Writing For Love — By Cedar Sanderson

*Yes, I’m still trying to finish Noah’s Boy.  On the good side, my health really is better.  I’m starting to look at the TBR pile and going “mmm” instead of “Not fiction, not fiction, it engages emotions and I’m TIRED.”  And today I walked the usual three miles, without undue huffing and puffing.  I PROMISE to get you a post of Witchfinder, and maybe the whole end by Sunday evening at the latest. — The con in town is this weekend, and I’m booked solid through Saturday.  I’ll take the laptop, like when don’t I, but…  I SHOULD be done with NB by then.  We’ll see.  These might be the longest cursed fifty pages EVER.  Anyway, meanwhile give a kind ATH welcome to Cedar Sanderson.  Now, I don’t agree with EVERYTHING she has to say, but …  I’ll write my own opinion on Saturday, shall I?  (Possibly between panels!)*

 

On a misty January morning I took my youngest daughter to see the Hobbit. We went in partial costume,  both of us wearing floor length cloaks, and we went because she had started writing a story, and then quit. All of my girls have written stories at one point or another, and they never finish them, a problem I had for years.

I took her to this particular movie so I could show her how a great book starts: writing for love. I have been looking forward to seeing the Hobbit movie, I’ve read it many times. But taking her to see it was a snap decision. You see, I try to encourage my kids to read, and write. I thought taking her to see the movie would help with both. After the movie we talked about Tolkien, writing that timeless tale, and within the move, Bilbo writing a story down for Frodo. She started telling me about her story right after that. Will she finish it? Time will tell.

My own love affair with writing started with reading. I used to read a lot, sometimes a few books a day. When my children were born I had gotten mostly, er, clean of the habit. But nursing an infant and tending a toddler meant I was stuck at home all the time, and I needed to read. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to the library, definitely could not afford to feed my ‘habit’ with a growing family, so I turned to the internet.

At some point, I came across the concept that if I’d run out of things I liked reading, I could write what I wanted to read. I’ve told myself stories in my head for a long time, so it was a natural progression to start putting them onto the computer. Paper and I don’t work well for long stories. Long story short, I wrote off and on for a decade, but never sought publication.

During that time, I’d been told that the short story market was dying, and that it would take years for a novel-length manuscript to see an editor’s desk, much less acceptance and publication. So I metaphorically put my stories in the desk drawer and closed it. I was going through a very dark phase in my life, and for a long time I could only cling to my children and weather the storm.

When the light came out from behind the clouds, I could see that putting the stories in a desk drawer was not my only option. I started to send my short stories out for publication. I got involved with a writing group. At the insistence of my eldest daughter, I wrote a novel. Then my writing group encouraged me in the world of self-publishing.

I’m pretty stubborn, lots of people will tell you that. My life hasn’t always been peaches and cream, so if I can do it myself, I will. Self-publishing, the ability to be my own publisher and have control over my writing, that seemed ideal. I took the bit in my teeth and ran with it.

I now have a handful of short stories available through amazon, and more coming. I just finished editing and creating a cover for my first novel, the one I wrote for my eldest daughter. Last couple of months, I finished a short story and a novella and will have those out soon. And to top it off, I did actually sell a few stories over the last year. One is out in a print anthology (it’s a very short story) and I’ve now been able to sign my name to books. Which is addictive. I highly recommend book signing!

I’ll never earn a living as a writer. I don’t even expect it to be a lot of income. What it is, is inspiring to my children. All four of them are writing, at levels appropriate to their ages, which is sometimes humorous to read. I know they write because they see me writing, they sometimes get to read the stories, and they see that I love to write. If nothing else, that’s why I write.

Sometimes I write around them. Literally, in the years I typed one handed while nursing. I often write in spite of them, one sentence at a time as I referee fighting, cleaning, and feeding times. Once in a while I write because of them, creating stories I know they will like. But if they write, and read, and grow up valuing art the way I think they will, it’s worth everything, and that’s why I write, ultimately, for my children. Telling them stories for love.

64 responses to “Writing For Love — By Cedar Sanderson

  1. I started to write the time we went on vacation and I had to return ALL my books a week beforehand and not get any more out. I was going into word withdrawal.

  2. I started a novel in my teens. I started another one in my twenties. Both reached a couple of hundred pages before I quit. About seven years ago I started another one. This one I finished and sent off to three publishers. It took forever, maybe three or four years, to finish the first draft. The second novel, I finished the first draft over two NaNos. Learning to finish is hard, but once you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Revising is nowhere near as terrifying as finishing the thing.

    • I made several stabs at a novel before one snuck on a mask and showed up, claiming to be a novelette. Later it revealed — twice — that I hadn’t gotten to the ending when I thought I had. And I had to go revise it twice to put everything I had left out in hopes of keeping it short enough to be publishable.

  3. I have been writing and telling stories since I was four years old. Before I could write, I used to hand people letters and then they would ask me what it said. I always had an elaborate story for each person (personalized). I had my first poem published when I was ten in the church newsletter. I don’t even remember it.

