Category Archives: Dedication

Author Spotlight: Mercedes Prunty

If you’ve been following along this year, I’ve featured many new and “new to you” authors on my blog. I believe in supporting my fellow authors and I hope you’ve been able to find new authors to follow and read. Here’s my latest “Author Spotlight,” author Mercedes Prunty, author of Junia and many more books.


Hi Mercedes, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, well I’m a mother, wife, author and blogger and I currently reside in a small seaside town in East Sussex in the UK. I trained as a hairdresser before finding out I was pregnant with my eldest and it was on my maternity leave when I was bored (Before the baby arrived) that I really started writing. I had always written things as a teenager such as short stories and poems in my notebooks in class instead of paying attention so I guess it’s always been in me to write but I didn’t think I would pursue it. But I didn’t actually write and self-publish my first book until after I’d had my second child. I just needed a confidence push to get me going, which my husband gave me with a pep talk of ‘If you don’t try you’ll never know’ and I’m so glad he told me to.

 

How long have you been writing?

Properly, about 4 years. Not properly, my whole life.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

My first proper novel idea came to me whilst visiting my grandparents. My baby was asleep in her travel cot and my grandad had a documentary on TV about temples in Peru and ancient gateways around the world and to be honest I’d always loved things like ‘Tomb raider or Indiana Jones’ and that was when the idea hit me. So I wrote it down and threw it in a drawer, that was until a night feed at 1am one night and I was wide awake, so I wrote the first chapter, the next night the next chapter and so on. It still took me a year to write but that’s what awakened the true writer in me. Thanks Nan and Grandad.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

It’s a novel which is going to be around 50,000 words, I’m writing it for a competition and that’s around the limit they want, because normally my novels are 100,000+ words. It will be a stand-alone and it’s a Zombie horror novel set in my home town. (I mean why not right?) The idea for this one came to me in a dream and I began writing it, then I spotted the competition and thought, why not.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

Fantasy and Horror and those are the genre’s I mainly read although I will read pretty much anything just depends on my mood.

 

JuniaWhat authors influenced you?

Funnily enough one of the authors who influenced me a lot was S.D.Perry who wrote the novel adaptions from the Capcom game ‘Resident Evil’. As a teen I was obsessed with Zombie horror (I still am) but I loved those books and read them to death, literally, I had to buy them all again they were unreadable after the 57th time. Another author who influence me was Laurell K Hamilton, this mainly influenced my voice as for most of my works I write in first person as she did with the Anita Blake novels but with my new WIP I am in third person which is actually a nice change.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the Resident Evil series that are adaptions of the films. (See I told you I liked zombies). I recently brought the last book in the series but thought I would read them all in a book marathon so I remember what happens and can envision it like one long film. Although I have seen the films hundreds of times over too.

 

AloneDo you write every day? A few days per week?

If and when I can. I have two young children and it’s hard to find the time sometimes. So I just wing it and if I have a quiet day I’ll write, if it’s crazy I don’t.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

I have to listen to music when I write, I get so easily distracted by other noises, even the fridge talking distracts me. (My desk is in the kitchen. I’m not really a piggy…much). I tend to have a separate playlist for each novel but I mainly listen to film or video game soundtracks. For my book Junia I listened to the Final Fantasy X soundtrack on repeat for months.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

It’s neater and by that I mean less sloppy, my vocabulary is broadening, my ideas getting more vivid, less mistakes but still a few, the formatting and page layout has improved. I take it all in my stride though and learn as I go along.

 

KeeperOfTheKeyHow do you create the covers for your books?

I’ve done photography and art in school and college (Before I went off to do hairdressing), so I love drawing and taking photos so I tend to use them as my covers. One day I would love a cover to be made for me but my finances can’t accommodate that so I use my own, which isn’t a bad thing as people have commented on how they like my covers as they are not all the same generic ones you get from the shop.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

The Resident Evil films and games, The Last of Us video game (Honestly if you haven’t played it you haven’t lived, it is awesome and so is the soundtrack), Final Fantasy X video game, (I like video games if you haven’t guessed and yes I am a bit of a geek). The Walking Dead… Just anything Zombie horror and Fantasy.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

‘Suddenly Alicia stopped, it looked as if she was trying to listen to something behind the scream of the alarms. Joel stopped and raised his gun up still holding onto the case, then his eyes widened. “RUN!” he screamed grabbing Maria’s hand and dragging her along the corridor.

