From what I have heard, every writer has their own way to bring a book from the first sentence to the last. Many writers say they work as either a [pantser or plotter]. Within writer communities, there are conversations about how that works or doesn't. I don't think anybody thinks one is better than the other. It's just how you work. There are famous, very successful writers in both camps. I am not totally either.
I do not write a firm outline for any of my books, which used to frustrate my engineer husband. But on the other hand, I do know where a story is heading. I have it in my head. It's what happens along the way where I run into surprises. So I am a bit pantser and plotter.
I see it similarly to going on a trip. I am one of those who do not like to plan a trip down to the last T. I will know the general route but along the way might take a different highway or detour when something interesting shows up. I often don't have reservations which can make some vacations dicey. I will though end up where I expected. And so it is with my writing a book.
My current work in progress follows three earlier Oregon historical manuscripts, ranging in span from 1852 to 1865. The fourth will start in 1867 and involve the Snake Conflict, one of Oregon's bigger Indian wars. I have no plans as it stands to publish any of them.
The first of those Oregon historicals I wrote in my early twenties. It has had a lot of rewrites since that time including an
extensive period working with a professional consulting editor. That story led to the next two. These four will fit into a series but I haven't figure out a name for it-- although I have the books all titled-- including the WIP.
It might seem strange to a
non-writer to think I'd put so much into books I wasn't sure I'd ever put out. Why not write in genres I would publish? In
case though, since I've been doing it all my writing life, it seems
natural to write for the joy of writing and consider marketing a separate question.
I might as well admit that the reason I haven't been sure about publishing these four is because of not having yet found a regular readership. Some indie writers have that, and they have readers eager to get their next book. I would love to be in that situation, but I am not. I haven't given up on getting there but also have to accept that it might not happen for me.
Looking at it as objectively as I can (and that's never easy for a writer who loves all the books they write), what I write doesn't 'totally' satisfy the romance reader, and non-romance readers won't give them a chance because they are so turned off on the genre. Now personally, I consider my stories to be hybrids-- between novels and romances. But it's hard to find a way to market something that doesn't fit into boxes.
That first Oregon Trail book, the one that has been part of my life for nearly 50 years, how would I feel if it met the fate of the last historical, Comes the Dawn (one sale in a month)? It's a lot easier to see a book fail to find support or readers when you have put less into it.
Now I can't say I don't put a lot of work and of me into all of them, but the Oregon Trail story goes way beyond that. It would definitely depress to me if it was similarly rejected. The Arizona historical was a good test to see if I had enough readers to even get the book seen on the Amazon lists. The test said this isn't the right time for any of my Oregon historicals-- except maybe as paperbacks with a hope that I can find local bookstores interested in their mix of romance and history.
Here's a plain truth-- if you can't take rejection of your books, it's not wise to be a published writer. You can write to your heart's content, but putting them out there, that's a whole other story. I've learned to be happy for writers who are selling well, not feel hurt if my books don't get support. I can mostly do that, but I could not with the Oregon books. They are way too much a part of me going back to when the story first came to me and I was the age of its heroine.
Anyway that's all the marketing end, not what I was intending to write about. I guess though it's a good beginning for how a year of my writing life went with the planned and unplanned. The experiences I had are why I love being an indie writer even as I admit sometimes I get a bruised ego. Actually that might be good for a person... or so they tell me ;).
So coming next blog will be more about that year which might not seem very organized but... Okay, it wasn't very organized ;).