As a kid, I had a hideous nightmare. Evil incarnate was walking down the hall to my bedroom and I was frozen in fear, unable to move. The creeping dread was so bad, it still counts as one of the worst nightmares of my life. When the evil appeared, it was one of the weirdest red devil creatures I’d ever imagined. It was also wearing sagging baggy pantyhose – horrific, at the time.
Still troubled by it the next day, I described the creepy thing in saggy pantyhose and asked my sister, “What do you think it means?”
With a smirk, she replied, “Satan has skinny legs?”
I nearly laughed myself sick and the haunting dread that had lingered was destroyed for good.
Sometimes I strive to remember it, though. How it felt to be trapped, in terror, not even knowing what the threat was as the dread and horror climbed higher. Capturing that as a writer and trying to induce it in readers is a challenge and a thrill.
Write what you know can include dreams, too. Use everything – dig deep.
I wanted to be traditionally published and worked for it and courted it for years. They said they didn’t want to work with me because I didn’t have an agent. Once I got an agent, nothing changed, beyond it being two of us getting ignored. The real game seemed to be who do you know. So I self-published. I try to learn the craft as much as I can and write well. I’m still working and still learning.
In the meantime, a traditional publisher (Vintage Books, a division of Random House) put out Fifty Shades of Grey, a writer’s and certainly an editor’s nightmare, and that made me lose faith in the idea that they were the gatekeepers of quality fiction.
These days, small press and self-publish outfits are releasing a lot more quality and less bad drivel than they were over a decade ago.
The lure of traditional publishing is still there for me, but they’ve tarnished their reputation some with their own badly written drivel these days, in my view. I hope to go with a small press next time. If not, self-publish is still there, and I demand high quality writing of myself, so I know it will be the best book I can release.
Yet, learning the craft of writing well should never stop. I love finding new things to learn to improve.