What it takes to be a career author - particularly a novelist - the kinds of sacrifices you have to make to carve out enough silence to hear the words of a story, and how there are no straight line trajectories.
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Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance here with my first cup of coffee.
Delicious. Today is say it with me ready. Woohoo um, June Twenty third I have an event tonight if you're anywhere near Santa Fe at purple fern bookstore with the inimitable Melinda Snodgrass should be fun. Um I know at least 1 neighbor will be there right? Um I've had a good week. I've had ah I've actually had a great week and I'm um, yeah, super pleased with how my program is working to improve word count I have had 3 3 thousand word days in a row now. Um, if I get even like 500 words today. Only 500 words today I will have beaten last week um if I get another 3000 word day today then I will be It'll be my best week so far this year so and it's it's flowing. Well it's flowing so nicely so I don't know if that's my program or if it's this book Oneira um, this book is just pouring out. That's just such.
Such a joy when that happens I mean you can't count on it and I'm not sure that it's meaningful. Um, someone in my discord in Jeffe's Closet Lisette Marshall I think said that that means that it's gonna be a really good book and I I don't know if I believe that. Um, because even the books that are like the real tooth pullers. Some of those are really good and it's very difficult for me to say that one of my books is better than another um than another other authors seem to be able to do this. But. I don't know I I like all of my but I suppose there's a few that I would go back and change but then readers really like them so I don't know I don't know what to say? Ah, but. I'm just trying to enjoy the ride. Enjoy the flow of this one. It's it's definitely just so nice to do this and to be able to focus on the book and to have it coming along and it's something I've been thinking about it's made me realize that um.
I think my life is really different than a lot of people's lives. Ah and it's sort of been turning up to me in different ways. Um, just because I have a couple of new friends that like I've been messaging with and I will send them. Ah message so like on Whatsapp you can see that somebody has read the message and I have this one friend that it'll take her like two days to reply and I know that it's not that she doesn't want to because when she does you know she'll reply in thoughtful ways or we'll talk on the phone and she'll say oh I just got so busy. And I know I know she's really busy I know she has a lot of demands on her time and I think a lot of people's lives are much noisier than mine I'm at a fortunate place in my life where you know the kids are grown and the grandkids are not close by and so we have um. You know it's just me and David and we lead this pretty quiet life. But I've also been realizing how much of that I've created created I want to have a really quiet life I want there to be a lot of space. for the words to fill in for the story to come in and I think that that's something that we both developed for a long time. Um, when we did martial arts training Dallas training spending long time in meditation and just.
Enjoying quiet. So so yes, I've noticed that my life is much less busy than other people's now I have 1 friend who who lives up in taos and is he. And even more of a hermit than I am and she'll comment on how often I'm traveling and it's been really nice that I haven't traveled anywhere this month um but so she's probably got an even more quiet life than we do.
She lives with just her husband and their animals and really don't see many people in sort of inside their high walled compound and she's very productive Writer. So I Do think that there's a connection to that. Um a friend to asked me the other day about a mutual friend and whether. I Thought that this friend could be a successful writer. They're still in early stages and I said well they have the talent. Um, but you all know if you've been listening to this podcast for any length of time that Talent is a very small piece of the puzzle.
It's great to have talent. Enjoy it if you've got it cherish it nurture it? Um, So this person has the talent they have the the background they've done a lot of the reading in their life which I think is very important to understand story and. To understand the canon and they have um the the thick skin to take critique willingness to take critique. Um, but and my big but is that I think.
I Think that they're a bit of a dilettante in that if they want to write especially to write a novel you have to devote long periods of concentrated time to writing it and this person. Um.
You know has a busy life has young kids which makes it harder not impossible but does make it harder but also does a lot of socializing you know a lot of partying and a lot of traveling going places or you know like a couple of weeks at a time with big groups of people and this sort of thing. Um, which to me actually sounds like hell. But I think it's funny because um, when I first found out that you know like just talking to this friend about like their plans I'm like you're gonna be there for two weeks two weeks with people there nonstop all the time How do you get anything done and of course the answer is is they really don't um, they have written some short stories and I think that you're probably okay, better writing short stories if you're going to have that crowded of a life. But I think it's really hard to write novels if you have a really crowded noisy life and you have to carve out space for um, for the creative flow you have to find silence or you're not going to be able to hear the words of the story.
Um, I'm being that that that's what I think I you know I'm sure other people could you could find examples. But yeah I think that unless this person sort of changes up how they're approaching things I don't know I don't know if they'll. Be able to make the strides that they want to make. You know the the will and when we talk about will is it is it. There. The desire can be there. But then there's got to be something more.. There's got to be the willingness to make sacrifices. And some of that is like not not having the party life. Ah you know, being ready to you know have what amounts to a fairly boring life. Um with a lot of quiet.
And and now I feel like I'm just repeating myself but I had a a friend pop up yesterday and I won't say who it is just in case. But ah, a very well established author and in fact, this person was published way before I was. Um, had a traditional book publishing contract. Um a great agent. She was very generous and wonderful to me when I was ah a brand newbie author when I was still querying when i. Was nobody I hate that are we some are we not and somebody even if we're still querying. You know what? I mean though? Um, yeah, she was very supportive very helpful and as as happens in this business. Um. Various things happened in her life. Um, the you know the traditional publisher decided not to continue her book deal. She ended up parting ways with her agent because her agent was doing unfortunate stuff unethical stuff around self- publishing.
