Following on from my previous post where I realised that I have become a “proper writer” I thought I’d look back at some milestones in my career as a writer. I was thinking over this and realised that I started at the age of 15 when I had an article published in White Dwarf, a magazine for role-playing games. It was an adventure for people to play with the game Traveller (it’s all a very long time ago) and it was quite amazing to meet a someone who’d played that adventure.
Somehow, I never translated that good start into an early writing career. My creativity got sidetracked first into a Maths degree, then a career as a computer programmer. I did complete a first novel before I was 25 and second one in the years after that. That first novel was a definite milestone – to move from “I want to write” or “I’m working on a novel” to “I’ve finished a novel” is a big step. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t very good, simply the act of starting, carrying on and getting to the end is important. And however bad the writing, you always learn from it.
Over this period I also had some articles accepted by Pagan Dawn – the magazine of the Pagan Federation. Eventually, over five years ago, I compiled a lot of different notes into a non-fiction book, The Busy Pagan. Over a mad couple of months I typeset the book, incorporating pictures from my artist friend Anita Luckett. Finally I registered for an ISBN and self-published. The feeling when a complete stranger bought a copy from Amazon or at a fair was amazing. That thought that somewhere a complete stranger was reading my book that I’d put together is the highlight so far of my career – nothing else has come close.
After that I started getting articles accepted by Llewellyn which I saw as another step forward. Different from self-publishing, this was acceptance by professionals. And also payment, which I had never had before from all the magazine articles that I had written. I suppose, more than anything this moment marks when I gave up “amateur status” and became a professional writer.
And now, what’s started this introspection, is that I’m attempting to place a novella that I’ve been asked to write to a strict formula and genre. So it’s similar to placing non-fiction with Llewellyn but it’s also exciting because it’s fiction and I’ve never had any commercial success with fiction so far. Hopefully this one will place OK, and then the final stage will be to get my novel finished and published for the general public to read.
So, those are my milestones in my writing career – please leave comments and let me know what yours are.