I have many friends who want to write novels. They’ll email me from time to time or call, always saying, “someday I’m going to get around to that book.”
Several of these friends are closing in on retirement age, and say maybe they should start writing a book now, so they’ll “get in the swing of it,” giving themselves another source of income after they’re done with their jobs. Some of them have asked for help, and I’ve tried to provide it. Others have attended writing seminars I’ve hosted, taking copious notes and yet not discovering the three magic words.
Someday, they say, they’ll start that awesome science fiction or fantasy tale.
They invariably ask me how I manage to write every day. Easy answer: my “someday” is today. I decided a lot of todays ago that I wanted to write. And rather than think about it, or plan when in the future I’d start a novel, I sat down and started typing.
Today is my “someday.”
Today has always been my “someday.”
And tomorrow will be my “someday” too.
I think that’s about the best advice I can give an aspiring writer: Make Today Your Someday.
I started attending science fiction conventions in the mid-1980s, and I’d listen to the pros: Mike Resnick, Joe Haldeman, George R.R. Martin, Timothy Zahn, and Mike Stackpole. They talked about the craft of writing, plotting, the publishing world, and more. Admittedly, I learned more from them than I did from college writing professors. I still have those old notebooks, and I page through them for inspiration once in a while.
The thing that impressed me most was their persistence and dedication, their drive to write well. I still read books by those SF greats, and I’ve had the good fortune to occasionally edit their short fiction. How awesome a life is that? Awesome because today is my someday.
One of the things I seized upon from all those SF conventions was just how long it took from starting a novel to seeing it on a shelf. It could take years…from outlining the book to writing it, to submitting it to agents (where it could sit for months), to an agent accepting the manuscript and submitting it to publishers (where it could sit for months), to when it got purchased and scheduled for the New York publisher’s calendar (which could take a year or two). Small press is a different matter, and the subject for a future blog.
And all of the above was predicated on the assumption your manuscript would get accepted at each stage. It could also get tossed back at you as simply rejected, or if you were lucky they merely asked for rewrites…which adds more months to the endeavor.
Mike Resnick, Joe Haldeman, George R.R. Martin, Timothy Zahn, Mike Stackpole, and more taught me that writing was a long game…a matter of years.
And so quite a long while ago I made today my someday. I figured that since writing was indeed a long game, and that it could take a long while to go from page one of my book to seeing it on a bookstore shelf, I had better get at it.
My thirty-fifth novel comes out this fall, three of them are with WordFire. Yeah, I been at it a while…
…thanks to the inadvertent nudge Mike, Joe, George, Timothy, and Mike gave me.
Maybe my nudge of MAKE TODAY YOUR SOMEDAY will help someone else.
See, those are the three magic words I mentioned in my second paragraph: Today is someday.