Um, yeah, it was just and and also the agent. So this is interesting. Um and and kind of instructive because yo we talk about having a bad agent is worse than having no agent at all. Ah. And if you're self-p publishishing. You probably don't need an agent unless you're like trying to get into foreign rights deals and that sort of thing which you don't have to have but it's helpful. Um, but in this case, ah. Okay, so this gal and I were at um, a conference together in Rw conference and I said ah did you tell your editor that you're going to to be here because her editor was going to be at the conference and she said no she doesn't want anything to do with me because they decide not to continue on with that series and I said you don't. Know that you should you should make contact with her at least say hello. So so she like emailed her editor a couple days before her former editor you know and just said hi. Let I let you know all be at Rw and Editor was like what why didn't you tell me and ended up taking my friend out to lunch. And she said how come you haven't sent me anything else and my friend said well my agent said that you didn't want to say anything else for me and the editor was you know, kind of did the head tilt and she said no I said I we couldn't keep going with that series.
But I did want to see your next thing and the agent had never said so and that was when my friend was still with that agent and that was part of the reason she decided to part ways. Um did she forget maybe did she think it wasn't important. Did she think oh well, she'd bring it up next time my friend had. Um, something to sell. It's hard to say but you really want an agent who's gonna leap on that kind of thing and facilitate communication not get in the way of it. So um, anyway, so this friend and I have a long history. We've known each other for a very long time first met through um, an rwa special interest chapter for those of you wondering How do you meet writing friends and she and I have been critiqued partners and are occasionally still every once's well she asks me to read something for her. Every once while I send her something especially if I need fresh eyes and we sort of know each other's particular expertise. So anyway, anyway, she pops up yesterday and saying um, feeling existential angst and. So one of the things that's happened is that life has happened for her. She has done a little bit of self- publishishing. Um, she sold a self- published series to a traad publisher because she just didn't have time to manage it.
But she has not been getting the writing done. She's living in a politically inhospitable place and taking care of aging parents and so yeah, she measured me yesterday and sent me a picture of cute cats. By way of offering and then said that she was experiencing existential angst because she's you know all that stuff she tried to build that writing career. She tried to build is feels like it's nothing now and and that's. That's just a hard place to be It's you know the the past laurels right? and and I could totally understand and and I feel like it's important to talk about this because we. We tend to think especially as newbie authors that once we get the agent and once we get the book deal and once we get the accolades. Ah her her books have won amazing distinction. She's won awards big awards and. That we think okay, then we're set that you know and and this goes back to this thing I was talking about not long ago. Well I don't know if it was on here. It could have been at a it might have been an in person of event but this whole idea you know like where people come up to you and say you've made it congratulations. You've made it well.
There there is no made it. Um there. This is a business this in in publishing the trajectory is not this straight line that shoots up it is the up and down mine. It is the roller coaster. It is the you can become yesterday's news really fast um and the 1 thing that you can control is the writing right? But that's very difficult that's the part that's a challenge right? Especially if. There's a lot of life happening and my friend has a day job to help support the parents and all of that kind of thing and you know so she's and for a while she was a full time writer and you know she was able to do both that time to writing and it's like you know it. It goes around and comes around and a lot of writers even you know like um Andy Weir who wrote the martian you know he talks about that that he ah I think he got laid off from the day job. He had already been writing the martian he'd been doing that. Self publishing it on his blog and building that platform and and doing very well with it and then he ah I think got laid off from his day job and had a good enough severance package to take a year to write and he thought well I'll finish this book and finish writing and.
He ended up having to go back to work of course then he hit the Stratosphere with the book deal and now he probably never has to have a day job again, but a lot of writers you know quit the day job and end up having to go back and it's just how it works. Um.
That full time salary and benefits. It's a seductive thing. It's how the man get you back into the grind. So so anyway, um, yeah, so she was just feeling it and I just and I feel it for her and you know she said I'm just not getting the writing done. And I said what can I help can can I help you think of ways to build a fence around the writing to create that time and she said you know what? no emotional labor without ah recompense she said I'm just gonna join your patrie on a Discord and I was delighted to have her there and I said well i. To be a financial burden on you and she's like well unless it's hundreds of dollars a month I think it'll be fine so in which it's not that's like five or ten dollars a month so anyway um it's great to have her there and it's funny because as soon as she popped in there people are like wait. You're the author of this book. Oh my god and so I'm I'm hoping that that is if you are listening to this I hope it's okay that I talked about this and I hope that that connects back with the fact that you do have this community of people who love your work.
And um, and it's easy to forget that it's easy to get out there in the world of day jobs and caring for aging parents and forget that that there is a reason that that you write and um and it's it's a higher calling it I mean that I. That maybe sounds goofy but it is. It's something that we do out of I Love of the work.
So um, yeah, so it's an it's a good thing to keep in mind it takes a lot of willpower not only to write those novels to stick with those novels and write through.
The boring parts of the non-flowing parts but also willpower to withstand the inevitable down slides. Um, it's just it's the way of things and um, boy boy you've got to want it. But if you do want it and if you're willing to apply yourself if you want it more than done the parties and the you know vacations to Europe and all of this kind of thing. You know it's nothing wrong with all of that stuff. It's just really hard to write a novel at the same time and. You you have to choose you have to um, you have to sacrifice some things if that's what you want to have so on that note I am going to go inside and get to work very excited. Think that I might get another three thousand today who knows on I tend to Peter off on Fridays but um, maybe maybe I'll make it today and we'll see I'll report and I will talk to you all on Monday you all take care bye bye.