How a Writing Career Changes in Two Years

22 Oct

Announcements: 

Read to Write Stories posted a writing exercise called – How to Begin and End Chapters – and it features Take Me Tomorrow. Check it out by clicking the link. The post also includes passages from my latest novel. If you’re looking for a fantastic website to enhance your writing, I definitely recommend Read to Write Stories. The weekly pieces are great setups for new writers and wonderful practice for writers hoping to tune their craft.

How a Writing Career Changes in Two Years

The other night, I was doing something that most writers dread: Cleaning old documents off my laptop. Pretty much everyone I know dreads this, but writers – I believe – have a little extra to sift through. Between years of daydreaming, note-taking, and attempting to start numerous novels only to shelve them, writers can stack up hundreds if not thousands of mislabeled, unfinished, and probably unorganized pieces of writing, and I doubt I am alone when I say this, but it is so impossibly difficult to delete old writings…but I manage to do it anyway. When I do, I hold my kitten to make the pain bearable.

It was on one of these horrid nights that I found a document titled “Book To-Do.” I, being the unorganized cat lady that I am, had no idea what to expect from this docx icon I found buried among old college assignments and music wishlist bulletins, but I knew I could not delete it without reading every word of it, so I opened it.

I found gold.

Book To-Do was written on September 04, 2012. At this point in my life, November Snow was my only piece of work released, but I had quit publishing a long time ago. This document was also written approximately 20 days before I began this website, and the entire point of this single document was to outline where I was with my writing as well as label where I wanted to go next. I can’t share all of those notes (Spoilers are everywhere, even about books I haven’t told beta readers about yet!) but I am showing notes on pieces you will recognize:

November Snow

  • Old version: 125,978 words
  • New version written as of now: chapter 1—11: 30,265 words
  • Currently writing chapter 12

Take Me Tomorrow

  • Finished editing, sent query, responses gained, speak with author in contact.

The Dark Trilogy

….

So, where am I going with this?

The gain! Look how much has changed in two years alone. The Dark Trilogy became The Timely Death Trilogy, and Death Before a New Day morphed into Death Before Daylight, and all three received a rewrite, an edit, and a contract. Same with Take Me Tomorrow, and although I’m still working on November Snow’s rewrite, I am still moving forward with it, but the important piece was how I felt upon seeing this dated list: I realized how easily all of this hard work can be forgotten.

My friend made this two years ago, purposely using ‘right’ instead of ‘write’ to give me a hard time

Two years ago, my friend made this, purposely using ‘right’ instead of ‘write’, and the joke has stuck. I truly was writing a paper for college, and that is my lucky Elvis t-shirt.

You see, as an author, I am always looking forward, and I never think I am doing well enough (and especially fast enough) to further my career in order to meet more readers. That focus isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I believe I get too caught up in moving forward that I forget how much work I have done to get to where I already am, and I found a lot of excitement in seeing physical reminders of that progress. It reminded me that I am – in fact – working hard, but it also forced me to take a step back from the pressures I put on myself, and it allowed me to pat myself on the back for a little bit (all, of course, while thanking anyone and everyone who has helped me along the way).

It’s safe to say that I didn’t delete this document. Instead, I updated it with today’s date, and I left a little encouraging note for my future self to stumble upon another two years from now.

Who knows how far we can all be by then?

It’s definitely a practice I would recommend other authors try. I know it brought a smile to my face, and it is for that reason that I want to take a moment to thank all of you again – for allowing me to share my words and for sharing your words with me.

In two years, I hope to see you again,

~SAT

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19 Responses to “How a Writing Career Changes in Two Years”

  1. Rebecca Bradley October 22, 2014 at 3:17 am #

    It’s good to see something like that because we do need to acknowledge our achievements. What a great find!

    • Shannon A Thompson October 22, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      I agree! A commenter also mentioned how a blog serves this purpose as well – a record to show what all has happened over time.
      ~SAT

  2. Free by Forty!!! October 22, 2014 at 4:28 am #

    Awesome post! I have many (albeit not as many as you probably) documents with ideas, stories never finished, etc. that I shudder at the thought of deleting! Maybe it’s time to review all of them. Maybe I too will strike gold.

    Thanks for sharing.

    FBF

    • Shannon A Thompson October 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

      Skimming through them can be both fun and aggravating. I won’t lie. But I generally enjoy it more than not because – if anything – it reminds me of what I have and the time allows me to reorganize my thoughts. I hope you strike gold!
      ~SAT

  3. johnrsermon October 22, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    Cool post. I’ve got a few stories that I need to revisit. Though one of them, my very first attempt at a novel, I know will be awful to read as I’ve improved as a writer since then. Well I hope I have. Maybe it could be a pot of gold all my own? Hmm….

    • Shannon A Thompson October 22, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

      Maybe that is a pot of gold? I always love to see my past writings, no matter how awful they are, because they remind me of how much I have grown as a writer, and that can be gold. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even find a character or a scene that sparks something new.
      ~SAT

      • johnrsermon October 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

        Didn’t think of it like that. Thinking about that story, I can remember the whole plot and some of the key scenes like it was yesterday. I’ll looking forward to it now. Cheers

  4. Nanaaj October 22, 2014 at 5:22 am #

    Congrats on all the progress you have made so far.I can see you have put in a lot of hard work and poured your heart into your works ,so you deserve all the returns you are receiving now.

  5. Bob Evenhouse October 22, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    It is encouraging to look back and see where we’ve come from. Keep marching.

  6. Mishka Jenkins October 22, 2014 at 7:43 am #

    I think this is why blogging can be great to, just having a record of how much we’ve progressed can be really encouraging! 🙂

    • Shannon A Thompson October 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

      Very true! I mentioned this comment in another comment above. Blogs are definitely records that can keep track of all those little (and HUGE) moments that happen.
      ~SAT

  7. aetherhouse October 22, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    I never delete my old stuff – it’s just impossible for me. But I do see the joy in finding an old document like that 😀 Congrats on how far you’ve come. I know I’ve been ‘behind’ on my book plans too, but when I think about it, I didn’t even have a book to edit 11 months ago!

    • Shannon A Thompson October 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

      I used to be really bad at deleting documents, too, and I can admit that I don’t necessarily delete them – what I generally do is combine them onto one document so everything for one book is in one place instead of scattered around my laptop’s desktop screen. Thanks for sharing your joy with everyone! Looking back can help to remind us all how far we’ve come.
      ~SAT

  8. theowllady October 22, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

  9. roughwighting October 23, 2014 at 4:37 am #

    Yes, this is why I NEVER delete old files. I do make myself transcript “written-in-my-notebook stories” into a computer file. And yes, they sometimes do get “lost” and forgotten. But oh how wonderful to suddenly come upon such treasure, and then to polish it into gleaming silver.

  10. pierrmorgan October 23, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Wow – my files are hand written mostly and I’ve been going through a couple boxes of them today in fact. I’ve been working on this novel – off and on – since you were 16…In two years I’ll be 64 (like that Beatles song) and I hope to find myself looking at a final draft. Or a contract! Wouldn’t that be something? Cheers to you! What a wonderful inspiration you are for us all. I’m honored by your follow. Thank you!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. October Ketchup | Shannon A Thompson - October 30, 2014

    […] How a Writing Career Can Change in Two Years: While cleaning out my laptop, I found an old document outlining where I was two years ago – before I ever received a publishing contract or began this website. […]

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