When I was a young writer, I was impatient. Even the idea of immediate success took too long. Why should I have to wait? I had the passion. Words poured from me. What I did not have was the one thing time alone could give me: life experience. I wanted to be the next Great American Novelist, but I only had other people’s lives, ideas and words.
After plenty of rejection, I managed to nab occasional freelance sales. I was ecstatic, but I was never quite satisfied. The stories appeared in low pay markets, but that wasn’t the problem. They did not feel like they were mine. I’d written them, but they read like homages and reflections. Too close to stories other people had told.
I’d heard the adage about writing what you know. There’s truth to it, sure. What isn’t said in that chestnut is: write from a place you know best. I’ve had a mess of jobs to feed my freelance career (and, sure, my stomach). I have a wealth of experiences and weird little adventures, which are all mine. I turned to non-fiction and wrote about gardening in the Texas drought, and about my dreams and disappointments in pursuing an academic career in Massachusetts.
Injections from my quirky life have pushed my prose into a different place. My articles and characters are a little richer for everything I have endured and accomplished. Sending that piece into the world, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I still face rejection with each submission, having read slush for Clarkesworld magazine, and I’m sometimes amazed that anything beats the odds and makes it into publication at all. But, when they find homes, I feel far more pleased with them. What I write is indubitably mine now. And what you write should be indubitably you.
Daniel Robichaud’s articles have appeared in Green Prints, Dark Scribe Magazine, and a host of peer reviewed journals. His fiction is available in Live and Let Undead, Rage of the Behemoth and plenty of other markets. His tabletop roleplaying game material has appeared for such systems as Macabre Tales, Dark Heresy and All Flesh Must Be Eaten.
WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION: ADVICE FOR THE DIGITAL AGE
Research, write, publish and promote historical fiction using digital tools!