I first met Michele Lang when we both wrote for the same publisher that shall not be named. Once the company went belly up in 2007, we both managed to move on to bigger and better things. Michele writes for Tor now. Yet through it all, we’ve remained long distance friends. Welcome, Michele, and congratulations on the release of Rebel Angels!
A lot of what I write falls into the “what if” category — what if I could go back in time and fix a big disaster in the past? I love doing this exercise in my mind, but I sometimes think it’s a kind of character flaw, where I look backwards all the time and regret the choices that I’ve made.
*you WILL publish fiction. And today, you can self-publish whenever you feel you are ready. When will you be ready, you ask? A very good question, and the topic for another blog post
*writing a lot is the surest path to success. I think this will always be true, that the most prolific writers are most likely to succeed. We’re entering a second golden age of pulp, and the people who can produce for their fans are the ones who will gain market share. So, write!
*join RWA: Romance Writers of America . I think that RWA is a helpful resource for new writers, and in the ancient days when I was trying to find out about writing it was one of the only ones.
Today, with the explosion of writing industry blogs, you can find out a ton of information. I would caution you to get the best information, and don’t believe everything you read simply because it is on the internet. Just find impeccable sources, take what works for you, and forget the rest.
*write what you love to read. That was good advice for me in those days…I loved genre fiction in all of its forms, but wrote dreary literary dreck. But I would say write what you love to write — the stories that insist on getting written. The stuff that feels so easy that it is cheating. As you get more confident in your writing, you can expand from there if you want.
*read a lot. And stuff that is fun, not stuff you’ve been told is good for you. This is always true.
*find other writers who are serious about honing their craft. Just as true today as ever, though there are many more places to find them than there used to be. Back in the day, I would have recommended a writing conference, a local chapter of RWA (if one existed back then) or putting up a sign at a local bookstore to start a writer’s group.
But finding other writers these days is as easy as checking out Twitter for a couple of minutes — try the #amwriting, #writegoal, #litchat hashtags for starters.
*write short stories for publication. Find pro short story markets and keep submitting. Especially in SFF, the short story market is stronger than it was in those days. Tough to break into, but diverse and wonderful. Go for it!
*Become a genre writer — and find out what this means. This was, and is, good advice for me, but it may not be for you. Don’t get hung up on labels for your work — write it, and when you’re done you will see where it belongs.
*do not get an MFA or any other kind of fancy degree. You will make the most of the fancy degrees you’ve already gotten, but you don’t need any more. Unless you are planning to teach creative writing at a university, this is still good advice. You do not need an expert to confer the title “writer” upon you — only you can do that.
*don’t give up! You are already good enough! All you need is practice… This was true, is true, and will always be true. Believe in your passion for writing, and keep doing it. The more you write, the better you’ll get.
Now this kind of time travel I like. I don’t look on my past as a dreamer as any kind of a failure, to the contrary I want to go back in time and thank that insecure person every day for continuing to dream. I believe that by learning from the past, we can all change the future.
Michele Lang writes supernatural tales: the stories of witches, lawyers, goddesses, bankers, demons, and other magical creatures hidden in plain sight. Author of the LADY LAZARUS historical fantasy series, Michele’s most recent book in the series, REBEL ANGELS, released March 2013.
Michele is also a lawyer who has practiced the unholy craft of litigation in both New York and Connecticut. She returned to her native New York shortly before 9/11, and now lives in a small town on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband, her sons, and a rotating menagerie of cats, hermit crabs, and butterflies.