Sunday, April 6, 2014

Writing As A Hobby

   I  came to the decision a while back that for my own piece of mind I would write as a hobby and not as a business.
   Actually, that is the way I started out four years ago when I began writing The Boys Of Northwood. I wrote that book because I felt the need to put the experiences of my childhood on paper as a legacy of sorts for my grandchildren and future generations. I wanted to leave something behind, a small scrap of the person I once was.
   As I worked my way through my childhood. I realized that writing was an excellent way to return to those days. I had found a time machine hidden on my computer's keyboard. Words, my words, that I created, suddenly took on a magical quality. They had the unique ability to take me to another time, another place. For the first time in my life, writing had enchanted me. I was hooked.
   And so I moved on to my first fictional novel, Sarah Of The Moon. I had written the beginning and the end of the book many years before, problem was, I had no story in-between. So I made it up as I wrote, and as Sarah came to life on the pages, she took my hand. "Don't worry," she told me. "I remember the way it happened. I'll show you." Of course, that became another thrill, letting my characters lead me through the pages, trusting me to get it right.
   I didn't stop there. My next book was Letters From Long Binh, true stories of my experiences in Vietnam, based on the letters that I wrote home to my girlfriend throughout the year of 1967. Afterward, the books came as quickly as ideas for stories came to me. I was having fun doing something I enjoyed, and here's the best part, I actually started making some money selling my books. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to give me the incentive to continue to create books and market them.
   That became part of it; the marketing and promotion of my product. Selling my brand. If I didn't promote constantly I would have been swamped by the wave of new product available. Hundreds of new novels weekly. Thousands a month. I didn't think I would enjoy that part of it and was pleasantly surprised when I did. It became a challenge of sorts to experiment with different advertisers and social media to see what strategies stuck and which were a waste of time. Thankfully, at some point in the last two or three years I built a solid base of loyal readers who stuck with me because although they may not have liked a genre of a particular novel, they liked my style of writing enough to read the stories I wrote.
   Like every aspiring author, I'd like to think that one day I'll be discovered. I'd like to think that one or more of my books will go virile and sell enough copies to be noticed by someone who could take the book to the next level. But although I'm a hopeless dreamer. I'm also realistic. Lightning may strike but more than likely it won't, and you know what, I can live with that because I write as a hobby. If I make money, fine. If I don't, that's fine too. I will write because I enjoy doing it, I enjoy the thrill of creating characters and worlds of fantasy. I enjoy creating a situation that looks hopeless but that my characters will somehow find a way to muddle through.
   If or when the day comes that writing becomes a burden I will stop doing it and move on to another endeavor. Until then, more often than not you'll find me by my computer's keyboard indulging myself in a trip to the past or a fantasy in another place or time.
   Life is short and I don't want my legacy to read: He tried. I want it to read: He succeeded.