The new year is edging in. Exactly one year ago, I quit a job to become a full-time writer. Then I discovered that being a full-time writer just isn't a practical idea for a new writer without an outside source of regular income. People become full-time writers after they're well-known and well-established, with a pile of published books under their belts and royalties slipping penny-by-penny into their bank accounts.
Following my dream lead me to a full-time job doing what I love: editing. Not novels, no - for now, that remains a hobby practiced mainly on my own work - but fixing mistakes and rephrasing sentences for greater clarity in a company that values my work. My own writing has gotten better. And I can afford my rent while spending more than $10 a week on groceries. The former may be more important in the long run, but latter is pretty awesome, too.
More importantly, I've realized that I'm just beginning the road to being an author. I've learned a lot. And I expect to continue to learn a lot. Joining the RWA (Romance Writers of America) and the local chapter thereof is 100% the second-best thing I've done since deciding to take this path. (The best? Actually finishing the book. The third-best? Listening to the feedback I've gotten and using it to revise said first book.)
I no longer expect my first finished novel to be my first published one; most published authors to whom I've spoken have a first manuscript collecting dustbunnies under their beds. I'm revising it, pulling out the editing scalpel with the tools I've learned this year, and making it better. But meanwhile, I'm working on another story. Because the secret to being a successful author is to never stop writing.
I may find an agent and get published by 2013 (you never know). But I'm not counting on it. If there's one thing I've learned in the past year, it's this: In the world of publishing, twelve months in is almost new. I've got the rest of my life to make a career. I've got a box full of ideas, plenty of enthusiasm, good role models, great friends, and plenty of time.
Sometimes, it's good to be the baby.
What have you learned in the past year? What possibilities have opened in the year, because of risks you've taken in the last?