How Persistence and the Right Mentors Advanced My Writing Career in 2011.

The difference between my status as a writer going into 2011 and its conclusion is a leap I’m very proud of, and one which makes me very confident that my writing will one day become a career. Going into 2011, my writing portfolio included two novel first drafts and a ton of unfinished novel ideas. Actually, I finished that second novel’s first draft in the second week of January, but that’s all I really had at this time last year.

Going into 2012, I have a lot more going for me, and it’s really exciting. I give credit to hard work, persistence, and taking advantage of opportunities. I also made some executive decisions about what to work on so that my efforts were most efficient.

One decision that had significant impact on my career was the podcast I started late 2010, AudioTim. This podcast started off as lessons learned along the writing journey, but quickly became an author interview podcast. Through that show, I not only learned great writing advice, but I also made some very helpful connections. That show has opened some amazing opportunities to pick the brains of some very talented authors and publishers. I don’t have the largest audience, but for a stage in my writing where my fiction is not yet worthy of publication, the podcast has enabled me to build an audience for when it is. I’ve made some friends in the game that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, which has been awesome. If you’re reading this because of my podcast, say hi, chances are I haven’t met you yet.

My first interview with a published author was with Mike Duran (episode 6). As crazy busy as Mike was at that time, he was incredibly gracious to give me an hour to ask about writing. One piece of his advice that impacted my future the most was his admonition to perfect short story writing before embarking on novel writing. My only experience with short stories was in college, and I didn’t really enjoy it. Nonetheless, I decided to take his advice and wrote a 7.5k word short story called Crystal Vendetta. If you check out my Works in Progress page, that is at the bottom of the list; I have been working my way down, polishing my stories in order of most recent, and that is the last one to need polished.

For completed works in 2011, I wrote two short stories, a novelette, two flash fiction pieces and a complete rewrite of my SF novel, Kaimerus Deception. Except for the novel, those short fiction pieces went through a ton of revision, which was a unique experience for me. Before 2011, I wrote the two novel first drafts and did a bunch of note taking as part of Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel course. While it was good to write and learn how to evaluate a first draft, a big missing piece was the process of revision.

Port Yonder Press

In July, I was selected for the Port Yonder Press, Team PYP mentorship program. This program has been an enormous opportunity for me; I’ve had two excellent writers in my group, as well as hands-on-guidance from a top notch editor (C.L. Dyck) and a publisher (Chila Woychik). An example of the growing pains I’ve gone through is the first quarter’s assignment, a flash fiction piece, went through ten or more significant rewrites. I am still polishing it up after C.L. sent me some final suggestions.

My goal is to get published in top-shelf publications, so I’m working on these stories until they’re up to snuff. It helps that C.L. and Chila are both very tough readers who won’t let anything slide. For example, here’s a comment I just got from C.L.

“Her eyes held his.” Dear sweet mercy, her eyes sprouted hands of their own and started eviscerating his head!? Watch those cliche phrases.

That’s the kind of fine-tooth comb I’ve been groomed with for the last six months, and I love it. Chila is just as tough; after ten drafts to produce my flash fiction piece at the end of the first quarter, her response was something like, “I can’t breathe. Let’s break this down and start over.” I did, and what I have now is a TON better. If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that you should never be afraid to start over (no kidding, since I did that with an entire novel…). However, starting over has let me make the most out of quality ideas so that my writing is finally catching up.

In August, I went to a writing conference hosted by Ted Dekker and his writing friends, Tosca Lee, Robert Liparulo, Steven James, and Eric Wilson. I was overwhelmed with both writing advice and a close-encounter sense of life as a professional author. That advice and brutal honesty about the difficulties of writing further convinced me that this was what I had to do. I went to my hotel and wrote 4-5k that weekend and loved the solitude and freedom to do so. It was my first business trip for writing and it pumped me up.

My original plan was to have my novel ready to submit during that conference to the publisher that Ted Dekker works with, but rewriting the first few chapters led my story into a full rewrite. I just finished that draft a few days before Christmas and know I have a much better product. I credit that to the Hollywood Formula podcast on Writing Excuses and Ted Dekker’s advice to create a few significantly emotional scenes ranging from lowest of lows to highest of highs.

In October, I was blessed to get a free first 5k edit by Lane Diamond of Evolved Publishing for my novel. He helped me recognize some pov problems I was having when using pronouns and in how I broke up paragraphs and used dialogue. So, I’ve got at least three professional editors working with me to get me on the “fast track” to publication.

Evolved Publishing

I refuse to put out mediocre work. This is why you don’t see any fiction for sale on this site. There is too much fiction out there for me to settle for reading average writing; I expect the same goes for you. Here’s to 2012 being the year that I give you fiction that makes you a lifelong fan from page one. My goal is to earn that from line one, but this humbling year has taught me patience and a step-by-step mentality.

About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a former executive producer and Hugo Nominee of Adventures in SciFi Publishing. He has been broke and lost on the other side of the world and now dreams of greater adventures from his keyboard in Des Moines, Iowa. This summer, he released his second Sand Divers book, Scavenger: A.I., where two parents use an ancient technology to fight a reproducing A.I. while trying to resurrect their deceased infant, and a new series that begins with Godsknife: Revolt, an apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up for his newsletter for news, sales, giveaways and more: http://www.timothycward.com/newsletter/.

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