This is not a How-to article but more of a recollection. So if you're looking on information on how to take your writing from a hobby to a career, I can only give you my own thoughts and experiences. Plus, how you go from hobby to career would be your own story. One that you have to figure out. Much like life. It's a journey.
But that doesn't mean you don't have comrades in arms. Consider me and my story context to give to your own experiences.
This entry is also part celebration because I have to remind myself about my own accomplishments before I condemn myself to the goals I haven't made. So here's a slideshow of victories:
See... I have written stuff!
Unfortunately, I cannot add the 50 novels and novellas I did as a ghost writer for clients because, them's the rules. Plus side, if I ever needed money, I know I have the chops and could rely on this talent to win contracts and write more stories if the need arises.
But I found out something about myself along the way while ghost writing.
I need recognition.
Writing stories for others is okay, but then I have to let those stories go and some of them were amazing and made me wish I hadn't given them away. (Ha! "give them away" is a bit of a parody. I sold them to people who know how to market and make them a comfortable amount of money for the price I extracted).
I wanted to publish certain stories I'd ghost written under my name. But, alas...
It wasn't about the money because none of my titles has allowed me to build my house from gold bricks so...
It's about the recognition so to speak.
And then... I fell in love.
I realized the m/m romance genre was something that I not only loved to read but also write. So I changed gears, and wrote "Seducing Sensei" my love letter to yaoi, m/m, boys love and all the other genres you want to name same sex relationships under. And then I wanted to write more. So I did.
Don't get me wrong, I still love to write m/f stories too, but I write what makes sense to the story not what is going to be meshed within a genre.
But there's an issue with writing "what I want."
Readers aren't all that forgiving.
They want XX genre (a specific category) and expect an author to be in that genre. So how can I assume that MY readers would be okay with everything romance under the sun?
So my m/f will be with the Penn Scripter pen name and my m/m will be with my S.N.McKibben pen name. When did this become an ad for my new pen name?
There are reasons why I did what I did but everything is a bit backwards.
Then there's the tricky part of actually writing.
The thing is, I have written. I have been writing. I have stories. I have stories that are ready for copy editing. Stories that are ready to publish. Stories in the making. Stories in the revision process. Stories I've started, and ideas I have for future ones.
I've even had beta readers look at some of the stories I've started and I've edited those wonderful stories with their help.
There's two stories (one m/m and one m/f) that are being written right now. (Okay not right─right now because, right now I'm writing a blog. But you can bet that if you're reading this, I'm working on those stories)
So... why haven't those that are ready been published yet?
It has to do with my relationship with money and this other thing I learned about myself.
I don't like spending money on myself.
I have a wardrobe that is 5 years old. I keep a lot of clothes and don't buy new ones. I don't travel, I don't go places, I don't purchase things I want, like or even must have, all because "I don't need to spend the money".
I don't need stuff, but I do buy some groceries specifically for me. Like mini-cokes and Frappuccino's. I even added trail mix to the list of things only for me. Otherwise it's all about what the family needs, wants and desires. Fuck what I want 'cause I look at "things" and go, meh. I lived without it yesterday, why do I need it today?
But there is one indulgence that I invest in.
I don't have paintings or posters or physical items of art. I have commissioned pieces of... my game characters.
Yep. I'm a geek and you can suck my big nerd dick because I love the people I play with and their characters. My GM is amazing and he does everything he can to give us a phenomenal experience.
It's awesome when he makes twists and turns that I can't see coming. Sometimes he does, sometimes it's predictable but it's never boring.
And the people I play with are some of the most understanding, chill gamers I've ever played with.
In the future, you will be seeing art of our characters and the stories that go along with them.
But back to from hobby to career...
How I Found a (Potential) Career from My Hobby
Another thing about me... I love anime, cartoons, animation, comics and all those mediums of art. But I can't draw worth a damn. Nor do I really want to distract from writing. I want to make stories. I want to tell stories. I want to show everyone how they can be excellent to each other. But I think I can market someone else's art better than I can market my own writing.
