Thursday, November 15, 2007

Taking stock

I recently took stock of all my writing projects, which would be the novels I've finished, published, started, been thinking of starting, and of course the work in progress, and let's not forget the short stories. I've been writing fiction for what seems like forever and I have a stockpile to show for it.

Completed novels: 5
Published novels: 3 (one is a novella)
Started novels: 4 (about 100 pages into each, but I plan to finish only 2)
Novel concepts waiting to start: 4
Works in progress: 1
Short Stories: 5

You'd think with all the pages I've wracked up that I'd be making a living at this by now. Ha! I've earned about $1500 total, which comes to around 63 cents a page. That's enough to mail a 2 ounce letter first class! Cool! But that doesn't take into account all my expenses, which would include scads of writers conferences and organization dues, so that puts me in the hole a few thousand bucks. Eh, so what. That's not the point.

Non-writers would think it crazy to want to continue this career quest, saying it isn't worth it. But I can't think of anything more worthwhile. I may not have made much income, but the rewards have been phenomenal. I've made amazing friends, learned about a fascinating business, and stretched my creativity and imagination farther than I'd ever dreamed possible. Through my stories I've visited enchanted islands and vast deserts, I've battled a serial killer and traveled to the astral plane, I've talked to mummies, turned into a gargoyle, suffered a dozen scorpion stings and jelly fish stings, I've killed people, made love to people, and given birth to people. How many non-writers can say that about their jobs?

So have you taken stock of your writing inventory? What have you experienced through the stories you've told?


Alice Sharpe said...

I like the way you put all this, Karen. You're right, it is rewarding in a lot of small ways and in a lot of important ways.

And you are also right that except for a relatively few people, this job is not the best way in the world to make a lot of money. I'm not talking Nora Roberts or Stephen King, I'm talking about the vast majority of writers who, if they spent as many hours working a job and investing in their careers as we spend writing stories, would make a lot more moolah!

But there is the possibility in writing, that the next book will transcend everything that came before, that it will reach more people, touch more people, take you places career and life wise that you have yet to go. That an idea will strike you with such universal appeal and you will be bathed in such an ethereal shaft of pure insight and talent, that you will shoot to the stars! Get that feeling while washing dishes!

Writers write, I think, because they have to write. Not to eat. To live.

Paty Jager said...

Great Blog, Karen! And so true!

Growing up I read to live a life different than my own. I could visit England, Paris, New York City through the books I read. I could plunge into the Atlantic Ocean on the back of a pony, I crossed the Sahara on a black stallion- I lived through those books.

As a writer, I not only give readers a chance to live another life, I get to live that life as I write the book. What you said, Karen, is so true. I live an exciting life- Hanging out with outlaws, being deflowered over and over again ~GRIN~ nearly being hung, mining, being a marshal, there are so many new experiences for me as a writer that I will experience through my characters. Who wants the millions- I want the living!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

ROFL at Paty's answer. Let's be honest. The "deflowering" process is not as romantic as most romance novels make it out to be. In one of JR Ward's books (can't remember which) the heroine is a virgin and her "deflowering" is nothing spectacular, but more on the reality plane. LOL

Did I mention I'm taking heavy duty cough syrup that's left me a little loopy? Maybe I should stop while I'm behind...

Great blog, Karen. Very fun. Since I havent' sold yet, I'd have to say my dollars-for-pages is even less than yours. Though I did win $325 in a contest two years ago. ;) Here's my stock:

Completed Novels: 6
Published Novels: 0
Started Novels: 4 (about 100 pgs into each and I plan two write them all)
Novel concepts waiting to start: 5
Works in proress: 2
Short Stories: 0

As for where it's taken the tombs of Egypt, to the bottom of the ocean floor, through tunnels so tight you can barely breath, to sandy beaches and through frigid blizzards. I've tangled with a psychotic murderer, scuba dived in the Caribbean, broken into an art house, seduced a professor, driven a get-away car, been on the receiving end of a lap dance, tangled with a demon (or three or four) and been kicked, punched, sliced, shot and stabbed. All in all, I'd say my (writing) life has been very rewarding.

Paty Jager said...

Forgot to add this-

Completed Novels: 10
Published Novels: 3
Started Novels: 1 (a third written will finish when the first of the trilogy sells)
Novel concepts waiting to start: 3+ I've come up with a series idea which ultimately could mean 10 or more.
Works in proress: 3 if you consider the rest of the petticoat books I'm thinking about as I write the one I'm on.
Short Stories: 1

Alice Sharpe said...

I neglected to play along.

I've been a bride, a widow, the other woman, the man who kills, the one who is killed. I've given birth, I've died. I've been in castles, in little airplanes, in snow, ice, tropics and deserts. I've run a cafe, acted in a play, worked at a nursery, given piano lessons, remodeled houses, rebuilt boats, been shot at, chased, threatened, set on fire and like Paty and Eli, deflowered, ouch! And I can't tell you how many times I have been madly, hopelessly in love. And best of all, in each and every case, he loved me back with his whole heart.