Glenn turned to see a whole army of the turned chasing after them, their eyes focused on one thing, “The case Joel, drop the case!” He shouted as he also took Alicia’s hand and ran behind them.’

It’s not been edited yet but I’m working on it so this part may or may not change.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Hard to choose just one but… Maybe… The Enemy by Charlie Higson. (Yes it’s another Zombie horror book)

 

How do you market your books?

Social media mostly because it’s cheap / mostly free although I have been planning to try and branch out a little into the paid Facebook and Amazon ads so we’ll soon see if they bring any more punters in. I have also been to a few book festival type events and sold a few copies there too.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

They are all available on Amazon…

From Amazon.com

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

From Amazon.co.uk

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

 

Where can we find you online?

Twitter – @MercedesPrunty

Facebook author page

Blog

 

LoneIf you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I chose the Indie route because I have so many ideas in my brain for stories, that I worried I would forever be trying to find agents or publishers and not have time to write. I have been told by many that even if you score a publishing deal with a traditional publisher that they might not want to take on all your works, so that would mean finding new agents again and I can’t be harassed with that. Although if one day I decided to try it I wouldn’t mind giving traditional a good go. I guess right now the indie scene suits me and it’s so hot right now it’s a great and inspirational scene to be involved in.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Never give up, keep writing, even when it all feels like rubbish and your failing you truly are not. True writers never give up, quitters are the people who didn’t believe and you must believe.

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

Hi there! How are ya? Doing good? I hope so.

I’ve got a secret for you.

I love you.

There, I said it. Don’t tell my wife though, she might get jealous. But in all honesty, I love you.

All those hours I’ve spent crafting a story or a novel are spent with you in mind. Did you know that? Did you know when all writers say “I write for myself,” that they’re kinda lying to you? Just a little. I mean we do write what we enjoy but ultimately it’s with you in mind.

I know I know. If we love our craft we should be doing this solely for ourselves. We should do it for the love of doing it. We should expect nothing and be content with the idea that we created something from nothing.

Yeah that’s cool and righteous but really…what’s a writer without a reader?

Without you I’m that guy that always wanted to be a writer. I’d be the person that says “I’ve been working on this story for years. Just waiting to get it right. Or get the time. Or whatever excuse I come up with.” Without the expectation that someone will actually read the darn thing, I’m twisting in the breeze like a sheet out on the line.

But because of you Dear Reader, I can call myself a writer. You’ve taken time out of your busy life to spend it with me. I don’t take that commitment lightly. When you do that–when you share in something so intimate and meaningful to me–you own a part of me. The words you read expose a little bit about me to you.

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Not that the story directly reflects what I want to do or wish to do (I mean there are times when time travel sounds pretty cool) however because I created it, what you read is deeply personal to me.

When you share your thoughts about it, when you’re excited to ask me questions about this character or that story line, I’m screaming inside like a junior high cheerleader. I’ve kept your attention and thoughts long enough for you to care. What an amazing feeling!

And then, when you’re through with my work and leave a review, when you dare click a button and type a few words so others might share in your experience–OMG! It’s a feeling unlike any other.

Dear Reader, you are why I can rightly and confidently call myself a writer. Your time with me is never taken for granted. I treasure it like a pirate.

Argh…welcome aboard matey. I appreciate your stay.

Sincerely,

Jason “Black Jack” Nugent


Psst: Dear Reader, why not check out my newest scifi adventure novel The Selection on Amazon right now? You can even try your hand at winning a free signed paperback copy over on GoodReads. Thanks!

Dear Writer

Dear Writer,

Hi, my name is Jason. I’m not special. I’m not an authority. I’m not a collegiately trained writer (well, sort of). I’m an (almost) average Joe. But I have something to say.

You know that story you keep meaning to write? Remember that idea burning a hole in your skull? Can you picture those characters that feel so life-like to you? Yeah, that. Do you remember?

Why aren’t you writing?

I met many writers this past weekend that said “I don’t have the time” or “I keep meaning to get back to the story” or some other lame excuse. I’m not gonna sugercoat it for you–write the damn thing!

Your first draft will suck. It will. No amount of “revision as you go” will do it any justice. Be ok with this. Embrace it. You must write a first draft in order to edit and revise.