    I am also a rabid reader. (more appropriate than avid). I devour books. When I finished my English Lit degree I was 40 and I had been sending poems and stories to literary magazines. It was the surprise in my genes that changed my focus. Before I as doing it as a hobby or when the muse struck. After my stay in the hospital and two years recovering (not fully recovered yet). I began writing. A few of my poems were in a chapbook with a group of poets. Then I found writing sites on the net. I wrote book reviews and stories. My friend convinced me to blog.

    My hubby had been trying to convince me to send out my stories, but I hadn’t felt like I was ready. After I became ill, I realized that death was only one heartbeat, one breath away. I had to get my writings out– NOW. Self-publishing has been ideal for me too. I have four novels, several short story collections, poetry collections, and a medical biography (how I was dx’d with a rare disease type). I don’t sell in the same league as Sarah, but I do sell a few a month.

    On the other hand I still get sick easily and I am dealing with illness more than writing. But, writing has given me back my brain that was killed by the chemo. ;-)

    Currently I am editing a short story/novelette type, one book is coming out in serialized novel on my blog, and my second book in the EJ series is in the writing stages.

  4. I started writing when I was in 4th Grade. However, all of my stories looked a lot like Star Wars knockoffs, and in 6th Grade, knockoffs of V. Despite lack of originality, I never lost my love of it, and I finally had a few original ideas when I was a teenager…and a few good original ideas in my late 20s. ;-)

    • Heh. I wrote my first story in 5th grade. It was a Narnia knock-off.

    • I started as a teenager with newspaper editorials (I didn’t know better) and an aviation column in my college paper (they needed filler). Also wrote stories and poems starting at age 13 and tossed or burned them all. Then I wrote nothing but non-fiction and aviation stories until the dam broke in 2008.

      • I’d like to point out that if ANYONE publishes my poems after death, I’ll come back and haunt them SO HARD.

        • So worthy it:
          “Dude, what’s that angry, shimmery thing in the corner?”
          “Eh, just a writer I know. I published some of her poetry after she died, and now she won’t leave me alone.”
          “Bummer.”
          “Yeah, but at least I won’t ever need a night light.”

        • Wayne Blackburn

          I’ve never been haunted. Maybe I should get in touch with your husband and make arrangements for, what, 50 years from now?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Good and while you’re haunting me, you can tell the stories you didn’t get the chance to write. [Wink]

          • For those inclined to laugh off such a threat, consider the reality of living a life accompanied by a running critique of every action, activity and expression as performed by Athena Hera Sinestra:

            You call that properly dressed? You look like something the cat would kick sand over. Don’t talk with your mouth full and for Eden’s sake, sit up straight and get your elbows off the table! I’ve seen trained seals handle knife and fork better than you do! What’s that trash you’re reading — can’t you find anything with substance? Poetry is fine for typhoidic pansies but if you had a real pair you would read space opera …

            There are good reasons human folklore is laden with cautionary tales warning against the dangers of getting what you’ve wished for, such as the guy who asked for a twelve-inch prick.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              One reason I am not concerned is because I’m not sure it’s possible to haunt me. My mother hasn’t shown up, even though my niece’s son claims to play with her all the time. Incidentally – she died when he was only a week old, so he didn’t know her, yet he gave a pretty good description when he told his mother he was playing with a “girl who looks like Ariel (from The Little Mermaid)”.

              And I am certain she has things to say to me. Not necessarily nice ones.

              • I heard from someone that you need to have a crack in your aura to see certain things. (or feel them). I don’t know… I do know that I can feel things that happened in a building if it was traumatic enough. I see shadows that aren’t there… and other things. I hear voices (although you should have seen me on high-dosages of prednisone– that was a scary, scary ride). No– I am not related to “Son of Sam” or have voices telling me to kill evil people. I keep that for my books.

        • Burn them.

          Or, expose the computer disks to a high powered magnet

    • Tolkien knock-offs here.

  5. As a reader, I’m glad that authors do finish stories. ;)

  6. I thuink I was forty-five before the idea that I could learn to write well enough to publish wormed its way into my brain. I blame it all on Baen’s Bar.

    • I was six. I thought it would be easy…

    • I wanted to when I was about seven (about the same time I discovered Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders) and then spent several years comparing my writing to what I read in book, and shelved the dream for about a decade. My understanding of the publishing world was naive and my understanding of the process was simplistic. I have a better understanding now, though my process is spotty. Working on that.

    • I blame it on Baen’s Bar, too :-D

    • Am I the only non Barfly in this neck of the woods? I’m starting to get that feeling.

      • I haven’t been to Baen’s bar either-

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Nor I.

        • I suspect at one time that is where the majority of Sarah’s blogreaders came from (I know that’s where I did ;) ) but she has so many irons in the fire nowadays that they come from all sorts of places :)

        • I found her when I was going to Dean W. Smith’s blog– ;-) I was trying to come up with a better way to get noticed. I just keep writing and hope that eventually I’ll do better on the selling front.

