How do I begin a career as an independent author?
There are probably as many different ways to answer that question as there are independent authors. We are all unique individuals, coming from different backgrounds, with our own stories, traveling our own journeys, with varied outlooks and dreams. Therefore, everyone has something to say that is as unique as they are. It doesn’t mean we are all interested or curious in what someone has to say, but someone else is so why not say it for those people?
Many Paths To Becoming a Writer
There is no right way to be a writer. There is no time of day or amount of hours appropriate for everyone. There is no location or type of venue that gets the creative juices flowing for everyone. There is no rule of thumb about how to design a plot that works for everyone. There is no way to make an outline with any specific number of plot points that works for everyone. There is no guide to developing characters that must be followed by everyone. There are many books and articles on how to write, but what excites one person as the best book on writing, is not necessarily everyone’s favorite.
Just as they say that everyone must find their own voice or style, everyone must also find their own comfortable approach to the writing process. And it may be after trial and error, or by accident, that it is stumbled upon. For me, I just write from the heart and don’t worry about the editing process until the next day.
How I Write
I am not a solitary writer and do most of my writing in cafes. My story ideas come from talking to people, my past, the news; sometimes they come from the smallest tidbit of information. My books are character-driven and it is through the stories of those characters that I find my plot.
My Quaker schooling and progressive Democratic parents gave me a foundation for caring for those who are underprivileged and disadvantaged. Thus, my books delve into topical, social themes such as homelessness, racism, gender identity, the legalization of marijuana as a medical alternative, cultural diversity, and the value of interpersonal relationships. I love quirky eccentric people and that is who my characters become.
Starting A New Book
When I start a new book, I have an idea for the plot and most of the characters but I do not outline or structure the book beforehand. The characters and the plot develop as I write. As for how I choose my characters, plot and setting, it is another example of how I let things just play out. I listen carefully to everyone’s stories, be they people I know well or people I read about. A kernel of information gets me interested and then the research begins. I have the setting and at least a couple of the characters and an idea of plot when I start. But it is after I start writing that the story and characters develop. It is the same way I approach life.
One of my favorite quotes came from a podcast I heard about a man who was almost eaten by an alligator. He lived and only ended up losing one arm. When he awoke his doctor said to him, “Okay, that happened. Now you get to choose what happens next.” That has kept me positive, optimistic, and enthusiastic.
An underlying theme of all my books is not letting your past rule your present or future. There are so many wonderful quotes that I like to refer to:
Shakespeare’s “Past is prologue,” “Never be defined by your past; it’s a lesson, not a life sentence,” “Stop being a prisoner to your past; be the architect of your future.”
And then my favorite John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
Becoming an Independent Author – Just Do It!
And then there is the traditional advice of every experienced writer: WRITE! There are many appropriate quotes about just doing or persevering. My favorite is attributed sometimes to Michael Jordan and sometimes to Wayne Gretsky . . .
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
This guest post was authored by Emily Gallo
Emily Kaufman was the girl growing up in Manhattan in the fifties and sixties. In the sixties and seventies, I attended Clark University and lived in San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Seattle doing the hippie/peace/love/protest thing. During the eighties and nineties, Emily Saur lived in Northampton, MA and Davis, CA and was the more conventional wife, mother of two, and elementary school teacher.
In 2006, I retired from teaching and became Emily Gallo when I married David, a professor of economics, and moved to Chico, CA to continue our journey. I started writing screenplays and television and moved into novels. David, Gracie (our Schillerhound), Savali (our cat) and I now divide our time between two and a half acres of gardens, orchards in Chico and a 750 square foot condo on the beach in Carpinteria