The time excuse doesn’t fly. Do you have fifteen minutes a day? No? Find it. Put the game controller down. Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb.” Wake up fifteen minutes earlier. Eat a faster lunch to leave time for writing. Instead of watching that tv show in the evening–write. You can always find a quick fifteen minutes of your day to set aside for writing if you evaluate what you’re actually doing with your time and decide what can be cut from your day in order to give your dream a chance. You decide what you do with your spare time, not someone else. Pretty soon, that fifteen minutes will magically expand to twenty. Then to thirty, and then till you’re too tired to make any sense at all (remember, the first draft will suck!)

I’ve got a secret for you, and unlike a magician, I’m gonna share. Do you know how a novel gets completed? By stringing together pages of words. Those pages are made up of paragraphs. Paragraphs are made from sentences. And those sentences are made from words. Write one word. Add another. Add a couple more. That’s progress kids. Keep typing. E-V-E-R-Y word you add to your story is progress. When your time is short, just remember every word you write is one step closer to completion. Your story is moving forward.

Get the words out. If you really want to write, don’t say “I want to.” Do it! Add a couple words at a time. Soon enough you’ll have a sentence, then a paragraph, then a page, and so on.  Be ok with the first draft sucking. Just get it done. Then go back and fix it.

Like I said at the beginning, I’m not an expert, but I have gone through this process. All it takes to go from “I want to write” to “I’m a writer” is putting down one word at a time.

You got this!

 

Your friend,

-Jason

 

Lessons In Rejection

I’ve been on a mission this year to send more stories out to the wild, hoping they will find good homes. Like a mother bird nudging her chicks off the branch, I’ve been watching and waiting for them to land.

Last year I found myself consumed by doubt. I won’t bore you with the details or the “oh poor me” post. What my doubt did was force me into action.

I’m accustomed to rejections for my short stories. Considering there are maybe 1,000 or so stories submitted to many publications-per month!-it’s not difficult to see how the numbers stack against emerging writers.

I decided to treat each and every rejection as an opportunity for growth. I asked myself a ton of questions: What did I do wrong? How can I make the story stronger? Is the story written poorly? Do I have a jumbled plot? Are my characters relatable?  Did I send it to the right place? 

stamp-2114884_960_720When a rejection comes in, I’ll revisit the story and address what might be wrong. I’ve enlisted other writers and readers for feedback. Once satisfied with the result, I send it back out, hoping it finds a home.

I keep a running document in Google Docs detailing every story submission, when it’s submitted, and whether or not it was accepted or rejected. The document is lengthy. Every story has multiple rejections.

I’m convinced my years in sales prepared me with the thick skin needed to endure constant rejection. Like in my job, I’ve learned to not take rejection personally. Sales and writing aren’t for everyone. If you intend on being successful, meaning-selling your goods/stories-you have to be willing to hear “no” more than you want but pushing harder for a “yes.”

So far this year I’ve accumulated double digit rejections tempered with one acceptance (I’ll post more about that soon!) If you want to succeed, keep trying. And when you get there, please let me know how to follow your path!


Maria Haskins, an excellent writer that you must learn more about, has an awesome post about submitting short stories. Check it out here for inspiration and a good list of what worked for her.

The End is Here!

It’s Monday September 5th, 2016 and in the US we’re celebrating Labor Day. It’s also the end of the Summer of Writing!

Back in July I created a challenge to write every day called “Summer of Writing.” It was meant to encourage anyone who writes and get them writing something, anything, every day from the 4th of July to Labor Day. We are at the end of the challenge. If you participated, how’d you do? Get more writing done? Focus more on your craft?

I’m proud to say I completed it knowing I wrote something every single day. I worked on projects soon to be released (like my new collection of stories), I worked on existing projects, I wrote outlines, blog posts, and more. All in the name of writing.

I made it a priority. Every morning I wake up, have coffee, and read or play games on my ipad. Instead, I used the time to write before the stress of the day zapped my creative energy. I found writing at the end of the day difficult and often unproductive. Working in the early morning when the house is quiet was the best for me to focus on my writing. There were occasional days when I didn’t get to write in the morning and I’d write in the evening but all day I kept thinking how I needed to get the words out.

That was by far the most important part of the challenge for me. I created a new habit in my life which will dominate my thoughts if I don’t take care of it. I made it more than a hobby or something I’d get to when I had time. I made the time. When I did that, everything else fell into place.

