2016 – What I’ve Learned Over the Last Year

 

nerdy-novelist-winter

2016 has been a year of many firsts. Hard for me to believe that last Christmas eve I sat around the family table, cocktail in hand, discussing my half written manuscript and the fact I needed a pen name. We played around with multiple names until my mom and dad finally suggested Maggie Jane Schuler. Everyone unanimously agreed and off into the wild blue yonder I began this journey between reading, writing, reviewing, and developing a plan to publish a book.

I worked my butt off between January and July writing a very rough manuscript. This journey brought me a whole new perspective and learning curve I never even believed I’d venture through. The authors I instant messaged were all so kind and helpful. They answered my silly novice questions and always added little extra tidbits of advice for good measure. The best part about each of the folks queried is they soon became friends who also valued some of my humble opinions on their own WIP’s, covers, and blurbs.

The indie community is a welcoming band of heroes who impress me daily with their creativity and generosity. This first and foremost is a gratuitous community who bands together to help raise awareness for multiple causes from literacy and suicide prevention to autoimmune disorders and cancer research. They help promote one another’s works and protect each other from those who sit outside in judgement of this 21st century publishing business. This is a new business model; one which not only binds the material works but supports the emotional side of its dedicated authors, bloggers, and readers as well.

Beta readers. What can I say, other than you’ve motivated me to continue walking along this path. 2017 will be my year to offer you all a small piece of the ideas which roll about in my head in a completed prose form. It is a difficult journey to work hard on a piece and become narrowly focused and often sabotaging oneself along the way. Creating the raw work and allowing beta readers to tear it apart only to build it back up is not for the faint of heart. It takes time and dedication to continually revisit all the errors within a work. Then rework those errors by either throwing out sections, rewording, developing new transitions, or scrapping the initial scene and using it as a skeleton to create a stronger piece. When those you trust find the little plot hiccups or notice you’ve digressed from a character’s internal motivation the hard work really begins. The beta readers are in the trenches and kind enough to continue the journey with you each step of the way. They are tireless in nature and truthful in helping the process move forward.

Editors have another thankless task. They remind me of the fine copper pipes hidden behind the walls of a structure. You never appreciate them quite like you should until they are not working correctly or in writing when the final product goes to the audience with multiple errors. That’s when you notice when and where an author decided to invest in an editor or editors. Avoiding the plunge into grammar and structure anarchy is a key component to creating readership and fans. Many times, reviews will focus on the idea of, “That was a nice plot and I was excited to read but the typos, and other errors were too distracting so I couldn’t fully appreciate the piece.” Again, from betas to editors a heart is stripped of all modesty because these folks truly see the raw to finished product. For those new to writing prose in the fiction arena this is a difficult jump and often the first barrier because rejection is high. I know for myself, the struggle between academic writing and fictional prose style is drastically different and they often contradict each other. This has been a new first in learning to reintroduce contractions, slang, dialect structures, and other various crafty items into my own works. 

My own family took my dedication to this second career in stride. Somedays have been difficult but they ignore my self-doubt and relentlessly cheer me on daily. I have had times on this road when I felt maybe this arena I’d stepped into without enough armor, without enough education, was or is heftier than I’m ready to tackle. Multiple times down this road less traveled I wanted to bury my head and burn the words I’d written. My family, each and every one of them, provided me a safe place to grow and express my frustrations as well as celebrate my mini successes. While I’m still in process on several pieces I continue to forge ahead with the constant encouragement of my family and their never-ending support of my dream to be an author.

The big firsts of 2106 are about to transition into new ideas and adventures for 2017. As Christmas quickly approaches with New Years on its heels, I want to stop and thank all those who have helped me get this far. The goal I’ve realistically set for myself at this point is to publish early in the first quarter of next year and am hopeful I can get three total works out into the market for 2017. I am certain this new path of daily writing also helps me in my day job. I read handfuls of essays from young aspiring students who have big dreams of their own. If I am capable of providing them a hint of joy in reading and writing, because I am also a full-time practitioner in these same activities, then my job is a success. I hope you all follow your own dreams, and enjoy the holiday season.

With a humble thank you and blessings to all,

Maggie Jane

 

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