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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Bottom Line of Living & Writing


Nicole Young is the author of the Patricia Amble Mysteries. She resides in Michigan with her children, cat, and tiny Yorkie. Nicole launched her writing career in 2004 with an American Christian Fiction Writer’s Noble Theme Contest win for best of show, which featured an excerpt from the Patricia Amble Mystery Series.

Along with writing and parenting, the author enjoys horseback riding and performing vocals and fiddle with a gospel bluegrass band. Find more about Nicole at her website.



The Bottom Line of Living and Writing

With three published books under my belt, I feel as if I should be able to ease into some ‘established author’ comfort zone. But the truth is, writing is like any line of work – you have to produce in order to get paid. For the small percentage of authors who can make a comfortable living from their books, it’s a no-brainer where to focus their time. But for the rest of us, writing to be published can be a luxury afforded only by those who have a reliable alternate source of support, whether a hard-working spouse or a full-time job.

I found this out the hard way. I’d written Love Me If You Must, Kill Me If You Can, and Kiss Me If You Dare when newly single, living off an advance, settlement money, and whatever miscellaneous income I could muster from my bed & breakfast and vacation rental home business. I was certain the Patricia Amble Mystery Series would wow the multitudes and royalties would come pouring in, supporting my children’s food, shelter, and clothing habit.

But after completing my third manuscript last fall, I found myself without the income I desired, without a contract, without a saleable idea, and grasping at anything that might produce an advance. I drove my agent crazy with half-baked ideas, uncooked proposals, and raw one-liners.

The Big D --Desperation -- rarely acts as a catapult. More often, it starves our minds, sending us down rabbit trails that don’t pay off. I knew I had to do something different if I were going to continue writing.

So I did that drastic, last-resort thing. I got a job.
The relief was immediate. A barrage of desperate ideas slowed to a trickle of well-defined thoughts. I now leave my agent in peace while I slowly, steadily edit a novel in a new romantic mystery series. I get a sound night’s sleep knowing that while my name may not appear on another book cover this year, I’ll have electricity to recharge my laptop and enough new ideas to charge up my story.

I don’t write this as a bucket of cold water in the face of hopeful authors, but rather as a reality check for creative minds that veer toward optimism like a racecar with a blown tire. Slow down. Recalibrate. A great novel doesn’t have to be written on an empty stomach. Let J.K. Rowling keep her rags to riches story while the rest of us live out our own unique plots.

Maybe for now your story takes a sideline to the bottom line. Don’t whine about it. Embrace it. Put the emotional drama on the page where it belongs while you tend to the matters of daily living. Your reward will be the book contract that’s waiting just ahead.


Tish Amble is dead--or so she's been told. On the run from a backwoods Michigan drug ring that wants her dead, Tish Amble finds herself in sunny California with an assumed identity and a mysterious benefactor. All she wants to do is lay low for awhile, then return to her family--including her almost-fiancé Brad. Instead, she ends up trying to start a normal life, going back to work on the college degree she postponed long ago, and restoring a block of homes. But her past catches up with her. Someone sabotages her work, and Brad hasn't called in months. Should she return to Michigan to find out what has happened? Or would a homecoming be more painful--and deadly--than she's ready for?

2 comments:

Gina Holmes said...

I think a job is a great outlet for creativity. It is for me. I work full-time too and mother two boys. I feel sorry for myself time to time because there's seldom a slither of free time but the trade-off is the lack of that desperation you speak of. What I dont' want to be is someone who HAS to write so many books a year to support my family, because in many cases you start writing things that aren't that good, aren't of your heart, aren't blessing anyone really. What's the point then?

Hang in there Nicole, God's got a plan that will awe you! Thanks for being so candid.

authornicoleyoung said...

Hi Gina,
See my website www.nicoleyoung.net for the complete version of this blog. Three hope-filled paragraphs are missing from the post above.
Thanks for seeing past the ending.
Nicole Young