Writing as Business: An Epiphany

Posted by M. K. Waller


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.

Recently, I discovered another aspect of writing as business that I can’t quite fit onto a list.

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’
and in Mysterical-E.

21 thoughts on “Writing as Business: An Epiphany

  1. Good for you! I just read an article from Christian Communicator written a few years ago, (those publications I get and set aside to read “someday.”) It was about accepting critiques. Your story of how you talked yourself into submitting reminded me of it, in that you have to look as things as being and helping your business, and writing something is really a collaborative project, not just a personal baby. I’m so glad you got your story published and apparently came up with a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Writing is definitely a collaborative project. I don’t have trouble accepting critiques–(mostly)–but submitting takes more nerve. Sometimes I have it and sometimes I don’t. Shakespeare says, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” So much depends on thinking. Thanks for your comment. (I think that’s what Shakespeare said. This morning, I’m not in the mood to look things up.)


    1. Thank you. Dancing is good, and I need the exercise. Since you read the next one, I fixed it and I pronounced it free of error, and I’ll shall send it on its way. Next stop, the book launch. Excelsior!


  2. I don’t submit for that very reason or because I don’t watch for opportunities. Glad you bit the bullet. I’ve known Kaye for many years, online, and I’ve been her critique partner a few times. She’s a funny, talented woman, or should I say SUPER Woman. I’ve also watched from her first published book and met her in person a couple of years ago, at the same time I met our own Barbara. I think you too are a very talented and active writer. Congratulations on your story being accepted. I’m doing the happy dance for you. Cher’ley.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Then we’re on the same page, Cher’ley. I don’t watch for opportunities either. One of my Sisters in Crime recently did a presentation on where to find calls, but I’ve been slow to follow instructions. You’re right about Kaye–super. I consider her my mentor (although she might prefer I not spread that around). Thanks for kind words, and for doing the happy dance. That’s one of the best things about writing–the happy dancing we do for one another.


  3. Some fine words of wisdom. I look at submissions in a philosophical way. Your short story or novel can be rejected for a number of reasons beyond the writing was substandard. Maybe the plot didn’t fit what the publisher was looking for at that moment. Often on Facebook I see people commenting on reviews for their novels; sometimes an author can get quite irate over a review. A bad review is a risk an author takes… five readers can like your book, but that sixth one… look out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard so many stories about agents saying, “I like your book, but I don’t LOVE it.” It seems to that would be the most difficult to accept, even though it’s really a positive response. The only time I became irate (and loud) over a review was when a contest judge told me my submission had a lot of run-on sentences and that Word has a grammar check and I should use it. It’s not wise to tell a former English teacher she’s committed the sin of run-on sentences when her submission contains NONE of the disgusting creatures (and when she spent years trying to stamp them out of students’ writing). See? That was at least ten years ago, and I still have the fantods just thinking about it. So much attitude adjustment still to be done… Thanks for your comment.


    1. You know what? Yesterday it was okay for writing to be a business. Today I’m not so happy about it. Oh well. I don’t get what I want all the time. Thanks for commenting, Barb.


  4. I empathise with the concept of ‘how do some writers fit in so much in such a short time’ when I can’t seem to write more than a few blog posts a week and do a few interviews a month. My main writing is a slow trickle but I know it is all due to the fact that I’m not organised and I don’t react well to a tick list I know I’ll not manage to complete so my goals are minimal just now. I’m always also at the ‘soon it will change’ mentality and soon it will!


    1. For me, minimal goals are the best choice. I can accomplish only so much in one day, and I hate transferring the undone to the next day’s list. Sad to say I’d rather write blog posts than work on stories. Your blog posts and interviews are so much more than I get done, and then there are your books. I’d like to treat writing as a business the same way you do. Time’s winged chariot, and all that.


  5. I’m happy and excited for you, Kathy! The eclipse seems to be taking the world by storm — why not the writing world??! I look forward to reading the book, especially your story. I wish there were more hours in the day to do both the creativity of writing and the business of writing. 🙂


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