From Would-Be To Published Author - The Long And Winding Road

From Would-Be To Published Author – The Long And Winding Road

Every author’s journey is different. Some start with all guns blazing and have half a dozen novels under their belt by the time they’re 30. Others take up different careers, raise families and begin writing later in life when they have more time and freedom. For some, it’s a desire they’ve had buried deep inside for years; others discover a passion for writing they never knew they had.

I think my journey would best be described by the Beatles’ song The Long and Winding Road. Lots of detours and dead-ends. But to give myself credit, there have been some good straight stretches. And although each author’s journey is unique, there’s one thing we all have in common – no matter what obstacles we encounter, that shining passion deep within us won’t be quelled and we’ll always find a way.

Like most writers, my love of writing began in my childhood. I loved books from an early age (Enid Blyton was a favourite) and above is a photo of me in bed with my younger brother reading a Noddy book to him. (Or my four year old version of pretend reading. Note all the books strewn on the bed – a gluttony of early morning reading!) In primary and high school I excelled in English, won prizes in writing competitions and spent a lot of my spare time curled up in an armchair engrossed in a book.  I think my childhood was pretty typical of many authors.

The only career I was interested in pursuing when I left school was journalism. Although there were university courses available, it was widely regarded that the best way to get employment as a journalist was to win a cadetship with a newspaper, which in my hometown of Brisbane was the Courier Mail. Each year there were hundreds of applications for a handful of positions. As well, my parents thought that due to my shy, introverted nature I wasn’t suited to journalism, where I’d be required to conduct interviews and investigations and other people-oriented tasks.

So I didn’t apply for a cadetship – why bother? With all that competition, I wouldn’t have a chance. And not having the belief in my abilities to pursue my chosen career regardless, I undertook a degree in the social sciences, where my creative writing abilities were put to use padding out boring essays on sociology theory at 3am on the day they were due.

A long winding road

The long and winding road

During my twenties my writing ambitions lay dormant as I finished my degree and obtained employment in social welfare. In my late twenties I married and it wasn’t until I was 31, at home with a toddler and a baby and going crazy with the lack of mental stimulation, that my love of writing was rekindled.  I enrolled in a correspondence course in freelance journalism, selling my much-loved 12 string guitar to pay for it.  (A wise decision, as it turned out – as a guitarist, I make a great author).

If there was one major turning point in my life, this was it. I loved the course and when a couple of articles that I wrote as assignments were accepted by magazines, that sealed it. Not only was my latent belief in my ability to write validated, I could actually earn money from it as well!

Over the next fifteen years or so, I worked part-time as a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines while bringing up my family. One of my gigs was a weekly column in my local newspaper in which I chronicled the ups and downs of family life. I attracted a wide, enthusiastic following of family members, assorted ring-ins who were forced by those family members to read the columns, lovingly cut out and preserved in plastic sleeves, and two motley dogs.  Needless to say my children, whose escapades were frequently the butt, I mean, topic of my columns were not amongst those followers.

Over the years I’d dabbled in short story writing and sent some stories away to magazines, with no luck. That was the extent of my creative writing until 2002. By this stage I was divorced with teenage children, and had dived into the uncharted (at that time) waters of internet dating. My experiences gave me an idea for a novel and 18 months later the final draft of my first novel Perfect Sex was completed. No-one was more surprised than I, as novel writing had never been on my agenda.

‘Never again,’ I groaned, but like a mother forgetting the pain of childbirth when planning her next child, I was soon engrossed in novel number two.  So now I’m hooked and have been writing novels ever since, with occasional forays into short story writing for variety. To cut a long story short, I had no luck with getting Perfect Sex accepted for publication (the digital publishing revolution was yet to happen) so it languished in my virtual bottom drawer, until I hauled it out many years later and gave it a total makeover. Novel number two has taken the place of Perfect Sex in my bottom drawer and by 2013, when I was ready to publish my next novel, How Not To Commit Murder as well as Perfect Sex, indie publishing was in full swing.

As I outlined in my last post I’m now at work on a novella. Like many authors I also have a day job, but my aim is to become a full-time author. It has been a long and winding road, but I took the scenic route and got there in the end. And the advantage of coming to fiction later in life is that you have a wealth of life experience to draw on.

What song best describes your author’s journey? I’d love to hear about it – please share in the comments below.

About the Author Robin Storey

Robin Storey is an Australian author from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is a certified book nerd and has no weird hobbies or unusual pets.

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10 comments
Simon says March 25, 2015

I think you are a exceptional writer among other writers. You are telling that you have shown your talent from childhood means you are a writer from birth. Every person can’t write in every topic or in every matter. It is better to write stories according to recent demand and according to situation. By the way thanks a lot Robin for such a nice and informative information. I appreciate a lot for your blogging effort.

