Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What does it mean to have a "writing career"?

Six years into my journey as a "published YA author," I have accomplished the following:

  • Published a "quiet" debut novel, AUDITION, 2011.
  • Worked myself to the bone blog-touring, live-touring and otherwise promoting AUDITION.
  • Paid my own way to several book events in support of AUDITION.
  • Wrote another novel that was passed on by my editor so it is currently filed away.
  • Contributed a short story to the DEAR TEEN ME anthology edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson, and a short entry to THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca.
  • Published a more successful (Junior Library Guild selection; made a few award short-lists; PW star, strong reviews) sophomore title, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, in 2014.
  • Did next to nothing (not even a launch party) to promote THE SOUND OF LETTING GO but the reviews have driven slightly better sales.
  • Found out my first novel was being remaindered.
  • Wrote a fourth novel that was passed on by my editor but I didn't want to file it away--I thought there was something to it--so I wrestled, moaned, moped, tore apart and rewrote it. After a few rejections, realized it needed revision, so that's in progress and I'm writing another story as well.
  • Attend (and enjoy) SCBWI meetings and events.
  • Collaborate with my local librarian on an on-going monthly writing program in my community which continues to be well-attended.
  • Swapped participation in a formal critique group for monthly meetings with several writer-friends for support and feedback.
  • Mentor at the online First Five Pages writing workshop.
  • Work harder to reach out to other writers (at all stages) I like and admire--for coffee, write-ins, general commiseration.
  • Beta-read for a number of fellow-authors; read a lot of YA and fiction more broadly.
  • Continue my successful freelance writing and consulting business for which I read about 400-800 pages of other peoples' writing per month.
  • Have made some amazing writer friends, several online, and quite a few whom I have ACTUALLY VISITED (in the flesh) in California, Utah, New York, & Massachusetts.
  • Attended a writing class at a local college; currently attend a (fantastic) writing class at Hugo House in Seattle.
So here I am in February, 2017. I feel like the more I study the craft of writing, the harder it gets to write my next book. I'm not sure whether I have lost confidence or self-discipline or the belief that publishing is sufficiently meaningful to merit the angst, but there you have it.  I find myself struggling with the question: Do I have a writing CAREER? What exactly does that/should that mean? And, where do I go from here?