On Being a Writer

I decided to pursue writing as a valid and serious career option just a little over a year ago. I always wrote, messed around with stories and ideas, conducted long and intricate plays inside my head, but I had to make the decision to take myself seriously in order to stop self-sabotaging myself. And now it’s October, a year later, and I can’t believe how much has changed.

It must be the leaves turning brown and the days growing shorter that triggers the impulse to look back on the last months, to remember where I was a year ago: in the first quarter of By the Light of the Moon, then still titled Lakeside Rain, oscillating between hating every word I brought to the page, and not daring to believe I could actually finish it, even with the conscious, serious decision I had taken. I had a habit of talking it down until it sounded like little more than a smudge on my jeans; called it “the… you know, the thing.

Today, I am back to revising the thing, writing some new chapters, editing others, drawing maps – generally preparing it for eventual and improved re-release; and takes me back to sitting here a year ago, in a cloud of anxiety vapours and insecurities. I made mistakes in the publishing process, I jumped fast and hard and catapulted myself into a world that I didn’t know. And still, I’m here – in this moment – and all I can feel is grateful for everything that has happened to me, for the all the things I made happen in the last months.

And I’m not just talking about the fact that By the Light of the Moon was picked up and published, or about the dozen short stories I had accepted into anthologies, or the novella that will come out next month. All those were necessary for me to believe in myself, to give me the strength to say: “Hey, this is valid. I’m not there yet, I may not be there for another three years, but it’s valid choice for my life and I can get there.”

But the aspect that really changed is me.

I spent years being afraid of manuscripts. As much as I loved writing, actual manuscripts were  terrifying to me – they showed off so well where my writing lacked, and my resolve. They seemed endless and soul-crushing and definitely not something within my reach.

Now, I am juggling 4 at the same time and it feels glorious.

In the last 12 months, I wrote 3 novels (3 more in collaboration with my lovely Lorrie), a novella and 26 short stories. I am currently revising By the Light of the Moon, after I finished the first draft of my YA coming-of-age novel Where the Wind Settles last week. At the same time, I am outlining my nanowrimo novel, a rock & roll romance. I am also waiting on the publisher’s edits on my erotic romance novella Driftwood Deeds, so that I can go over those. Together with Lorrie, we are polishing our zombie apocalypse romance After Life Lessons in preparation for a second beta reader run, have the edited first draft of our new PNR series Forest Fires out with a group of amazing beta readers right now, and are starting to write the sequel.

I have to take a deep breath just listing it all like that. I don’t have to grab a calculator and rack up word counts to know that I never, never would have believed myself capable of this. And I actually had to take a step back to realize it. In my day to day life, I still feel like I am not writing enough even when I manage 2000 words a day, I still feel like I could do more, that I want to get better. But I think it’s important sometimes to look back at how much I actually accomplished, how deeply writing has become my life – every day, whether it’s hard or not, whether I face rejection or approval. This is what I really wanted when unfinished manuscripts loomed darkly, whispering their truth: that I wasn’t a writer. I just wanted to be one.

I am. I am now.


    • Aw, thank you Sybil. I have a tendency to only see accomplishment in others and not see it in myself (I mostly see lot’s of fault there lol) but I think we all should try at least from time time to time :).

      • That’s fantastic, Laila! You should be very proud of yourself!

        I hope you meet more of your goals in the next year too 😀

        And good luck with NaNoWriMo! I’m doing it too this year and will start planning my YA novel next week.

        • Aww thank you for stopping by Kelly! We should keep each other company during nano – it’s so much more fun that way! 😀

          • Sure! Not all my writing group friends are doing it this time, just 1 or 2, so it would be nice to follow your progress too (for motivation), lol!
            My Nano name is ‘Apricot Kelly’ if you want to add me…:D

  1. This is so inspirational. I am yet to take that final step into writing.. the confidence still isn’t there. But if I manage to acheive even half of what you have in one year I’d be so proud.

  2. Beautiful post. I’m really interested in the various ways you mention of feeling the writing doesn’t count. I totally do that thing where I make what I’m working on sound like “little more than the smudge on my jeans”—very well said, by the way. And I never feel I am writing enough, no matter how much I am actually writing. It’s really important to step back and see how much you’ve done. Congratulations on staying with it, even despite the minimizing your own brain seems to be doing (that is so similar to what my brain does). Adorable gifs, too! 🙂

    • Haha, I admit to doing some fanfiction in my youthful days. I was particularly partial to writing steamy love stories involving Viggo Mortensen. It makes me feel old now ;). And then for years, I hung out with some friends for text-based rpgd which racks up quite stupendous daily word counts sometime, and all of it unusable.

      Thank you for stopping by! And yeah, I am always terribly impressed with people who really believe they are awesome, but then on closer inspection I like it better the way we are ;).

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