The Education of a Would Be Speculative Fiction Writer

85 thoughts on “The Education of a Would Be Speculative Fiction Writer”

  1. I want to give you the biggest e-hug. You have done all the things I’ve been sitting on doing…finishing a project, finding an agent, racking up rejection letters. But rejection means the work is being done. It’s progress. No one ever really talks about the hard parts of writing, so thank you.

    1. E-Hug accepted! (in Barney Stinson voice) thanks for the comment. i’m in holding mode right now on the agent-searching department. want to get a marketable manuscript and some more publishing notches on the belt; getting admitted to a Viable Paradise or Clarion sometime wouldn’t hurt. but all in good time… definitely a work in progress.

    1. love portals myself. grew up on them in YA. magical wardrobes to sorcery-science…portals are classic. unfortunately, rumble in the Publishing-verse has been an aversion to portals of late. and sometimes so much of this is pure marketability–writing to meet others needs rather than your own; tho’ all of that can change with the wind. makes self-publishing look quite appealing, if you have that skill. only reason i’m seriously considering removing the portal element, is b/c i think i can enhance the story, cut down some scenes and create a better world. if i thought removing them devalued or added nothing to the tale, trust me, i wouldn’t!

  2. Your journey sounds so familiar that I might have written it myself. Keep going.
    And I second the motion of portals. We like portals.
    When it comes to agents and the publishing world and tropes, you can’t really swallow everything they’re selling. I don’t know if you were following the industry at the time, but agents were saying vampires were dead as a sub-genre from the mid-90s. That’s how wrong they were.
    Fanfiction was purportedly a waste of time, but that got Fifty-shaded pretty convincingly, don’t you think?
    Write what you like. If you dig portals, then portal shit up. Your passion may lead to the twist that makes it new.

  3. You are being very generous. Your story of your process, journey and lessons is every bit as absorbing as your magnum opus promises to be in your description and excerpt. Thank you for this, and keep on keeping on.

  4. This is me, this is where I am. Right now. At this exact moment. No lie, no snark, I’m genuinely inspired (especially now that i’ve started gathering up rejections and need insipration). Honestly, you’ve always been one of my inspirations (whoops secret’s out!) and a post like this that lays every feeling bare, and the fact that I relate to it SO MUCH gives me nothing but more respect for you.

    Thanks for writing this, bruh.

    1. “Dude!” (all necessary emotions are wrapped up in that one term) I think we’re all right there, right now. Thanks for this. I’ve sampled your writing and its crazy imaginative! I expect some protean tale of Korean primal eldritch horror to come oozing and spilling up from the abyss and onto the blank spaces of a page from you any time now….

  5. Check it. We’re listening. I am so happy to have read the post. Its great having a Sistuh share her process. You inspire me to keep writing. Give Thanks!

  6. Seriously?! I like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, but he is no more the god Ra than Benedict Cumberbatch is Khan Noonian Singh!!! How are they going to explain an Egyptan god looking like a Viking, I’d like to know. Really. It would be a tutorial in torturously twisty thinking, it would.

    I hope that fantasy novel/series gets published. Based on your sample, I want to see more of Sekhmet’s cubs

  7. I think your concept and image are fantastic. They deserve a well-written book. I would recommend reading some of the Ramses series by CXhristian Jacq for examples of how to work Egyptian magic into the cultural setting and keep it real. He’s an Egyptologist. I always recommend good research for fiction, in this case research on Sekmet which I assume you have already done.

    Publishers are old hat these days. I suggest releasing it yourself. Oh and I agree, a Nordic looking Ra is just wrong. I thought the series SG-1 did a good job of casting actors to play Ancient Egyptians. They weren’t just a specific colour, but had a particular set of features that made them believable.

    1. Charlton,
      thanks much for the comment and the suggestions. will definitely check it out! my library is still littered with books on ancient Egypt, a place that has fascinated since I was a kid…so seemed an obvious setting for a story. the idea of self-publishing remains an arrow in my quiver; just not a responsibility i can take on at present. the casting of ancient Egyptians has always been *complex*. but yes, in this upcoming film’s case, it seems blatantly off the mark!

  8. As a reader, it is a real education to read the journey that authors have to take. It seems a shame that more publishers don’t take a chance on something a bit different, as lots of genres are crying out for some diversity. The drawing is gorgeous and would look so great on a book cover.

  9. I really enjoyed this post!

    It would be helpful to define the acronyms in your article, for those who are not familiar. I can only assume WOC stands for “women of color” or that SWFA stands for “science fiction writers association”?

    Thanks!

  10. I really enjoyed this post!

    It would be helpful to define the acronyms in your article, for those who are not familiar. I can only assume WOC stands for “women of color” or that SWFA stands for “science fiction writers association”?

    Thanks!

