Sometime in 2013, I decided I wanted to be a writer, not understanding that writing is something you do, not somebody you are. Oh, and English used to be my second language. But, as I told myself, I could mend that gap with a bit of hard work and practice. I would write short stories and see how it goes. It hadn’t gone. Three years and fifty rejection letters later I was still unpublished. It drove me nuts, so I attacked the problem with a vengeance.
I did everything I could to catch up. I signed up for training courses, participated in workshops, I read and re-read every book about writing and storytelling and style I could lay my hands on. And that’s on top of keeping up with the latest releases. You can see traces of all that on my Goodreads profile. Then, I got heavily involved in online manuscript exchanges and ended up working with more than a hundred writers. Somewhere along the way, I met people who were more generous with their time and attention than I believed possible. These few kind souls helped me develop as a writer.
Slowly but surely, the stream of form rejections turned into personal rejections and finally into that first sale I dreamed about. Ha! A month later the magazine closed before my story saw print. And you know what? It didn’t matter anymore. I knew I could do it. Here’s what mattered instead:
I call it my Tetris of Tears. Each cell represents a day in my life. Each number the amount of writing I did that day, measured in Pomodoros (25-minute intervals of focused work). Everything’s in there. The good times and the bad. My day job and the holidays we took. My wife’s chemotherapy. Days out with my friends, and even one or two mothers of all hangovers. All summed up by one word: life. The numbers add up to 1791 hours of focused writing so far.
The kindness I’d received from strangers still humbled me so I tried to pay it forward by helping other writers. Some of them came back for more. They seemed convinced my advice and education in storytelling standards helped them get published. Bloody amusing, considering I just got un-published. They were the first group of people who returned to me with each new manuscript they wrote. I became their editor.
On the writing front, I didn’t have to wait long for my second sale. And the next. In fact, I sold all of my latest stories. So I took the next step and began working on a book; a novel set in the strange realm of Slavic mythology where people have two souls and the stars in the night sky are just cracks in a giant dome that protects life from the primeval fire of creation still burning high above. Fascinating stuff.
After six years of hard work, I’m finally bridging the gap between a passion and a profession.
I can help you do the same.
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