publication, which had always been narrow, tightened.
It took me four full-length, finished and polished novels to teach myself how to write, and become profoundly discouraged about publication. By this time avenues to self-publishing were opening up. I wasted two years dithering about whether I was too good to self-publish.
However, I’m old and two years is a long time to waste. I had always loved mystery fiction and a crisis in my life opened up a huge block of time. The dark side beckoned, and my first murder mystery came easily and so did the second. I self-published through createspace and it’s been the right choice for me.
I don’t think I could write three good books in three years to meet a contract with a traditional publisher. I like being in control of the process, the timing, and have only myself (and limited resources) to blame for the fact that I am not an international bestseller.
However, I like my mystery life, blogging, attending writing conferences, and finishing the fifth now of a series of short EBooks on the craft of writing mysteries. Along the road of publication, I’ve picked up some fine writing friends who see the world the way I do. That’s an unexpected benefit of getting published.
Check out my cheap EBooks on Writing Your First Mystery.