I want to thank my good friend, David Coe, for such a warm welcome to Magical Words and for the privilege of joining all of you for every other Quick Tip Tuesday. I met David several years ago at DragonCon shortly after my first novel, The Six-Gun Tarot, had been published. David is very kind and he has always been exceedingly generous with his time in answering all of my “newbie” questions.
Even with three published novels, a fourth one being released in March, stories in four anthologies, and three new books under contract for this year, I still learn something new about this business every day, I still feel like “a newbie.”
In terms of the experience I bring to the table, I was a freelance writer and editor for 11 years and wrote for a number of local, state, national and international publications, including Starlog Magazine. In 2006, I was the Grand prize winner of the Star Trek Strange New Worlds contest and had my short story published in the ninth edition of that anthology. I sold Six-Gun Tarot without an agent to Tor Books after pitching the idea to one of their editors at a convention.
I’ve spoken on writing and the process of getting published at numerous conferences and conventions and I’d like to add to all of that a reminder that I discover something I didn’t know about writing and the business of writing every single day. So, please take my advice and musings with a big grain of salt. Your mileage may vary.
With all of that out of the way, I am going to start out with a quick tip, one which I think all the other tools of the discipline of writing can build upon. Can you shovel snow?
We got hit here in Virginia with what many of the locals are calling a “snowpocalypse” a few weeks back. Here in the balmy south, we got hit with about a foot and a half of snow. Once the snow stopped, long after the grocery stores were laid bare of bread, milk, and toilet paper, I decided to shovel us a path out to the main road, which had been plowed clear.
Now, it wasn’t a huge distance to cover, but I had only a trench shovel to use, and I am pushing fifty these days. The fella who used to run two miles a day, lift weights, and was a boxer, well, I haven’t seen him much in the last few years, or pounds. So off I went to blaze a trail to freedom for our car.
I huffed, I puffed, I nearly blew myself down. I stopped a few times to catch my breath, and as the sun dipped and sky got darker, I considered calling it a day and picking up again tomorrow. Inside was warmth and snacks and eight billion cable channels. That was when I realized what I was going to write about in this first post. I kept at the snow, shoveling it a foot at a time, visualizing the path meeting the open road. I shoveled and I shoveled, and I shoveled, and in the end, the path was clear and our car was free. I looked upon my work and it was mighty, indeed!
The most important tip about writing is to never, ever, ever give up on it. A hundred rejection letters, three jobs to pay the bills, doing the laundry, getting the kids to bed, and a million, billion other reasons to stop, to quit shoveling. None of them can stop you. A professional writer must be as stubborn, as determined, as undaunted as a distance runner, as a prize fighter. You must take all the reasons to stop and shake them off and keep going, keep visualizing what you are creating, see the road ahead, and reach it.
That, in my opinion, and in my experience, is the most valuable talent a professional writer can have, the power to keep going when everything in you and around you is screaming to stop. Keep shoveling.
Often times, if it’s a first draft, you may be shoveling something smellier than snow, but that’s a tip for another day.
Thanks for taking the time to read me, and if you have any questions you’d like me to address in Quick Tip Tuesday, please feel free to send them along to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll be happy to do my best to answer you. It’s nice to meet you.
R.S. (Rod) Belcher is an award-winning newspaper and magazine editor and reporter.
Rod has been a private investigator, a DJ, a comic book store owner and has degrees in criminal law, psychology and justice and risk administration, from Virginia Commonwealth University. He’s done Masters work in Forensic Science at The George Washington University and worked with the Occult Crime Taskforce for the Virginia General Assembly.
The Grand Prize winner of the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Anthology contest, Rod’s short story “Orphans” was published in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 9 published by Simon and Schuster in 2006. It was his first professional fiction sale.
Rod’s first novel, The Six-Gun Tarot, was published by Tor Books in 2013. The sequel, The Shotgun Arcana, was published in 2014 and the third book in the Golgotha series—The Queen of Swords is currently in production. His novel, Nightwise, was released in August 2015, and his latest book, The Brotherhood of the Wheel will be published by Tor in March of 2016. Sequels to both books are forthcoming.
He lives in Roanoke Virginia with his children, Jonathan and Emily.
Contact Rod at:
Facebook: Author RS Belcher