Like all writing some of it was bad, but I feel I’ve grown in the craft because I made a deliberate attempt to do so. Maybe I’m wrong and fooling myself. I’ve gone through moments when I wanted to stop. I thought “Who cares if I keep at it? No one reads what I write anyway.” I expressed that to my wife one morning and in her wisdom she told me not to give up, to keep at it, and if I loved what I was doing to continue no matter what. Those are things we’ve all heard but her words held more weight for me. I trudged on. My focus changed. I found the joy again. Even if I’m the only one who reads it.

The biggest sacrifice I made to create this new habit was my gym time. I used to go semi-regularly with a friend of mine to our local gym. We were one of the early risers and be home around six in the morning. I chose to use that time to write instead. I can honestly say my middle-aged body misses the workouts. Don’t get me wrong, I hated getting up and leaving the house so early. I always looked for excuses to get out of it. The determination I used to build my writing habit needs to be applied to exercising. I’ll need to incorporate working out into my schedule or I won’t be around long enough to see all my amazing fans!

I appreciate all of you that tried the challenge. Lakesha Mathis, Aaron Hamilton, John Smith, and others all attempted to make a change and if nothing else, I hope you were able to refocus your time over the summer to work on your writing.

It has been a summer of growth. Thanks for sticking with me. Let me know your successes or failures so we can all learn from them. Thanks again!

Wanna find out when my new book is coming out? Sign up today for my spam-free newsletter! Click here to sign up.

End of Summer Reflection

For the past couple months I’ve been all over the place with writing. Do I keep at it? Do I continue to share with others? Should I stop? Hey, let’s build a Fantasy world for a new novel! Write every day!

Yeah, I’ve covered it all.

I did come to the conclusion that I enjoy writing even if no one else likes it. I think about my current projects all day. It gives me something to expend my increasingly failing intelligence on. Instead of succumbing to the latest episode of Impractical Jokers (thanks for that son!) I use my grey matter to explore new worlds and new people with new problems.

Not that there’s anything wrong with entertainment to escape reality. I mean, that’s what reading is, right? But I’d like to think my efforts are not without long term consequences.

When I started writing many moons ago, it was because I enjoyed creating something original. Something that would succeed or fail on my merits. No one else’s. There’s something freeing yet terrifying about that.

This summer has been a long exercise in patience and learning. I’ve changed how I write and made it a priority instead of an “I’ll get to it when I get to it” activity. I start my days reading and with dedicated time to add new words to stories. I started the Summer of Writing because I needed a push forward. It’s been amazing how undeterred determination improved my outlook on this fascinating craft I love.

Now I’m growing excited as I’ve spent many weeks building a fantasy world I intend on writing about within the coming week. I’ve spent more time on the outline and character creation and overall world building than I’ve ever done. I’ve attempted fantasy novels before but always falter about 10,000 words in. Not this time. I’m setting myself up for success. I hope you’ll stick with me as I build this world and share it with you.

In early October I’ll be releasing a new collection of short stories and couldn’t be more thrilled with the project. I’ll be revealing more info soon. (Better yet, sign up to my email list and be one of the first to know!)

Thanks for your time. Thanks for sticking with me in my moments of doubt. Thanks for your continued support.

Franken-script

Franken-script was a poorly written manuscript forced on readers who in return gave kind advice and suggestions. This flawed yet loved manuscript was lightly revised to eliminate the ultra-yucky parts and considered to be a prize winning student.

It found an editor to love it and whip it into shape. And that’s where the fun begins!

The brutal editor claimed a skeleton lay underneath the ragged body of a manuscript but would take a whole lot of work to add muscle and skin. Deep sorrow followed. It wasn’t the prize winning student after all. It was in fact a poor-mans representation of what a manuscript should be. A body created with inferior parts.

Two days later while playing at a writers conference, the grotesque manuscript found its way onstage in front of an auditorium filled with other writers in a slush-pile exercise. Out of almost a hundred manuscripts submitted, it was chosen at random to be one of just 6–6!!! manuscripts read out loud for all to hear. A panel of New York agents, editors, and small publishers judged when they’d reject it and move on. Followed by commentary. A slaughter ensued.

Fortunately it was anonymous and no one is the wiser. To protect the innocent I will not reveal the name of the bloody manuscript.