Ana has been my illustrator for the past year. She's good, like really good! In fact, let me introduce her by way of her work.
She made everything except for the ship on the right but I have no doubts about her ability.
Now, I've had other illustrators before. All of them excellent! But Ana is special. Not only does she have talent, but she's reliable. She's a unicorn among a sea of illustrators because she's consistent.
Week after week she gives me the hours and progressions I need.
This is the kind of person you want on your team.
Without her, I'd think about illustrating larger projects. Projects like, putting a book in webtoon form.
So I asked her if she was willing to do an online comic with me, and...
I don't know when.
But I know the project and the plan.
When we finish with the current role-playing characters for our Dresden game, we'll start this webtoon project!
Which will take my hobby of commissioning illustrations from my RP game, and repurposing my stories already told into visual art form. If I come away with nothing else, I'll have a webtoon of my favorite books!
Wish me the best!
Goodbye, but not good riddance.
2020 was a successful year for me. Mostly because I'm old enough to have survived spinal meningitis, an emergency Cvac and generally being some freak-show of science and doctor astonishment just by being alive and functional.
Much of it has to do with attitude as I've explained in my post about Staying Positive During Hard Times - 2020 Version.
There are always going to be people who (fill in the blank here).
When people lose the ability to use cognitive reason, they lose their humanity. Fear and hope are the two halves of existence. You could say that when people zig I zag, but that's not it either.
There's a hope gene in the core of my DNA. No naysayer will ever be able to beat, gaslight or convince me that fear is the way. That we've found the black death virus because I know what that looks like and it's more WWII battlefield than 1960's civil unrest.
Or maybe fear has been burned out of me. I do know that my cognitive reason has made me an outcast. I'm unable to react the way people expect and it freaks them out. My emotional control comes from reflection, needing to understand myself and others and a curiosity of phycology.
But what does this have to do with 2020 and a new year?
Some are predicting that 2021 is going to be worse.
Depending on your opinion, I think the only thing worse is if we were all 6 feet under. Taking the good with the bad sometimes means understanding that everything has a cycle.
Like Dire Straights sings, "Why worry? There should be laughter after pain. There should be sunshine after rain. So why worry, now?"
Until Next Year...
2020 has been bad for everyone. Don't look at me though, my name isn't everyone. Everyone ELSE though seems to having a hard time with 2020 when it's been one of the best years for me personally.
Now, I'm not denying things are weird, but, it's as if my whole life has prepared me for this particular year.
Neither am I denying the 2020 phenomenon. People have died. People have fallen on hard times. People have fallen apart. Things have gone crazy.
But, people have been born. People have risen far beyond themselves because of these hard times. People have picked the pieces back up and become stronger. And things go crazy in cycles. Live long enough and you'll see them too.
This isn't a "Told You So" note to the world, honest.
I say that because preppers prep for everything. Including the zombie apocalypse. Which is just another way of saying we're prepared for the government to go to shit and attack us for our resources. Or to make an example of preppers for their independence. Or raid us for a lack of foresight much like The Ants and the Grasshopper story.
But since I'm also of the mind that everyone has a value, I would let the Grasshopper in that story inside and make him dance and sing and play music for his winter dinner. It would be a perfect trade. Entertainment for food. The Grasshopper does what entertainers do best and Ants do what preppers do best. I actually don't see the problem with that scenario. Unless you hold resentment for what you do. Then that sounds like a problem with responsibility.
How did this become a life lesson in following your dreams?
But in actuality, that's how 2020 is the best year I've had since 2019.
Preppers gonna Prep
We prepared for a goal in mind. One we'd been working towards for 10 years. That goal? Move out of California.
California is fun, the weather is excellent. The bugs are virtually non-existent. But the culture is indifferent. The cities aren't inclusive, they're anonymous. No matter how many different eateries showcase the blending of cultures, California doesn't claim any one of them. People have their niche and because the city doesn't care much, you can carve your own special place out. But don't mistake anonymity for acceptance.
One can be swallowed into the crowd.
Cities are the places where people go for their fortune or to hide. Sometimes both. They're called actors. These people went to the cities because they were unable to comply with their previous social circle and/or wanted "more" from life.