Reply
    Robin Storey says March 29, 2015

    I agree that not everyone can write on every topic, I think you have to find what you enjoy writing most and stick to that.
    Thanks for your commments.

    Reply
Ernie Zelinski says March 29, 2015

The song that best describes my author’s journey is “I’ve got my own way to Rock” by Burton Cummings.

I started self-publishing in 1989. (I do not use the terms “indie” or “self-pubbed”. I find them too trendy. Trendies normally are broke and stay broke.) Since 1989 I have earned around $2.4 million in pretax profits from my books.

These bits of wisdom have been invaluable inspiration to me insofar as writing and publishing 15 books that have sold over 875,000 copies worldwide:

“Books work as an art form (and an economic one) because they are primarily the work of an
individual.”
— Seth Godin

“It’s better to do a sub-par job on the right project than an excellent job on the wrong project.”
— Robert J. Ringer

“He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would have been enough.”
— Albert Einstein

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
— Fred Wilson

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
— Andre Gide

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.”
— Christopher Morley

“No organization — government or otherwise — can take great care of you. Organizations aren’t capable of this — only you are!”
— from “Life’s Secret Handbook

“If you see in any given situation only what everybody else can see, you can be said to be so much a representative of your culture that you are a victim of it.”
— S. I. Hayakawa

“The amount of money you make will always be in direct proportion to the demand for what you do, your ability to do it, and the difficulty of replacing you.”
— Earl Nightingale

In short, you can always follow the crowd if you are too lazy or too afraid to create a unique path in life. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. It’s certainly not the way to manifest personal freedom and extraordinary prosperity in your life.

Ernie J. Zelinski
The Prosperity Guy
“Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
(Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working”
(Over 275,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

Reply
    Robin Storey says March 29, 2015

    Thanks Ernie for all your inspiration, and I agree that it’s important to find your own unique path. Sometimes that entails doing what other successful people have done, just as a starting point, and from there finding your own direction.

    Reply
Marie Saint-Louis says April 1, 2015

I would say Danny Gokey’s song “Hope In Front Of Me” would best describe my voyage into the publishing world. If it wasn’t for my clients wanting a book….my journals would still be in the corner collecting dust.

I teach during the day, at an alternative high school, dealing with teenage students who have been kicked out of every other school in the area. During the night, I come home and have appointments with clients.

I wrote in between clients, and often until 2am in the morning surviving on little sleep. My favorite place to write was this little 24 hour taco shop seated on the orange picnic benches. It’s located in the crime ridden area and I’ve moved away. I still drive by and stop and buy tacos from them.

Many times, I wanted to give up and forget about finishing my manuscript. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking of the promise I made to my clients. A promise to have a book available (RSVP from Heaven) for them to read.

Today, I clicked the “send ” button and my nonfiction manuscript is with the formatter. Next week, it heads to a local family owned printer located in the middle of Phoenix, Arizona.

Please listen to the words and watch the video. It’s an amazing song everyone can relate too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5GFiDdGGGM

Reply
    Robin Storey says April 3, 2015

    Thanks for your comment Marie – yes, that is a very inspirational song. I admire your dedication and perseverance; it’s that burning light inside us that makes us keep going when our mind wants to give up. And you had the added incentive of having made a promise to your clients. Good luck with sending your book out into the world!

    Reply
Prisqua says February 25, 2016

I’ve always loved writing, in my diary… So I never thought as doing it as a career. I think if I had voiced out loud that idea, my parents would have slapped me. I did secretly have the idea at 15 to one day write a book. Some years ago I started blogging. But I was following the trend of “blogging for money”. There was no real passion in it. I don’t pretend to be an awesome writer because there are things you are either talented for or not, some things you have to learn. I have to learn the art of writing and English is my second language.
I came back to the Sunshine Coast a few years ago after staying a few years in London, about to turn 40 and feeling I had not achieved anything with my life. Three years later, I am studying and my first novel will come out next month.

Reply
    Robin Storey says February 25, 2016

    Hi Prisqua
    Congratulations on sticking with your writing and publishing your first novel – it’s such an exciting feeling of accomplishment! Hopefully there will be many more. And we all have to learn the art of writing, no matter how talented we are. 🙂

    Reply
Bent Mathiesen says March 31, 2017

“A certified book nerd”. That is how I saw myself earlier. Books could compliment my imagination and curiosity – the school was not drowning my thirst and were moving way too slow. Unfortunate there was no internet at that time, so .. books. I lost count of how many libraries I emptied and how many books I read. With the internet it has been possible to speed up. No more paper cuts.

Reply
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