Today I have AmyBeth Inverness here to kick of The Darkest Hour series of blog posts.
If you’re not familiar with The Darkest Hour, it’s the part of a story where the protagonist can’t see a way through to success, yet they always find a way despite this.
I hope you find these stories inspiring, particularly if you’re facing your own personal Darkest Hour.
In a one-hour television drama, it’s very easy to tell when you’re approaching the climax.
A simple glance at the clock will tell you when you’re at that three-quarter mark where things take a turn for the worst, or the final confrontation begins.
If the story of my journey to become a professional writer began with my decision in 2010 to make it a career instead of a hobby, and it ends with the arbitrary goal of making more money than I spend on writing-related activities, I have no way of knowing whether I’m anywhere near that three-quarter mark.
Maybe it’s right around the corner.
Then again, maybe it’s still a few years down the road.
A writing career is not an easy one to explain.
I know successful, long-lived writers who avoid mentioning their profession in polite conversation because it’s simply too awkward.
Many people define success as the achievement of vast wealth and celebrity status.
Even if the writer herself is satisfied with a modest income, people will judge her as a failure if her name doesn’t pop up as a question on Jeopardy.
The I.R.S. has their own definition of success, and it’s similar to my stated goal of making more money from writing than I spend on writing. I believe in 2011 we still classified my writing as a hobby.
I hadn’t made any money, after all, but that’s not unusual for an aspiring writer.
For the next three years, we claimed my few little expenses such as blog fees and domain name as part of a startup business.
Our tax guy assured us that operating in the red for a few years was perfectly acceptable.
This year, my career has seen a definite upturn.
I have a contract to put out a short story from my sci-fi series The Cities of Luna every full moon.
I recently self-published an urban fantasy novella The House on Paladin Court.
However, since royalties from sales are usually delayed by several months, my earnings for 2015 will still be very low.
When one starts a new job, one can usually announce what that job is, then enjoy the first paycheck within just a few weeks.
Writing is not like that.
To quote the late great Ernest Hemingway “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
This is true in two ways.
First, the pouring of one’s own soul into a work of art, and all the turmoil of revision and rejection that follows.
Secondly, there are the sacrifices one makes in one’s own life in order to do the writing.
Time that could have been spent at a more profitable job, or with family, or the hundred other things that demand one’s attention.
The darkest hour didn’t fall suddenly on me, like sunset on the atmosphere-less moon.
It’s a fog I’ve been diligently and purposefully striding into, not knowing what point is the darkest.
I don’t know whether I’m walking into deeper and deeper mud, or whether I’m about to come out the other side into sparkling daylight.
My life is not a one-hour television drama.
I am fortunate to have a flashlight through all this.
My husband of twenty years is the one who, back in 2010, told me to do something with my writing.
Now, looking at my sixth NaNoWriMo where I’ll be spending even more time than usual at the keyboard, ignoring dinner times and staring off into space then running away to make notes about something, he’s still grinning and bearing it.
He still believes in me.
Like me, he also can’t see whether we’re about to see blue skies, or whether we’re about to sink neck-deep in mud.
In January, after the craziness of NaNoWriMo is over and we’re trying to recover from the craziness that always surrounds the holiday season, my hubby will still be there beside me when we go see our tax guy.
The I.R.S. might not think I’m successful.
My peers may not think I’m successful.
My kids may have no clue that being a writer is a real job.
The world at large will probably ignore what I’ve created.
But I will know that it’s worth it. I can see a glimmer of light, off there in the distance. I can’t tell how far away it is, but I know it’s worth moving toward.
That’s much better than staying here in the mud.
A writer by birth, a redhead by choice, and an outcast of Colorado by temporary necessity, AmyBeth Inverness is a creator of Speculative Fiction and Romance. She can usually be found tapping away at her laptop, writing the next novel or procrastinating by posting a Sci Fi Question of the Day on Facebook and Google Plus. When she’s not writing, she’s kept very busy making aluminum foil hats and raising two energetic kids and many pets with her husband in their New England home.
You can find her at AmyBethInverness.com, on Facebook, Google Plus, Ello @USNessie, and Twitter @USNessie or check out her Amazon Author Page. More about AmyBeth’s sci-fi series The Cities of Luna and her self-published an urban fantasy novella The House on Paladin Court are available online.
If you have a story you’d like to contribute to The Darkest Hour, please check out the previous post: The Darkest Hour – stories of success over adversity, or send an email to TDH [at] fandelyon.com.