Or at least this is what any Hollywood writer would have you believe.
In reality, California is fun. People are nice if you smile, except while driving. The traffic is arguably the worst in the world. Think India but with guiding white lines and light signals.
Everyone pretty much minds their own business, especially if someone is being mugged. Or maybe it's just shell-shock, or sheep-like helplessness or maybe they think they're just watching a movie. Who knows, the result is the same, no one will come to your aid. It's always someone else's problem. And if you talk too loud and someone doesn't agree with you, your ostracized.
It's a simple life.
Pretend to be happy.
Don't get in the way.
To some, ours was an overnight move. Those people were just the social media people (Pretend to be happy). To others, it was a 6 month endeavor (shut up). But to those close to us, it wasn't a surprise that we moved─but a surprise that we'd finally done it! (Don't get in the way).
We just followed that age old saying: If you don't like it here, move.
Yep. Sound advice.
Because I'm not the kind of person that pretends to be happy. I know the secret to being happy and if you really want to know what it is, email me. It's just wasted otherwise because it's so easy and yet so hard to accept.
As far as keeping quiet goes... I'm so loud that my silence is deafening so, shutting up isn't a possibility.
As far as not getting in the way... I mean, I try... but I'm too annoying for that because like any other human, I want what I want and were you done with the rest of the food on your plate?
Can I have it?
Yep. I'm that person.
Power of Positivity
My mom likes to tell the story of how when I was a child (groan...) I wasn't a babbler. I'd sleep in and when I awoke, I'd giggle and bounce in my crib waiting for someone to come pick me up. Born optimist if there ever were.
Trying to tell you to be positive is like a piano progeny of five teaching you how to compose music. Or that kid that wins the race the first time they ever donned their shoes on the track.
JUST BE POSITIVE!
First, being positive, isn't being happy. Those are two freaking different things. So don't think walking around with a forced smile on your face is going to help. Okay, there is something to changing your mood by fake it till you make it. But being positive has a certain element of being prepared.
Hence my prepper story.
See what I did there? I totally had you thinking one did not equal the other... admit it!
You thought I was just rambling, didn't ya!
The power of positivity also has to do with being observant.
If you think the MEME below is funny in more ways than one than you too are one of the optimists!
Because you can foresee the coming incident at the picture on top and cackle at being shown right from the picture on the bottom.
Why is optimism foresight? Because when you foresee, you can expect. When you expect you can prepare your reaction.
Happiness is not Optimism.
There one more ingredient to optimism though.
If I've learned one thing, there's just really one thing you need.
Hope is Optimism.
So you might be wondering what this all has to do with staying positive in hard times.
Hope, observation, and being prepared gives you the power of choice.
What if you still don't get it. That's okay. Let's expand.
Hope, observation and being prepared gives you the power of choice on which scenario you're going to choose. If your natural inclination is to give up after watching that progeny play the piano better than you ever will, it means your hope meter is low. But cognizant reason helps you play devil's advocate. Cognizant reason is the part of your that says, I think I'll stay in on November 3rd this coming 2020.
Sure, the piano progeny will always be better. So what's the opposite of that thought?
The opposite is a conversation that looks like: Wait a minute, this kid is a gift. This kid is a mentor. This kid could take me further than any other piano teacher.
Optimism is just looking at something with hope. And if you're observant and prepare to meet the circumstance of a situation, even better.
For Naysays of Optimism
I'm just being a realist.
Awesome! So basically your telling me you have observation to prepare but have no hope.
Here's where the realist points out:
"How can you find optimism in all this?"
My answer: Did I mention anywhere in this article that optimism was easy?
No. I said use your cognizant reason. Play devil's advocate. Be prepared. Choose not to see things happening as a worst case scenario. Hope is a choice. That choice is given to you by cognitive reason. And observation will help you flip the story around to see it through hope's eyes.
Using cognizant reason is very hard to do when you react to everything. And I mean react as in people don't react when they are proactive.
