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


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 said...

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

Unknown 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 I majored in political science. Ha.

Unknown said...

Awesome blog! Now In anticipation of a follow-up ….