Writing is a business.
That’s what experienced writers tell the wannabes.
For a long time, I thought business applied to action alone: Write every day, attend classes, network, become familiar with various routes to publication, learn the market, read submission guidelines, stay in good physical shape, and on and on… Items on a list, they could be checked off at the end of each day.
Last winter, Kaye George put out a call for submissions of stories for DAY OF THE DARK, an anthology to celebrate the total solar eclipse that will be visible from parts of the United States this summer. Each story would contain an element of mystery and would be related to an eclipse. Kaye would edit, and Wildside Press would have the book out before the August 21 eclipse.
I’ve known Kaye for a number of years, ever since I joined Austin Mystery Writers, which she was facilitating. I watched as her career took off–a contract for one mystery series soon turned into contracts for three more series. At the same time, she wrote and published short stories and articles, and appeared on panels, and made it look easy.
Periodically, I said, “I don’t know how she gets it all done.”
And someone would respond, “Now, you mustn’t compare yourself to Kaye.”
And I would say, “I’m not comparing myself to her. I just don’t know how she gets it all done.”
I knew, of course, that she did it by checking tasks off that list. What I wanted to know was–where did she get the energy? (I still want to know.)
When I read her call for submissions, I didn’t consider sending a story. As usual, my mind was blank. My mind is always blank–what could I write about an eclipse?–until the last minute. As usual, at the last minute, I came up with an idea for a story.
I don’t like to work for friends. I don’t mix the personal and the professional. If I sent Kaye a story and she rejected it, I wouldn’t be hurt, I wouldn’t be angry, I wouldn’t be devastated–but I would be embarrassed, not by rejection, but by the knowledge that I’d had the audacity to submit an inferior product, a story I should have known wasn’t worthy–
Here’s where the epiphany comes in:
It dawned on me that–what a concept!–Kaye is a businesswoman. She intended to put out the best book possible. She would choose only stories that fit her purpose.
And epiphany, part 2:
I was a businesswoman. I would submit a story. It it was accepted, I would be pleased. If it was rejected, I would accept that as part of doing business, set the story aside, tweak it, submit it elsewhere. Or, if I discovered it wasn’t tweakable, I would set it aside and leave it there.
Write, submit, be accepted/rejected, get on with life.
So I wrote a story titled “I’ll Be a Sunbeam,” submitted, was accepted, and, after dancing around the room for a while–dancing is also part of the writing business–I saw another call for submissions, wrote, submitted…
In three days, DAY OF THE DARK will be released. It will be available in print and for Kindle, and can be pre-ordered now.
I’m thrilled my story was accepted for DAY OF THE DARK. I’m thrilled to be in the company of the twenty-three other writers whose stories appear there.
And I’m thrilled to finally understand that the writing business is really a state of mind.
To read more about stories in DAY OF THE DARK, see Debra Goldstein’s Day of the Dark Anthology!!!! – Part I . Part II will appear on July 31.
M. K. Waller, aka Kathy,
has published stories
in Austin Mystery Writers’
MURDER ON WHEELS
and in Mysterical-E.