Success is a judgment call. For the last forty to fifty years, one question has been my companion. "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" (Gospel According to St. Mark, sixth chapter.)
Recently, as I approach my seventh decade, I asked my own question; "What does it profit a writer to hide his work from the world? The world loses the gift of a possible talented pen." A dedicated writer cannot turn his mind off and forsake his muse, or his pen.
Some of what I say can be found in full in my incomplete series of essays, "My Coming Death." The death of my old style of writing and the birth of my new style of writing. This can be found in my Portfolio on FanStory under my user name (c_lucas).
"Fear of rejection," is nothing more than the "Fear of failing." If a writer trembles when he picks up his pen, it is normal behavior. Sometimes, I feel as if a volcano will explode inside of me because I can't get the words out fast enough. Several hours ago, I was tired, ready to take my medication, and go to bed. A special friend presented a question that I used to get paid to answer. She has the gold key to my heart and I answered it without hesitation.
After we said our usual 'good nights,' the writer in me clicked into high gear, thanks to a little pest--AKA-- My muse, who threw her gold coins into the kitty warning me I would have a sleepless night. My special friend, Nameless, is thousands of miles away and our literary umbilical cord is the internet. By pushing the computer’s off button, we become physically separated.
Not so with my muse, who has a bad habit of letting me drift off to sleep, before she blasts a fog-horn in my ear. She’ll kick my literary butt, and other parts of my anatomy until I start writing. Enough said, about her.
The biggest enemy any writer faces is lack of faith in their work. Groundless fears hinder their creative production. The way I overcame my fears turned out to be quite simple--I wrote about them and posted my them. (They are sprinkled throughout my portfolio, some of them are at the back of "My Coming Death.”)
The hard part about being a writer is, “There is nothing new to write about.” I’ve been told I write in a ‘dead genre.’ Hollywood furnished the proverbial mystical truths, starting with the fast-draw and pure-hearted hero who would kiss his horse instead of his leading lady. In print, and on the silver screen, the hero revealed less than noble traits. Uncensored sex scenes followed, tolling the death knell for the purity of the Western Novel.
Sexual acts happened in the real Old West, sometimes giving the bulls a run for their money, but usually were performed behind closed doors. I was pretty much ignored when I started my writing career on FanStory. The Category, “Western,” pretty much guaranteed my post’s failure. Fans were difficult to snare.
Reviewers’ rejections were much higher than those who praised my work. True reviewers offered encouragement and help. I thank them for their honesty.
I was ready to give up when a reviewer told me she was happy she came across my work. She printed and read each post to her aged father, an avid Western fan, who had given up trying to find clean Westerns. No, she's not my Nameless, but she was one of the first to tell me how much she appreciated my work. I targeted a whole new source of readers, the elderly who remembered the Western in its hey-day.
I still had a long road ahead and friends, who held me to the task. Nameless came along a few months later. She ripped my stories apart, while telling me I was a natural born story-teller. She kicked my butt hard, while patting me lightly on the back. She almost castrated me when I told her I was quitting. No man wants to be viewed as a quitter; let me reword that: “No true writer wants to be viewed as a quitter.” Being born a Southerner with a deeply instilled macho pride, I kept on--still a bull. She has never let up on me. Fortunately, I have several reviewers with the same tenacity keeping me on the straight and narrow.
My writing has improved. I have had some success in promoting my work. I am appreciative of the exposure I have received from a fellow FanStory member, Nancy Wagner in her e-zine, Page and Spine: fiction showcase.
I do not consider myself to be a master wordsmith--The reality of my SPAGs won’t let me. However, I consider myself to be a very good storyteller and I can spin a excellant yarn. My reviews are more positive and I have earned some recognition. I wished I had started at an earlier time, then my stories would not be dying with me. Now, with well over a million words in my computer in poems, short stories and novels, I will be polishing these writings and making a stronger attempt to find an agent and a publisher.
To tie this essay together, I will end it by confessing I was the coward—mentioned earlier, who was frightened to make his work public. A true writer cannot deny their burning desire to be in print.
My closing words, “Write on." Need encouragement? Google successful writers’ bibliographies. I don’t know of any successful writer who has had a golden path when they started. True adventurers, Google POD and Self Publishing millionaires. I have not ruled out this means of publishing. It is the way of the future.
ABOUT CHARLES LUCAS