Why dogs are like writing

BoredZoeMy kids once argued that they could never be bored if they had a dog. You can probably guess how that worked out. But I feel the same way about writing. I can never be bored when I have a story to work on.

Writing’s been keeping me engaged for four years now. In fact, this is the longest I’ve held one job, um, ever. Even for a military spouse, my resume is long and, well, long.

I’m not lazy. I just crave constant mental challenge. Once I master my work I’m ready to move on, but writing is the one thing I can never fully master. Even if I were flawless in all aspects of craft—oh, if only!—there would always be a new story to challenge me, new plot points and characters to work through, research to be done.

Writing has held my attention over the last four years, and each year has had a different focus or feel to it. That keeps it interesting.

2009 was all about the joy of writing, happiness at finally finding something to keep my brain engaged, and getting to know other writers. I started learning how the industry worked, and began to see that it was changing rapidly.

2010 was the year of craft. I read as many books, blogs, and articles as I could get my hands on. I took online classes, attended my chapter meetings, worked with a critique partner, and entered contests. I attended my first national conference and volunteered at the national level.

2011 was the year I hit my stride as a writer. I got the Golden Heart nod and placed well in several contests, and I started getting requests for my full manuscript, rejections with feedback (including one revise-and-resubmit from an agent), and requests for my future work.

2012 was the year I planned to immerse myself in my writing and really polish it up. I thought I might be getting close to publishable—I even received a revise-and-resubmit from an editor—but then something unexpected happened. Instead of selling a romantic suspense manuscript, I got a contract for, wrote, and revised Scrivener For Dummies. It went from an outline to the bookstore shelf in about six months. To be honest, I’m still kind of reeling.

2013 is the year I get back to writing romance. And now that I have all that craft swimming in my head, and know (better, anyway) how to layer it in during the revision process, I’m focusing on finding the joy in writing again.

Maybe this won’t be the Year of the Contract. But that’s okay, too. (While I wait, I might even strike out on my own and self-publish. Who knows?)

People who’ve never written before wonder how I can stand to wait four, five, six, or eleven years to get published in romance. Sure, the anxiety and impatience are there, but the longer I’m in this game, the more I realize how ill-prepared I was in the early years, and how much more I still need to learn.

I have to believe that persistence will pay off. So, until I get the call, I’ll be joyfully working on my future backlist.

Besides, I have a dog, so I can never be bored.