Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hello, I’m Alan (Part II)

by Alan

I’ve always been a numbers guy. As a kid, I hated English class. All that grammar and junk. I didn’t like reading so-called classic novels (I did a lot of skimming). I certainly didn’t share my father’s love for literature (he was a former English teacher). Me and O

I went to college and studied Mechanical Engineering. I didn’t much like engineering, so I went back to business school and got an MBA (at MIT, not exactly a fertile breeding ground for creative writers!).

I didn’t much like business, so <fast forward some years> I thought I’d give writing fiction a shot. My father would tell me that’s called IRONY!

To start off (as proof of concept, in engineering terms), I wrote a few short stories. They didn’t stink.

Then I took a Fairfax County Adult Ed writing class (taught by Elaine Raco Chase) and wrote more stories. They still didn’t stink. (They weren’t very good, but they didn’t stink.)

I took some workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda (including some from Noreen Wald). My writing still didn’t stink. In fact, it was getting better!

So I did the only thing that made sense to me. I wrote. And wrote and wrote. Got plugged into a great critique group. Kept writing.

I finished a couple manuscripts, but realized they weren’t very good. Wrote another one and thought I’d nailed it. Crafted a killer query letter and sent it out to agents. In all, I must have sent out 100 queries. I got 100 rejections.

Back to the drawing board!

I kept writing, revising, writing, revising. Eventually, I completed another manuscript and signed with an agent, but he failed to sell my manuscript. I had a feeling he wanted to concentrate on non-fiction (the clue? He said, “I want to concentrate on non-fiction.”).

I wrote another manuscript and queried that. Found an agent who loved it and sold it (DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD).

What do you call a writer who doesn’t give up? PUBLISHED!

Since publication of that first novel, I’ve gone on to publish a handful of other books. And a handful (or two) of my short stories have also been published.

I still write novels and stories. I still submit them places. Some are accepted; some are rejected.

Writing is fun.

It’s the business of publishing that’s kooky.

******

Speaking of publishing stories, my latest, “Father’s Favorite,” came out in this month’s issue of Mystery Weekly magazine.

Mystery Weekly Jan Cover

5 comments:

Art Taylor said...

Appreciate the inauguration-themed photo here, and even more the message at the core: "What do you call a writer who doesn’t give up? PUBLISHED!"

Congrats on all your fine work, always!

Cathy Ace said...

I the sign off...about writing being fun but the business part of it being "kooky". ;-)

Catriona McPherson said...

You are the most laidback writer I know, Alan. Hardworking - but horizontal.

Terry Shames said...

Alan, who knew? I was also a math nerd in high school. Almost decided to major in math, but I knew early on that I wanted to be a writer...so I majored in political science. Ha.

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