I am excited to have C.E. Clayton with us on The Writer's Block. She is the author of one of my favorite books of 2017, The Monster of Selkirk: The Duality of Nature. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. Today, she is sharing with us about her plunge into writing full time. If you've ever done it, you know it's a pretty scary step. And if you're thinking about it, C.E. Clayton has some great insight. Let us know what you think. Is full time writing a goal? If you've made the transition, do you have any tips to share?
Greetings, readers! Let me start by saying I wasn’t always a writer. I mean, I was, but I didn’t always allow myself to write the way I do now. You see, I used to have a normal cubicle job. I worked in the media/advertising industry because I was of the mind that I was going to work in the field I got my degree in. I am a proverbial unicorn in that regard. A millennial who got a paid internship that eventually led to a paying job upon graduation. I checked that check box hard. But the things I did before college, were all writing based. I wrote poetry, short stories, even had ideas for a book. But I stopped in order to get a “real” job and make real money. To be fair, I don’t make what I used to as a full-time writer, and while I greatly enjoyed the people I worked with, I’m much happier now writing for a living.
So that’s where I am now.
After my husband took a job out of our home state, I took that opportunity to bid my cubicle goodbye once at for all and focused solely on my books. At that point, I already had a contract with my small press publisher for my fantasy series, so it felt a bit safer to dive into this endeavor with everything I had. I already had three of the six books in my first fantasy series written and the first book in the series, “The Monster of Selkirk” was in line to come out later that year, so I figured I was all set.
Fast forward to a year and a half later and I’ve finished writing the entire “Monster of Selkirk” series, the second book of which is now out in the wild, two of my horror short stories will be appearing in upcoming anthologies, I’ve written a general fiction novel about a dysfunctional family, I’ve written 4 additional short horror/monster stories I’m looking for homes for, and I have just started writing a new fantasy series.
I’ve taken this new endeavor seriously and treat it like the job it is, despite not bringing in the paycheck I once did. A lot of people will tell you that writing isn’t a real career. That unless you’re a journalist, this is just a glorified way of being lazy and not doing anything. But my days are structured, and writing 10-page “essays” (which translates to about 5k words double spaced—so a short story) is no big deal. You know all those people who bemoaned having to write a paper or a report? Yeah, I was never one of them. And when I’m not writing, I’m researching (which yes, is reading but it’s extremely important), and when I’m not researching, I’m marketing my books like no one’s business because I love the work I’ve put out there, and believe people should read it.
That sounds a lot more combative then I intended.
But you can see why I’d get a little defensive, right? I made a choice that wasn’t the “smart” financial choice for something that makes me genuinely happy. And I have published books to show for it! But because I work from home and I have no one to answer to but myself and my own sense of pride and anxiety, people don’t always view my career the way I do, which does inspire me to write more and more and more… so, thank you?
I write because I love it.
Because there are stories that haven’t been told that I’d want to read. Instead of waiting for others to write them, I’ve taken the initiative and written them myself. All my books focus on flawed characters all trying to figure out life, how to love, how to forgive, how to survive, how to overcome what life has thrown at them, and how to live with the consequences. Those characters can live in dazzling fantasy realms, or in a modern day city, but their struggle, their triumph, the way they cope, that’s what I love exploring in each of my books. Which is why I have a fantasy series plus the general fiction. Fantasy will always be my main love, but I don’t want to be a one trick pony, er, author, either.
In a nutshell, that’s how I got to where I am today. From writing my first novel in between jobs and while working in the corporate world, to writing books all day every day, with which accounts for 7 written novels (two of which are available now). Regardless of if others consider this a real job, I’ve accomplished a lot, in spite of them. I’m happy.
I am still the proverbial unicorn, and you can be one too! Unicorns, unite!
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