Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Snow Ball Effect - Tracy Krauss

The theme for this month was 'new beginnings', a very apt topic for the month of January when so many of us like to set goals. I've noticed that many of my writing goals sound quite similar each year which leads me to wonder: Perhaps beginning something multiple times really isn't 'beginning' at all...

For many years, my reoccurring lament was, "Why did God give me this desire to write if nobody is ever going to read it?" My only writing goal in those early days was to just finish something. Sixteen years after starting my first novel, I managed to complete it. Finally! Goal number one crossed off my list!

Three or four years later I had four finished manuscripts. By that time, my new goal was, "Get published." This was before the self-publishing revolution. (In retrospect I am very thankful for that, since none of these books were actually worthy of publication at the time.) I had less control over this goal than the first one. Reality was a tough taskmaster and I went through many more years of submission and rejection - almost to the point of despair - until, 'Eureka!' I signed my first book contract in 2008. The next logical goal was to be able to quit my day job and write full time. I'd done the hard part, so this next step should be easy. Right?

Once again, reality slapped me upside the head and woke me from my fantasy. My first book did not become an overnight success, and I did not make large sums of money or gain an instant following of readers. Instead, I was painstakingly introduced to the concept of building a platform, step by slow step. Marketing, social media, and other para-writing activities now demanded my attention, and with that my list of goals for the year became long and complex. Somehow, 'Write full time,' now depended on social media stats, learning new marketing strategies and the like. What ever happened to pure, unadulterated writing for pleasure?

Not that I'm complaining. I have enjoyed a small measure of 'success', if one can call it that. Since my first book came out in 2009, I've been blessed to have more than 20 books and plays published - almost 40 if one counts the novella sized serials that came out each month before they were compiled into full length collections. I've also written multiple magazine articles and anthology contributions and I have maintained my personal blog and consistently contributed to several other blogs like this one. The snow ball effect is certainly evident as my repertoire expands along with the demands on my time.

However, despite all this activity and an armload of published material, I am really no closer to meeting that ultimate goal of becoming a full time writer. Writing for profit turned out to be harder than I had anticipated. The competition is fierce and the market is flooded. It's why I hesitated this year when it came time to do my customary 'goal setting' session. Sure, I came up with a long to-do list of things I want to accomplish this year. More books, more marketing, more busyness... But am I really getting any closer to my real goal?

I can't answer that question. All I know is, I've come too far to stop now. I am a lot older and a bit wiser than when I started, but I'm still pursuing that dream. Just like a small snowball that can turn into a large one, I'm hoping that momentum is on my side. Only time will tell.

Tracy Krauss writes from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC, where she also teaches secondary school Drama, Art and English. Visit her website for a full list of her novels, stage plays, and other books. 


Glynis said...

I love your 'dose of reality' Tracy. Good perspective. Keep making those goals - I laughed at your first one and agreed, wholeheartedly - 'just finish something!' I thought that was my (quiet, not telling anyone) goal! Love it. And look at the snowball effect you have had. God has blessed many with your words, I am sure. I love my Sleepytown Express. It is very precious to me!

Peter Black said...

A *candid* "dose of reality," rather than the *candied* ideas about writing comes to most, if not all, of us sooner or later. However, you have accomplished so much already, Tracy. The snowball is surely on the roll, in your case. Your goal-setting pursuit and persistence are inspiring. ~~+~~

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