On the hour drive home from the conference with the tattered remains of the manuscript oozing in my car, I had a revelation. Or something.

Patchwork repair was no good. Severe trauma isn’t fixed with duct tape. This required reconstructive surgery.

Not long after arriving home, the new plan was set in place. I could rebuild it. Make it stronger. I had the tools. It would take time but in the end the skeleton will hold up to the new body created for it.

A new manuscript began. A new direction was created. New life emerged from the once monstrous manuscript. No longer would it be known by it’s former shell. It lives! It lives!

So let the lesson be learned. Out of hubris do not force an ugly, rotten, disgusting manuscript on the masses. Rebuild it. Gut it. Strip it to the gleaming white bones and layer strand after strand of new vibrant muscle until it beats again with life.

And when you’re forced to see the awful truth under the bright light of scrutiny, don’t run and hide. Use your tools and make it beautiful.

Doubt doesn’t belong in the lab.

 

*Note: The brutal editor is in fact an excellent editor and held nothing back for which I am grateful. 

Ready for Rejection?

Rejection sucks! Whether it’s from another person, your boss, or anyone else – rejection sucks! This past year has been a boon for me in terms of rejection.

I’ve got a file I keep of all submitted stories and queries. I’ve got over 40 rejections with only 1 acceptance! I’m not the greatest with math, but the percentage of my work accepted is pretty dang low. I thought about it and there are a few reasons why I’ve experienced so many “no” emails and only one “yes” email.

My first and most important thought is my writing needs to be better. I don’t blame others for my failings. I own my shortcomings and learn from them. I do think my writing needs improvement. I work on it almost daily. I’ve gone to a writer’s conference earlier this year and I work on the craft much more now than I ever have. I can see improvement in how I write from a year ago. I’m positive if I continue to hone my craft, I’ll get better as I practice. It’s kinda like running. I can’t go out and run a marathon if I don’t start training. I have to build up my body in order to run the race. Writing is the same way. If I work at it and learn my failings, I can grow and be a better writer.

I’ve mentioned this before, but in one of the rejections I received for a manuscript, the publisher was kind enough to offer a few critiques. The one that’s stuck out with me was “you can write, but you can do better.” It was validation that I’ve got some talent but could still learn a lot more. I was grateful to get such a response.

Second, maybe I’ve been sending it to the wrong places. I’ve targeted the major markets (Daily Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Nightmare Magazine, etc) hoping to break through and grace their publications. Nope, not this year. And that’s fine. It’s a learning experience. Fortunately I don’t need to sell stories in order to support my family. Looking at magazines and journals that don’t pay pro rates might be where I need to focus. It would help build an audience and get my name exposed to more and more readers.

Lastly, and this ties in with the second, is that I’m incorrectly identifying my stories and sending them to the wrong places. It’s possible my work doesn’t fit their magazines at all and I need to look for other sources to get my name out there. I need to reevaluate my stories and where I send them in order to find better matches.

I believe in my work. I trust I have some amount of skill. More importantly I enjoy writing stories. When I get so involved in writing that I can see the characters as vivid as if they were standing in front of me and hear them speaking to each other, that’s when it’s the absolute best. There is nothing like it.

I’ll continue to submit stories. I’ll keep sending queries. Maybe this time next year, I’ll have another list of rejection but a few more acceptances. I won’t know unless I try.

Anniversary! (Sort of)

Today is a great day in literary history! And you get to share in the excitement and be part of it just by reading this. Sound exciting? Sweet!

OK, let me explain.

I started this blog in 2013 at Blogger. Earlier this year, I switched over to WordPress and couldn’t be happier with the decision.

In October of 2014, I made a commitment to myself and my readers to post at least 3 times a month: the 5th, 15th, and 25th. I reserved the 15th for releasing new flash fiction I’d written over the previous year and a half. The 5th and 25th were reserved for essays on anything that came to mind.

I’m proud to say I’ve made it an entire year sticking with my plan! (Check the archives button, it’s all there I promise!)

Sure I’d like to post more and I might in the future. Having a consistent schedule made me stop and write, if only for a brief moment each month.

I made a promise to myself and the payoff has been worth it. Each month I gain new readers and reach a larger audience. It’s pretty dang difficult going from obscurity to raising your voice loud enough to be heard in the ever growing world of writing and blogging. To those that have shared my posts and directed new readers my way, I cannot say thank you enough for your generous support and encouragement.