  11. I have taken a similar journey creatively, only with music rather than words. Just started a blog here a week and a half ago. Saw your post on the Daily Post. I like what I read and will return and finish when I’m settled enough on WP to stop surfing around and spend actual reading time.
    I’d appreciate if you would visit my blog and maybe advise me as I’m really new at this and feel a bit lost.
    Thanks,
    gjk

    1. Thanks for the read! I do think the journey can be transferred across artistic genres. As you impute on your blog, its a daily struggle to get the imagination working over the soul-crushing monster known as The Grind… yet that’s the first challenge, as the rest becomes getting your creation to be recognized and communicating it to the masses. will check out your blog from time to time. welcome to WP! hope you stick around.

      1. Thanks for visiting. I’m still learning my way around, but it seems a nice neighborhood. Visit again when you have a minute and write a mindmovie, or a scene, or…….. however you hear it.

  12. I am so, so smart. 🙂 Started my journey from a completely opposite side from you, writing poems, flash fiction, short stories, posting all that stuff on my blog, trying to get some feedback. I suspect I’ll end up at the same place….If I ever get that far, which I doubt.
    I find it educational to read other people’s experiences, trials and tribulations…It helps keeping my delusion in check. But I believe you must stay true to yourself and keep writing, no matter how many times you are rejected. After all, to us it is art and to them it is business. Write and learn, be persistent and grow. Just don’t give up.
    Maybe I suck at this, maybe I don’t. Maybe I’ll never get my chance. But every time I release a poem or a story into the world, I feel good.
    In the meantime, I’ll keep my regular job. 🙂

  13. This is amazing. I’m really amazed at your artistry and I’m a writer myself but my characters are based in Japan. But please contact me when this becomes public. I really want to read this so badly.

  14. I made the mistake of attempting a novel as my first wriitng project. Boy, was it terrible. I can’t even read it myself. Good luck with getting your opus(es) out there!

  15. So glad to have found this! I’m going to ask, because I don’t recall seeing mention of it in your writing, but are you also considering self-publishing? It seems to me you have something extraordinary that could do quite well along ‘non-traditional’ routes to the masses. Congratulations on ‘rediscovering’ what had been if not lost, then set aside for a minute…

    These Nubian eyes will be watching!

    1. thanks for reading. self-publishing… thought on it, but no easy road to travel. that’s a serious commitment of time & resources. the trend today for some is a hybrid approach–get a book published, or establish a name w/published short stories, then perhaps think about self-publishing. and of course, there are smaller imprints to work with. think i’ll probably have to see which path works best.

      by the way, some dope and inspirational photos on your page!

      1. Thanks for checking my virtual place out! Truly appreciate it.
        Yes, it is a tightrope to walk on when it comes to finding the best way to publish written works today… I’m right there with you trying to find the best way for me. I’ve finished a three hundred page plus novel, but the next step is one to carefully consider!
        I’ll tell you though, the more I think on it, the more I’m convinced the answer is to create my own wholly original path! Do something they’ve never seen before… hmmmm???

        Best of luck to you in your creativity!

  16. Having read your post (the words ‘science fiction’ in particular catching my eyes), I find myself noticing my own journey (albeit I am several steps behind).

    In particular, how writing styles change over time. I wrote a lengthy Star Trek vs Star Wars fan fiction a decade ago, and when I go back to it, I cringe slightly. I’ve since written stuff I am far more proud of, including stuff I would ponder publishing, but I have no idea how to do that or how I would handle rejection.

    1. thanks for the rea!. first off, if you’re still writing–that is great! keep doing it. that’s the biggest part after all. as for how to get your work out there–lots of places to submit your work for free or for payment. http://www.ralan.com/ is a good place to find a few spots. if you’re willing to spring for the yearly fee, https://duotrope.com/ is worth if for anyone thinking of submissions. i think every writer is fearful about putting their creations out there. rejections and criticisms sting–no matter how thick a skin. BUT… if you never put it out there, well… no one ever gets to see it. my personal suggestion- seek out a good writing group, preferably into genre (SF, F, etc). submit your stories to them first. get some constructive feedback, praise and criticism in a comfortable space. then when you’re ready to submit to publishers, you can feel more confident. good luck!

      1. Thank you very much for your reply and your links! I shall check them out! I have some stuff up on places like Movellas – but it’s a site dominated by One Direction fan girls (though there are some really talented writers there).

  17. Boy that sounds familiar, but at least you didn’t finish it and then get it stollen. Like a big dick I wrote a book with an actual pen and pieces of paper, and carried it everywhere in a folder. Obviously it got stollen because I became so comfortable with the idea that I started keeping my credit cads and cash in there too. Still pisses me off. Plenty more where that came from, and plenty of rejections, from an early age. I feel for you. Keep writing 🙂

    1. nice write up. sounds very Asimovian (I, Robot- 3 laws) or perhaps the era of “thinking machines” before the Butlerian Jihad in Frank Herbert’s universe. pondering AI and humanity’s future (or non-future in a competition w/our sentient creations) is a tried, tested and still very popular trope in sci-fi. probably one of the more original takes on it I’ve seen lately is Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice …the tale of a conscious star ship who has been reduced to a terrifying existence as a mere “human.” check it out maybe.

