Today, Cathryn Grant will be talking to us about how going Indie with her debut novel, The Demise of the Soccer Moms, has “changed her life.” Last week, Andre K. Baby spoke about his debut thriller, and next week Teresa Frohock will speak about her upcoming debut novel.
Cathryn Grant’s short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Her short story, “I Was Young Once” received an honorable mention from Joyce Carol Oates in the 2007 Zoetrope All-story Short Fiction contest.
In her first Suburban Noir novel, THE DEMISE OF THE SOCCER MOMS, a provocative single mother permanently alters the lives of four Silicon Valley soccer moms. It’s available now as an eBook and in paperback at Amazon.com and Smashwords. Her second novel, BURIED BY DEBT, will be released in November 2011.
49 Days as an Indie Author – how my life has changed.
The title of this post is probably a bit melodramatic and if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a fiction writer, it’s to avoid melodrama. Well, there’s also show-don’t-tell, move the story forward, give your characters back story, interview your characters, read your manuscript aloud, use meaningful dialog, don’t open with the weather unless you’re brilliant, have a firm grasp of POV, ensure you have internal and external conflict, use telling details, linger in the scene. And there are three hundred things missing from that list.
Fiction is a mystical blend of craft elements from which emerges a story that resonates with readers. It feels like magic. It takes a lot of practice, as every writer knows.
Last week I was interviewed on a few blogs, and in my interview with Christi Craig, she asked me how long it took me to write The Demise of the Soccer Moms. I was too embarrassed to tell her, and just said it took a “very long time”. In retrospect, I think I was too coy because as was pointed out in the comments, everyone defines a “very long time” differently.
So how long did it take? I worked on that novel for six years.
In fairness to my part slacker, part stressed-out, part angst-ridden, perfectionist self, I wrote the first draft of two other novels during that time and quite a few short stories. But still, SIX years?
The reason it took so long is simple. I’d written several novels before this one that weren’t ready for prime time. As I started The Demise of the Soccer Moms, I still had a lot to learn (I still do, but the learning curve was steeper). I participated in a writers’ workshop, took classes, read books on craft, did exercises, and as I received feedback, I had to keep rewriting. Then, my ability improved, so of course I wasn’t satisfied and had to go back again. Some would have abandoned the project as yet another “practice” novel, but I loved that story and couldn’t let it go. So yes, six years.
At this point, I’ve learned enough about the craft and found my rhythm and a work style that I think will allow me to publish a novel every 11-12 months. So that six years of effort was worth every minute.
During those six years, the publishing industry went through enormous changes, leading me to decide indie was the best route for me. (I won’t talk about that since I’ve covered it in detail here and here.)
In the comments section of Christi’s blog, one writer said she wanted to focus just on writing rather than publishing and I responded that something strange had happened since I self published – I have more time to write. Another commenter wanted to know how that worked! It’s not that I have more hours in the day, and self-publishing does take a lot of hours, but I think what’s changed is my energy level and my focus.
I’ve always been an early morning writer and a slug in the evenings, but now I have a new-found energy after dinner. I think it comes from having my work out there, and from knowing I’m the only one responsible for my writing career. This energy lasts through the evening, allowing me to be productive during that time.
Even better, I know that I have to keep to a schedule in writing future novels and that’s helped me overcome most (not all) self-sabotage. Although I had a morning schedule for years, I can’t begin to describe how many ways I found to fritter away that time. Yes, step by step I did write stories and novels, but part of that six years was spent wasting precious weekend hours ranting to my husband about my novel, surfing the web during my writing time, doing projects for my day job that did not have to be done at 4:30 in the morning, moaning in my journal, more web surfing, staring at the wall, and checking email.
In addition to the energy that comes from taking control of my writing, there’s a freedom I haven’t felt for years. I never saw this before I self-published, although I should have. There was a subtle, undetected tendency to write for publishers, agents, critics, and the market. Now, I’m writing for readers. If you’d asked me before, I would have said emphatically that I was writing for readers, but there was that underlying awareness of working toward publication that I think restrained my voice.
Now, the words pour out of me with more freedom. I tell my stories with less concern for what others think. Of course it still matters whether readers will enjoy them. And I don’t mean to imply that I’m taking less care with all those details of craft and style. I’m just not trying so hard and that gives incredible energy and feels, strangely, like more time.
My life has changed in a very significant way. In another interview last week, Linda Cassidy Lewis asked when I started calling myself a writer. I said, when I started committing time every day to my writing. But now, I don’t just call myself a writer, I feel like a writer.
Thank you, Cathryn for your wonderful post!
We wish you continued success!! We look forward to future novels!
You can learn more about Cathryn, The Demise of the Soccer Moms, and her fiction at her website, Suburban Noir.
Cathryn loves talking about writing and her experiences, so please leave a comment for her!
Cathryn’s flash fiction has been published at EveryDayFiction.com and at her website under Flash Fiction for your cocktail hour.