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I know writers that post weekly or daily or whenever the mood strikes them. I can’t do that. I need structure or I won’t be consistent. If nothing else, you the reader know to expect a new essay or story three times a month.

I’ve learned a lot about writing this past year. Having promised myself to write monthly, I kinda had to! I’ve written more this year than ever before and even had a story published! Dedicating myself to the blog helped keep me focused and constantly learning. Part of that involved thinking more about the act and process of writing and gaining new perspectives through attending a writing conference in June.

Lately I’ve toyed with the idea of serializing one of my unpublished novels and releasing two chapters a month. I’m still leaning that way and will update you when the decision is made. Better yet, follow this blog on WordPress or through email (see the button on the side…makes following by email easy. Come on, you can do it!)

Thanks again to everyone that’s commented or shared my posts. I appreciate everyone that’s stopped by and lurked without sharing but at least you made it here and my words found their way into your brains.

It’s been a tremendous twelve months since I first dedicated myself to writing on my blog. Where it goes from here, I have no idea.

Here’s to another successful year!

Writing the Race (or Running for the Writer)

Writing the Race (or Running for the Writer)
Running has been an activity I kinda fell into.  Several years ago, I’d been working out at the gym trying to stay in shape.  Every April there’s a local race called the River to River Relay Race that I’d been wanting to try but never had the courage to do.  My assistant at the time knew I’d thought about it and she convinced me that with a little extra work running (especially hills) then I’d be in perfect shape to give it a try.  I worked hard and by the time the race came, I was excited and ready.  It was a fun time and I was hooked.
Before then, I’d never run.  Ever.  I was a skateboarder growing up, but I’d never gone for a jog or any other running.  The River to River Relay is like doing three 5K races in one day.  On hills.  Ask anyone who’s done it and they will always talk about hills.  It’s not for the feint of heart.  And that was my first race ever. 
After conquering that race, I ran regularly and entered several 5K races.  The best I placed was second in my age group, but that was more by default than anything else.  There were only four or five in my age group at that race.  But it was a win.  I felt like I belonged.  
I’ve been running part-time since then and it’s a great way for me to stay in shape.  I enjoy the mental clarity I gain while running.  My mind will clear itself of all extraneous thoughts and creativity flourishes.  Some of my best ideas came while running.  It gives me a chance to sort through my thoughts and form them into something coherent.  I’ve been able to figure out plot points and story twists all while climbing up hills and running along roads.
I didn’t start with the hills and I didn’t one day wake up and claim to be a runner.  “Hello day!  It is I, runner Jason!”  No, instead it took a lot of practice.  I couldn’t run a 5K without training shorter distances.  I had to get my breathing under control and recognize the limits of my body while training.  
I’m sure I’m not the first one to make the connection, but the steps it takes to be successful as a runner are the same as writing.
It’s not like all of a sudden I claimed the title of “Writer” either.  I had to work up to it.  I wrote.  I failed.  I had to see what training steps I needed to succeed.  I worked on my craft.  I couldn’t just start writing a novel without some concepts and artistry to fall back on.  
I tried NaNoWriMo four years ago and failed.  I didn’t know what I was getting into.  I had no idea what it took to write a 50,000 word creative piece.  I’d written a 75 page thesis for my Master’s degree, but that was a different kind of writing.  
After failing that year, I read more.  I searched for sources to help me collect my thoughts and write a long piece of fiction that had plot, theme, and characters well thought out and researched.  That year, I was able to come back and win NaNo and the confidence it gave me has sustained me to this day.
I’m not published anywhere other than this blog.  I’ve written over twenty flash fiction/short stories and have three NaNo novels under my belt.  
Just like my first real race and the momentum I gained, winning that year in NaNo was crucial to building my confidence.
I still read, I still seek ways to improve in both running and writing, and one day I hope to be better than what I am now at both things.  
Running and writing both take a tremendous amount of patience, dedication, and practice.  You can never have enough of any of those three if you are going to succeed.  Sometimes I want to give it all up, the running and writing, but then I realize I enjoy both too much to stop.  I gain so much from both that it would do me no good to give up.  I have to push on.  I have to endure.  I have to work harder to be better.  One day it will all pay off.