Let me point out:
Optimism isn't being dumb. Optimism doesn't have anything to do with being happy. Optimism doesn't have to be beyond reality.
Covid had an impact on me. It helped my freelancing business and thus, I had more work than ever. There are people who died. I hope they had the care and compassion everyone deserves during such times. But I refuse to treat everyone like they have the plague. Humanity will always have hunters like Covid. We will fight this virus like we have for millennia. With our immune system. Break out the vitamins!
Preparing myself to be out of a job helped me become a freelancer.
Becoming a freelancer helps me write.
Writing gives me expression.
My expression is the way I see things.
So the way I see things is usually hopeful. Thus the optimism.
Optimism is fed from somewhere. It's like the circle of life. Happiness feeds hope. Hope feeds optimism. Optimism feeds dreams. Dreams feeds goals. Goals feed fulfilment. Fulfilment feeds happiness.
You can jump in anywhere in that circle to get started.
Being a 3rd generation writer means a family of beta readers! (For good or ill) 😊
Or… collaborators! Whichever way one chooses to see it.
What does that have to do with a genre change? What makes a writer change genre?
There are risks to changing genre and I'm well aware of that. And, I know it might seem a bit counterintuitive but I have thought about what to do for a while now because my genre changes is as diverse as writing erotica and then writing children's stories. At least in most people's minds.
So, let me tell you a story...
It's hard keeping up with one pen name. Adding another seemed like so much work. But here's a novel idea (he-he... see what I did there? Novel?) I could share the responsibility of a pen name with another author. That way, I could stick to one genre per pen name.
It's my hot pen name, I can do what I want.
The lure or trying something new, something different, tasted sweet. But I also, wanted to have my mom involved. See, she's a writer too. Hence the whole 3rd generation comment...
But there were other things involved with my picking one genre and sticking to it. You'll see why. Give me a moment.
The truth really is that I’ve been struggling with what genre to focus on like a squirrel with a… oh shiny!
Yeah. Kinna like that.
But I got into reading M/M romance. It’s not where I started and there was a long road between here and there. Interests changed and grew. I found the M/M genre more and more intriguing. And as I read M/M romance, I found more interest in writing in the genre. But this does not mean that I want to leave the wonderful M/F romance stories behind. I simply was at odds at doing both under the same pen name. The reason should be obvious, but if it isn't the simple rule is... not many straight people are interested in gay fiction. So how do I fix this? How do I let readers know this is M/F and this other book is M/M. That's a tricky one.
Enter the idea of working with my mom, Carol McKibben.
It was after we decided to collaborate and create a new pen name that made me go… oh, I can totally do m/m romance as S.N.McKibben and Unexpected Paranormal Romance as the other pen name!
Because, as I said, my mom is one of those straight people that's not all that interested in reading M/M romance, we'll be doing M/F.
What's the other pen name so you can go over there and check it out? I so glad you asked!
We decided to call ourselves Penn Scripter.
Because… pen… and writing… and because nom deplume was already taken. Yes, we did seriously consider first name Nom, last name DePlume, but I also convinced mom Penn Scripter was the name!
So before ya'll are thinking, Why are you doing this to me? ... Consider it not as losing a writer to another genre, think of it as getting two phenomenal writers for the price of one!
And if you're more like BRING IT! Then awesome! I'm so glad to have you! Stay here at S.N.McKibben for M/M romance!
On the other side of the spectrum, as Penn Scripter, we strive to give you Unexpected Paranormal Romance!
Penn Scripter will explicitly be traditional relationships. One brave hero. One kick-ass heroine.
Go down the rabbit hole with us at www.pennscripter.com.
I promise there are fun things already there for your viewing pleasure, such as the book trailer for TRIAD: The Demon of Reginhart, our first endeavor together into our Unexpected Paranormal Romance adventure! It’s cinematic and not like any other book trailer we’ve ever done before! Just look at some of the reactions!
“WOW! You wrote that???”
If you're interested in my blog then let me convince you to become part of my readers group!
Get a free read to see if you like my style.
I'll send you
THE KING'S THIEF!
Just fill in the form below and let's connect!