  18. The most daunting part of writing, or any creative industry, is learning you must be both auteur and business person rolled into one. I’ve similarly worked on honing my craft, and pushing toward better story-telling, and think I’m almost ready for at least the minor leagues.
    From what I’ve seen, the keys to success are perseverance and learning from mistakes. I always appreciate when others share their journeys, and allow others to learn from them.
    Also, your older draft is intriguing and worthy of polishing.

  19. Reblogged this on boxedinwit and commented:
    My goodness you’ve got modivation! As I read this I couldn’t help but feel as if you were writing about me! I too have a series novel that no matter how long I’m away from it, come back and still love the characters and the story. I only wish I had your luck with an agent! Well, I’m not too worried. I will continue to write! Thank you for the inspiration!

  20. I’m a striving writer and that is the scariest part to me. Wanting to be done with writing. And it’s my life. The thing that makes me happiest! I’m glad you found your way back to it because I can tell you are good at it.

  21. This is such an amazing post, I would love to publish some books later myself and your story was kind of a shock. I didn’t think it would be this hard, thank you for the more realistic view on trying to get a book published. I think a lot of people needed that, I certainly did. But most of all that you are still optimistic about the future. That is so inspiring!

  22. Just being able to write that much and keep the story going let alone interesting is an amazing achievement. As the saying goes ‘we all have one book in us’ but then what? We all have a masterpiece to tell and even then it’s edited to make readable and ironically the more polished and easily readable it is the less effort it seems went into it. To manage 2 books of 4 book length is huge.

    I adore the artwork, it’s nice that you have that as a keepsake of something so important to you.

  23. Excellent post…you just dragged me, kicking and screaming, down Memory Lane. I wonder how many of us speculative fiction writers have old manuscripts hidden under our beds (OK, on a flash drive somewhere) that reflect how much we didn’t know when we started out.

    Maybe it’s time for universities to spend a little more time talking about the business side of writing so that folks like us don’t make prospective agents and edits do a spit take when they see the word count of “Book 1”?

    Or maybe each of us needs to make these mistakes so that we can evolve naturally?

    Thanks for sharing, and best of luck with what’s ahead!

  24. Wow! Amazing what getting Freshly Pressed can do to your stats! For everyone that’s liked the article or commented their well-wishes or shared similar experiences, thanks greatly. Nothing feeds the muse of a writer more than knowing an audience is out there. I probably won’t get to reply to each and every one here (but I’m going to soon make an effort!) but again, thank you, sincerely.

  25. First of all I really enjoyed reading your post, I can only hope I am as tenacious with any of my story ideas, secondly after seeing those commissioned artworks it makes me think your story could be adapted into a comic-book series. I hear they are somewhat popular these days 😉

  26. I throughly enjoyed reading this. I’m hoping to be a writer and have been working on a series for a while now and this is a real eye opener to what happens after you finish the story. Thank you so much! 🙂
    The artwork by the way, is absolutely brilliant! I love it!

  27. Did you ever read the series “Malazan: Book of the Fallen”? It’s a recently completed series by a former Canadian anthropologist named Steve Erikson. He’s constructed one of the most complex fantasy worlds I’ve ever experienced, with so many different tribes and civilizations. Especially interesting is that many of his characters are PoC. The original Emperor of the Malazan Empire is Dal Honese, which is race of dark-skinned people, and many of the other major characters in the series like Quick Ben and Kalam Mekhar are also black. The series is not quite Game of Thrones level of popularity, but it’s up there with Brandon Sanderson levels of readership.
    The only drawback is sometimes there are too many characters, and the writer isn’t as good as George R. R. Martin at making readers feel the character’s emotions.
    But overall, great series, with lots and lots of PoC characters and many varied civilizations and a host of interesting ideas brought over from his days as an anthropologist. You might like it and get some inspiration from it if you don’t already know about it!
    Keep writing!

    1. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Malazan. And I’ve been a sucker for long-winded fantasy tomes since Eddings’s Belgariad and Malloreon and Jordan’s Wheel of Time. It’s on the “to read” list…though in the coming years Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive will likely suck up all my time! Thanks for the read and the recc tho.

  28. Oh boy, do I ever feel your pain… especially with the whole ‘I’ve got an agent! I’ve arrived… oh, wait’ thing. That said, I now desperately want to read this book, if that’s any consolation.

    The one thing I’d say is that however many people say no, you only need one person to say yes. That happened to me this year with something I’d almost given up hope on.

    And that artwork is amazing.

  29. I applaud all your hard work. Beyond all I laud your perseverance, that will to not give up and especially not give up on your WoC. Also, thank you for keeping it real, you make people like myself feel less alone. And…your writing is stellar! Surely by now you’ve won a book contract in a war bid, topped with a movie deal, but you can’t announce it publicly yet. 😉 Really well done, the blog post, the journey, and the novel writing. I look forward to more.

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