      • I don’t think I’ve ever poked my nose into that corner of the ‘net either. Although, if so many people here like it, I may have to stop by…

        • If you do drop in to Sarah’s Diner. It’s semi-abandoned, but if more of you loonies hang there, I’ll come and play.

          • I’ll check it out, then. I have a vague memory of trying to figure out what it was when I first discovered Baen, but I think I found the Honor Harrington series before I figured out how to register for the bar, and, well…

            (It really is *devious* the way they have the first books of long-running series like that for free, you know. Crack for readers.)

            • O.O *Horrifying thought* hey, that thing where they’re now selling baen books from third parties and had to jack up some of the prices doesn’t mean they’ll have to do away with the Free Library and the cds, does it?

              • Nope. In fact, Draw One In The Dark is going on the Free Library.

                As for the prices… they’re still lower than most other houses.

                • Oh, whew. If it weren’t for someone on TvTropes linking to the Library, I would be a sad girl with a much sorter reading list. (And a book budget spent mostly on Amazon, probably. For all that I’ve got a kindle, I’d eyeball at least half of my books as coming from Gutenberg or Baen instead of the Mother-Company).

      • Me neither either, too.

      • I checked in there a couple of weeks ago for the first time, mostly because of all the references to it here. Haven’t been back yet, but likely will.

        • The Bar got too large and unweildy for a while. It’s working pretty well now, but a lot of people haven’t returned. I figure we’re here or on facebook.

        • A lot of these people came here, because the bar was down for a while, so people followed me here (it’s the bread crumbs. I roll them in chocolate.)

          But a lot of all y’all are new too. I think Cyn honest to blogness found me through Amazon.

          • maybe– my brain is working properly this morning– I still think Dean and Kris cause I found them first–

            • Ah. But I rarely comment there. I put my blog at the back of my stories, and you told me once you’d followed the link…

              • Umm… you are probably right– although I think someone had to have directed me to one of your stories because (sorry) I don’t think I would have found it on my own. Human wave is hard to find— I blame all my forgetfulness on chemo (which is true because I used to have a brain that didn’t forget much– not always good when you can bear a grudge for years)

                • Or you were picking up free fiction. I do try to seed a lot of free shorts… :D

                  And Cyn, I don’t have chemo to blame, and I don’t have a memory anymore.

                  • Oh yea– I could have done that– I don’t pickup too many free shorts lately because of the writing. (Plus I do a lot of checking shorts in another website –small payment– and it drains me of my ability to enjoy shorts lol) I have been playing lumosity to help with my memory problems. It says that I have a great memory, but I have a problem accessing the memories. ;-)

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Frankly, I learned about the Baen Bar here. I came here when either Stephen Green or Mark Alger linked a post on Facebook. It may have been the first Human Wave post, last year.

      • Nah. I wasn’t one for a LONG time. Only when I got my conference…

      • I’m not. All I need is YA time sink in my life.

        M

      • I haven’t been to Baen’s Bar either. I discovered Sarah when she guest-posted at Insty a couple of times. I’ve found a home here. I don’t think Sarah could get rid of me short of locking me out.

  7. Worth telling your daughter: the Hobbit (and LotR) began as letters written by Tolkein to his children, IIRC. Per Wikipedia:

    Tolkien abandoned The Lord of the Rings during most of 1943 and only re-started it in April 1944, as a serial for his son Christopher Tolkien, who was sent chapters as they were written while he was serving in South Africa with the Royal Air Force.

    • I did know this, RES, and that is how my novel started – I sent my daughter the first short story in snippets while she was at summer camp.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        This seems to be a reasonably common happening. On the other end of the spectrum, most of the time that I get an urge to write anything, it is usually in response to having read something, and wondering, “But what if it happened this way?”

        • The other two novels in progress (three? not sure about one of them) started as characters walking into the forefront of my mind and starting to tell me their stories. I couldn’t get them to shut up, so I wrote them. Now, I must learn how to finish them.

  8. Why aren’t all dragons alchemists?

    Hey, maybe they are, and that’s why they need the maidens. To hold their testtubes.

    • I have this sudden vision of a dragon wearing safety goggles, as well as reading glasses perched at the end of her snout, peering at a thermocouple read-out while breathing fire in order to keep the heat even, as a gal in a leather apron over a semi-princess dress (snug sleeves are safer) takes notes in between adding material to a beaker.

      You know, that would be a fantastic kid’s book! “The Adventures of Marie Furie, Alchemist.”

      • I’ve invented a piece of lab equipment. The Brass Maiden. It’s a flexible arrangement of clamps and rods which can be used to hold test tubes in any position or orientation. For those times when you just can’t find a good lab maiden.

        M

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Nah, no female dragon would be doing that sort of thing. They’d be ordering the male dragons to do all the work. On Dragonhome, the female dragons rule and that’s way so many male dragon *leave* Dragonhome.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        That WOULD be a good kid’s book. In fact, I can imagine it being a series.

    • You are a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad woman. I had a story about an alternate world in which all the dragons were metalsmiths…

    • You horrible person, you. Throwing ideas like that to my muse.