by Annette Lyon
Back when I first imagined being a published writer, I assumed my books would be young adult fantasies. That's what I first wrote and submitted.
My first publications were something slightly different: a local newspaper piece celebrating the anniversary of a local event and an article in a scrapbooking newsletter.
I went on to do more freelance article work (to date, I've made over 100 sales), but fiction is and has always been my first love. So I kept writing young adult fantasy.
Until I didn't.
I went to writing conferences and started rubbing shoulders with people in the business. I got new ideas, saw new possibilities, new markets. And I ended up with brand new ideas for a totally different kind of book.
Years (and many manuscripts and rejections) later, I ended up publishing two contemporary romances, four historicals, and a women's novel.
To say that wasn't what I expected would be an understatement. And then another detour: I had the chance to write a chocolate cookbook.
Not something I ever in a million years would have expected to do, yet there was that door opening. I wasn't about to say no.
Since my first publications well over a decade ago, I've done editing work for individuals as well as companies. I've been paid for script writing, proofing, and press kits.
I wrote a grammar guide and self-published it (again, something I would have seen as way off in left field when I first started).
The rights on my first two books reverted to me. The first is now on Kindle, and the second will be within days. I have plans to get more books onto the Kindle without a publisher. And I still plan to publish traditionally as well.
At times, I feel like my head is spinning with all the different directions my career has taken me. I literally need about half a dozen sheets in an Excel workbook to keep it all straight.
And I love it.
I love how many opportunities come my way. I've learned that while the work clothes they arrive in may not match my original expectation, when they knock, I should go for 'em.
So much in the process of writing a variety of fields has taught me lessons that improve my work in every area. (Even technical script writing can help my fiction. Shocking, but true.)
I have multiple streams of income. This is particularly nice between the two-times-a-year royalty checks.
I'm motivated to improve and work hard, because much of my work comes through referrals. If I do a good job for one client, there's a good chance they'll pass along my name when a friend needs help.
My skills as a public speaker have improved. The more I write and work, the more I've been asked to speak. Writing is a solitary endeavor. Public speaking used to terrify me. Now I know I can get in front of a crowd and have something worthwhile to offer them.
More doors open all the time. I'm amazed at how many new things keep coming up the pike for me. I'm to the point where I have to sit back and decide what is most worth my time, because there really isn't time for it all. (What a great problem to have!)
So no, my writing career doesn't resemble my original idea of it, not hardly. The one exception is that I can go to a bookstore and see my books on the shelf with my name on them. (Which, I will say, is totally awesome.)
Beyond that, I do a lot of work that most of my novel readers will likely never see. I don't mind; I love that I have so many opportunities to make money and publish and WRITE. I enjoy every bit of it.
So when a writing opportunity opens up, don't slam the door shut because it's not part of the image you've created in your head. Look a little closer; by letting it in, you may adding a future opportunity that could lead to bigger and better things.