Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Have I Lost My Mind? – One Writer’s Mantra’s - Guest blog by Hunter Shea

When I set out to become a writer back when grunge music was coming to its inevitable, yet sad end, I was filled with the exuberance and verve that only pure ignorance can fuel. I thought, this will be a piece of cake. I read books all the time. I got pretty good grades in English class. Smush the two together and voila, instant book.

What a sorry fool. My first big attempt at becoming the next Stephen King was a novella filled with vampires in a small, upstate New York town. I tapped away on my keyboard, sure I was spinning gold. Rewrites? Nah, who needs that when it comes out perfect the first time? I even had it bound before giving it the first read through. I dreamt of publishers lining up outside my door, waving fat checks and wearing knee pads so they could beg me for my novella.

Long story short, it was crap. I save everything I write, and I have no clue where that novella is. Hopefully, I dropped it in the trash one night while sleep walking (yeah, I do that from time to time). Undaunted, I wrote short stories, and over time they got a little better, more like a polished, unscented turd. I had, surprise, zero success at publishing a single story. So, what’s the next logical thing to do when you can’t write a decent short story or novella? That’s right, you get to work on a novel.

Now, everything I had tried before was firmly rooted in horror, and my ultimate goal was to be a horror writer. Which is why writing a romantic comedy as my first novel makes perfect sense. The scariest part was, the book actually came out pretty good (and it still holds up 15 years later). Agents and publishers liked it, but no one would take the plunge. Slightly encouraged, I wrote novel number two, a dark comedy set in a fetish club. Even more folks liked that and said it was screamingly funny, but the subject matter was so controversial, no one would touch it with a ten foot pole.

I was getting better at the whole writing thing, learning the craft, reading the market updates, so I went back to stories and started publishing a few. I spent most of my free time locked away in a room tapping away like a man possessed. I felt I was finally ready to write my BIG HORROR NOVEL. I spent 4 years working on it, often muttering, “Have I lost my mind?”

You have to look at it from any struggling writer’s perspective. Here we are, relinquishing time better spent with friends, family, drinking, watching the Mets lose, whatever your thrill. Any successes are small, barely enough to justify the time and energy spent. Why do we do it? Hell, why did I do it? A good friend of mine explained it best. “You have a compulsion to write.” There it was, in one tiny nutshell. Yes, I want to create stories and entertain people. Yes, I want to see my book on a bookshelf. Yes, I’d love to garner fame and fortune. But those are dreams that can fade with the dawn. Something in me compels me to write, to never give up, even if I have to die in a coffin lined with unpublished manuscripts.

Thankfully, that won’t happen. I’ve learned that the adage, never give up, is true. Success comes to those who work, and work hard, constantly learn, and never quit. That horror book that took 4 years to write and 4 more to get a publisher will be out in October with Samhain Publishing. It’s called Forest of Shadows and man, did I have to navigate through a dense forest to get here. I have another coming out next spring. Oh, and a children’s picture book as well, since we all know that horror and children’s books go hand in hand.

So next time you spot someone at the library or Starbucks muttering, “Have I lost my mind?” while staring at their laptop, give them a gentle squeeze on the shoulder and whisper, “Don’t give up.”

To learn more about Hunter Shea and his book, Forest of Shadows, you can visit:


Anonymous said...

Just what I needed to hear as I sit down, cold and tired, to review blogs before revising another chapter in this particular draft. Thanks.

Hunter Shea said...

It sure isn't easy!