Good advice from The Kill Zone

I read The Kill Zone every morning. The authors posting at this site are smart, knowledgeable, and entertaining. I found this particular post especially helpful;

When you’ve peaked the hill of middle age and find yourself plunging down the other side on the luge towards death, images of your childhood fantasies start to blur past you like scenery seen from an express train. What have I accomplished in the last few (or more) decades?

Am I living on a lake with four dogs, six horses, and a man who looks and sings like David Cassidy?




Um, no. One dog, and a guy who can sing but has nowhere near as much hair as David.

Nor do I have a university diploma, a teaching career, or a 1965 Montreal Blue Mustang convertible. But worst of all, most disappointing of all, I don’t have a published book.

Fortunately, hopefully, I still have time for the book dream. I could get my diploma and become a teacher but that is not the dream that irritates me. Wakes me up in the middle of the night. Unsettles me when I look around and think about how lucky I am to have the things I do have.

I want to be an author. Not just a writer. A recognized, if even only by a few, author. Why? Is it a need for admiration? No…don’t think so, though it would be nice. Number one reason? Just so I can say I did it. I set a goal and actually accomplished it. Might not be an Olympic gold medal. Won’t end up with a bunch of initials after my name. But seeing my words in print (even if it’s eprint) will be something I can be proud of, a tangible reality that will entertain, and hopefully inspire. Encourage others to arrange words on paper until they tell a story that makes their reader laugh, or cry, or hope, or feel anything other than boredom.

As Mr. Boyd Morrison points out in his post, linked above, Steve Berry wrote eight books in twelve years before he was published. And none of those books was the one published. Dean Koontz’s first four books were never published, and he wrote 100 books before Mr. Morrison ever heard of him. Stephen King’s “On Writng” tells of his struggles, and they were long and hard before he hit it big with CARRIE.

I’ve written two books. One in 2004 and the other, 2013. Nowhere near enough practice. If I’m not writing, I should be reading. Not just novels, but also how-to books, written by published authors who want to help newbies hone their craft. I should be taking notes, building my platform, shaping my goals into achievable bites, attending conferences and writing, writing, writing.

And I should calm the f*ck down. Slow the luge. The more pressure I put on myself, the more my brain cells, what few are left, freeze up. Take deep breaths. And take one step at a time. Realize this dream is not going to reach fulfillment overnight. Or even over many, many, nights. All I have to do is keep working towards it. Do something towards that goal every day. Finish the present book to the best of my ability, and send it out. Rejected? Send it to another publisher. Rejected? Go to the next name on your list. Meanwhile, write the next book.

No matter what pesters you in the middle of the night or the early morning hours, Mr. Morrison’s advice are good words to follow. Calm down. Do not make hasty decisions and give yourself a break. Even if you’re not where you wanted to be when you were twelve, you still have choices about which way to go next. Think about it. No rush. And if you decide you are quite happy where you are, and where you’re heading…PERFECT. I envy you.

I still have a long row to hoe.


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16 Responses to Good advice from The Kill Zone

  1. Barb Taub says:

    Okay, it’s probably good advice (even blows one your vs you’re). But here’s the thing… he wouldn’t have taken it five years ago. And neither would (should?) you. I personally believe that writers are *supposed* to obsess about each and every one of those things. If you don’t care, you probably won’t be writing those next forty books. So, yes — try to stop short of the point where they’re coming at you with restraints and large doses of the happy pills (unless your genre is erotica), but don’t beat obsess about obsessing. How else will you know you’re a writer?

    BTW: I’ve read some of your stuff and it’s damn good. So I also don’t think you should be too quick to dust your hands off and say “On to the next.” I’m just saying…

    • ajcap says:

      So, what you’re saying (please note the proper use of you’re) is my only choice is to ride out the obsessing? It’s part of the rite of passage? That the obsessing will fade as I prosper? And if I write erotica I get free happy pills? No, that last one is too good to believe.

      And, thank you for your BTW. I’m not dusting yet, and won’t until I’m completely happy with the book.

  2. Barb Taub says:

    Oh, and David Cassidy? WAY too much hair.

    • ajcap says:

      WHAT!? Impossible. No such thing as WAY too much hair. Unless it’s, you know, all over and looks like they’re wearing a grizzly bear pelt.

  3. Linda says:

    David Cassidy looks too much like a girl for my taste. Good hair though.

  4. Steve Capper says:

    David Cassidy is older than I am now and so (logically) should be even balder than myself. If he isn,t then he’s the first against the wall when the revolution comes!

    • ajcap says:

      I’m thinking David Cassidy doesn’t visit my site, so probably not shaking in his hush puppies from your threat. But now the song “Up against the wall, you redneck mothers” is stuck in my head. Thank you very much for that.

  5. S. J. Crown says:

    I don’t think you have anything close to a problem with this, but, along with all the obsessing, we shouldn’t forget to have some fun, which is probably what got us writing in the first place.

    • ajcap says:

      Very true, Stan, and that’s what I love about flash and short stories. They’re instant fun and I haven’t spent as much time as I should with them. Going to remedy that, very shortly.

  6. Danielle says:

    David Cassidy still has hair, according to the last photo I saw of him. He’s not as cute as he used to be, but what 60-something person looks like their teen or 20-soemething self?

    Amanda, you’ve accomplished more by simply completing a novel than most people who say they’re going to write one. I haven’t finished mine yet, but I’m working on it. :-)

    • ajcap says:

      Finishing this book was very satisfying, but once you’ve jumped one hurdle, there’s always another hurdle waiting. Such is life. Book hurdle done, on to publishing hurdle.

      Keep working on it, Danielle. You’ll like how it feels when you write, THE END. I guarantee it.

  7. Danielle says:

    I agree with the shorts. I’ve written a couple of them over the past few weeks during a short break from the novel.

    Oh, I know I’ll enjoy writing THE END. Can’t wait. :-)
    Then, I’ll start working on the second book. I hope that I can outline enough to really give NanoWriMo a go this year.

    • ajcap says:

      I loved NanoWriMo. Only participated once but I finished it and have the diploma to prove it. Also ended up with a great outline for a YA novel. On my list of things to finish. But I don’t think I’ll be participating this year. Soaks up a lot of writing time and until I’ve done something with the first NanoWriMo, I shouldn’t take part in another one.

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