Writing Books/A Few Questions
I'm doing research for a class at my high school, and I'd like to ask a few questions. Any and all answers you provide me with would be a great help to me and very much appreciated. The questions are found below.
1. What's the hardest part of your job?
2. What is a normal day like for you?
3. Who do you have to work with on a daily basis? On a long-term basis?
4. How long do you generally spend working on one piece of work?
5. Do you have deadlines that must be met, and if so, what is the norm where their length is concerned?
6. What are some challenges that a person pursuing your career might face? And if you don't mind my asking, what were some of the obstacles and challenges that you met?
Again, I want to thank you for your time. Not only do your answers help me with my schoolwork, but they will help me with my own career.
~ A. Mullins
I'm more than happy to answer your questions. Bear in mind that my writing career is part-time... I still have a day job in an office. But I'll answer the questions from the writing angle.
1. The hardest part of my job, without question, is dealing with "the industry." The creative arts are problematic, in that the creation of the work (be it a book, a song, or a movie) is only half the endeavor. The other half is getting it out to the masses, and with books, that means dealing with publishing companies, agents, distributors, etc. And most creative people will tell you that this is the part that's a pain in the behind. It's frustrating, too, because "the industry" today is all about the bottom line. A book that would've been published 25 years ago, simply because the writer showed obvious talent and would probably produce a "hit" one day, would not be published today unless the publisher felt strongly that they'd make a profit off of it. It's very cut-throat. Ugly.
2. My normal day consists of getting up at six a.m. for exercise and breakfast, going to that dreaded "day job," then spending typically three hours at night writing. In there somewhere, I try to fit things like eating and sleeping, personal stuff, and recreation. It's not easy.
3. In my writing career, I work with no one on a daily basis. My long-term contacts are infrequent contacts. It's a fairly solitary life.
4. My novels have, in the past, taken me about five years to complete. But back then, I didn't have the strict regime I have now. Currently, I'm working on four projects: two novels, one screenplay, and a non-fiction book. I started all of them within the past month, and expect to have the screenplay and non-fiction book both finished by fall, with the novels reaching completion next summer and fall.
5. My deadlines are all self-imposed, at this point.
6. I'd say the biggest challenge someone faces in becoming a novelist is the fact that only a small percentage of novelists are able to make a living off of it, and a ridiculously small number are actually major successes. It can be a very sobering experience for a writer to have been told all his/her life what a great writer he/she is, only to have agents and editors send out flat rejections over and over again. As for myself... My first novel was over 300,000 words long, which is pretty hefty. I was told repeatedly by agents that no publisher would even consider publishing a book of that length by an unknown author. They recommended I cut it in half. (Not as in "sell it as two books," but to shorten it by half.) That was unacceptable to me, so I ultimately had to pursue another means of publication. My second novel, though much shorter, was written in a sort of modernized epistolary form... and agents told me it would be too difficult a "sell" for them. They suggested I reconsider that form. Again, that was unacceptable to me, and that's when I realized that I had to start my own publishing company. The world of publishing is changing, and I intend to make the most of that.
Hope that's helpful. If you need clarifications, feel free to email me at email@example.com.