I've been doing this a long time so it's been interesting to take stock:

Completed Novels: 35
Published Novels: 34
Started Novels: 2 both under contract, one 2/3 done.
Novel concepts waiting to start: between 1-800
Works in progress: the 2 under contract
Short Stories: 25 to confession magazines

I actually totaled up money earned (as well as I could given my record keeping) and was pleasantly surprised by how much it is. My dh reminds me it's before tax earnings. It also spans 20 years. But I would have to say that I am content that it's getting better all the time.

Danita Cahill said...

This is a timely subject for me, Karen. I've been thinking a lot about what I've written, what I've started writing and want to finish and what I want write fresh in the near future. I've only been taking mental stock, but I like the idea of jotting it down, so here goes:

Completed novels: 2
Published novels: 0
Started novels: 2 (Trying to decide if I should finish these, turn them into short stories, or dump them)
Novel Concepts waiting to start: 3
Works in Progress: 1, but it is one of those listed above as completed.
Short stories: 5

Danita Cahill said...

And Alice, I'd like to see your numbers listed...

I like the idea of getting struck with an ethereal shaft of pure insight and talent, especially while doing the dishes.

Alice Sharpe said...

Oh, man I blew it. Under novels started, there should be a way higher number because you're talking about books that you got into and didn't finish, right? I can only guess, but it has to be at least a dozen, maybe more. And of those, I'll most likely never write a single one though the second book in this current duo is loosely inspired by a novel I started ten or more years ago and which was never bought. So, ladies, don't throw things away, you never know.

Danita, are you saying you didn't see my list? What, now your computer is snubbing me even on the blog?

Karen Duvall said...

You guys are so worldly! I'm impressed. We've got murderers and adventurers in our midst, and a few of us have even been repeat virgins (an oxymoron if ever there was one).

Two of the books I started and didn't finish were the second books in two different series. I should have known better than to start a second book before the first book sold. The first book of one series did sell, but I decided it wasn't a series I was all that excited about after all (Project Resurrection). It had a very limited market. A third is the second in the series I'm starting right now. Writing two books in the same series at the same time is a bit insane, so I'm going to wait until my WIP (hope, hope, hope) sells.

I've never written a deflowering scene in any of my books. I kind of remember my own deflowerment and would prefer not to repeat the experience if at all possible. I guess all my female characters are experienced lovers. Hee hee.

Thanks for playing along. 8^)

Danita Cahill said...

Okay, Alice, there it is. Somehow I missed that comment of yours when you decided to play along. Sorry.

I forgot to say what I've been and done in my make-believe writer world:

I've been chased and beaten by a teenage killer, clawed and bitten by evil, fear-manifested, possibly rabid red-eyed dogs. I've been a killer, a cop, an investigative reporter, a detective, a mentally challenged boy, a fortuneteller, a homeless man, a gardener, a legal secretary, a housewife, a photographer and a tea-leaf-reading hippie psychic.

I've suffered through divorce and the death of loved ones. I've raised children, believed lies, believed in magic, not believed in magic, been fired, rehired and worked freelance. I've had best friends, lost best friends, had conversations with my dead grandmother, been estranged from my mother, and made passionate love with my soulmate on a rocky ledge halfway down a cliff.

Hey, wait a minute. What's so make believe about that last paragraph? (Except for the cliff location...) Wow, I really take "Write what you know" heart, I guess. ha!

Alice Sharpe said...

Karen, what market are you aiming for with your current book?

The two books I'm writing are related and they're being written so close together it is insane but it also makes it seems like one big book with two distinct parts.

Karen Duvall said...

Alice, I'm aiming for the urban fantasy market. It's not really a romance, but there's a romantic subplot that doesn't start until chapter five. The second book picks up where the first leaves off. The main plot line is wrapped up, but a secondary plot line begins as a result of that ending. It could stand alone, but a sacrifice ends the first book, and to put things right and to ease my heroine's guilt, the next story in the series needs to be told.

So the two are like one big book, as you said. Plus there's an over-arcing plot thread that carries over into the second book and will go into a third, possibly a fourth. Lots of ideas keep spinning out of what I'm writing as I move along.

Alice Sharpe said...

I love that feeling of writing begetting ideas. Sounds neat.

Are you looking for an agent for this?

Karen Duvall said...

Alice, I will be looking for an agent, just not yet. I have to have the book done first. But I'm creating my lists of agents I want to approach and have narrowed it to an A list, a B list, and a C list. 8^) My top 3 choices are Rachel Vater, Jessica Faust, and Miriam Kriss. Sigh. A girl can dream...

Danita Cahill said...

Karen, I checked the follow-up-comments-sent-to-my-email button, and then when I got your comment about your dream agents, I hit reply and happily typed away. So, I think my answer will go to the chapter loop, where, sigh, it will probably make little sense at all. Anyway, let me rephrase here too, just to really muddy up the waters.

I only sent queries and partials to my A-list agents. Miriam Kriss is at the top of that list. In April I sent her a snail mail partial, which was the preferred method for her agency at that time. A couple months later, not having heard back yet, I surfed around and discovered Irene Goodman had changed her wish of submissions to email, with first 10pages of ms. pasted. Snail mail partials would no longer be considered. Yikes, what was a girl to do? I emailed and pasted. So poor Miriam, who, although rumored to be a speed reader, is obviously more buried in work because I sent her two queries about the same dang book...

At least I haven't seen a rejection from her coming through the mail in my SASE.