Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Joining the Fun

Hi there! I'm Delancey Stewart, and I'm so excited to be here. I've followed Operation Awesome for a while, and I was very flattered to be asked to join. I will be honest...it was Awesome.

Anyway, I figured a brief introduction might be in order.

You've probably figured out that I'm a writer. And like most other people brave enough to call themselves "writer," I've been writing in one form or another for most of my life. I majored in English in college, and really believed that one day I'd sit down and write an amazing book that would take the world by storm and change my life. At 22, I really believed that was how it would happen. Some magical inspiration would strike, and everything would be different from that point forward.

If you've ever written a book, you probably know this isn't what happened at all.

Instead, I worked for a big publishing company for a year. Then I got a teaching credential, and then I had a chance to move to New York City, so I did that. In New York, I did marketing, working in the burgeoning Internet world, until the World Trade Center fell on 9/11. Pretty much everyone I knew was laid off either before or after that horrible day, and so we spent a few months wandering the city, day drinking and collecting unemployment. When I was fairly certain that no Internet marketing jobs were hidden beneath bar stools in the city, I packed up and returned to California.

I lived with my parents for three months. I was 28. It was a low point. My parents are lovely people. But...

Luckily, I found a job as a pharmaceutical rep and moved to San Diego. I met my husband, a Marine. We got married. He deployed and I decided to become a personal trainer. And then, when he got home, we started moving all over the place. At some point in that process, we had two boys and I took a job as a tech writer for a company that contracts to the government. I just celebrated my five year anniversary with that company.

The point of that long history is that at no point in those twentyish years did I write an astounding novel that changed the world. And about two years ago I was 39, facing a landmark birthday, and still holding on to the belief that I was meant to write books.

But at that point I had a bit more perspective. And I knew that the things I'd valued most in my life had been the things that I'd worked hard to achieve. So I put myself to work.

And I wrote a paranormal YA novel that was... pretty horrible. But it taught me a lot. I spent about six months on it, writing, revising, even querying. And then I set it aside and focused on craft. I took some more writing classes, read lots of books and began writing short stories. And I started editing manuscripts for two small publishers. And realized that genre fiction was lots more fun to write than literary, and perhaps easier in some ways because there were established formulas for some genres. I was editing romance, and learning a lot about tropes and structure, so that was the way I went.

At this point, I have two self-published romance series out -- The Wine Country Romances, and The Company. I also have two contracts for other romance series with publishers. One of those series is the Girlfriends of Gotham (based on the time I lived in NYC in the late 90s). The other is a historical new adult series that I'm really excited to have out in the world (early 2015).

I still work as a tech editor for the government contractor, I still take freelance editing work from other writers and some of my long-standing clients, and I still have two little boys. So writing, in my life, happens very early in the morning and sometimes on the weekends if the little guys are quiet long enough for me to put a sentence together. That said, it's the thing that I am about. It's the thing that I think about when other things aren't great, and it's the thing I'm most proud of. It's my passion, and I'm so glad I put in the work to pursue it.

My question to you is this -- when did you (or will you) define yourself as a writer? What kinds of shifts did you have to make to acquire that title? (Mental, physical, environmental...)


mystery stories said...

I'll follow your work Delancey Stewart :)

Kell Andrews said...

Hi Delcancey! Welcome.

I always wanted to be a writer but aspired to nonfiction magazine writing first. I was an editor first, but eventually got enough bylines in my day job that I felt comfortable saying I was a writer. Now I write fiction too, so I still say it. The question -- what do you write -- is the same, but the answer is different -- I write copy for adults and fiction for children.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Welcome, Delancey! I was guilty of saying "I want to be a writer" (meaning "a published writer") for far too long. I've been writing since junior high, but I was convinced it didn't count until I'd been published. But now, I tell people, "If you're actively writing, then you're a writer. Even if no one but your cat witnesses any actual proof of writing."

JeffO said...

Welcome, Delancey, and thanks for sharing your journey.

I defined myself as a writer, hmm, maybe 2 years ago. The biggest 'shift' was admitting it in public, and letting friends and family in on the secret. That was surprisingly tough!

Michelle McLean said...

So excited to have you here! :)

I think I started defining myself as a writer about 10 years ago (can't believe it's been that long!) when I first started actively trying to get published and started learning and becoming involved in the whole publishing world.

J Lenni Dorner said...

Welcome! Great to meet you.
A teacher told me I was a writer when I was nine. My elders told me I was a writer when I hit my teen years. As a young adult, I heard my peers call me a writer.
("Who is J?"
"You know, that writer kid."
"Oh, yeah, right.")

So I've been calling myself a writer for about as long.
There was a very depressing time period after some horrible tragedy where I didn't write for a while. A writer that doesn't write? Well, it was a time period of darkness where I was more dead than alive, so yes, I suppose so. BUT- it was writing again that brought be back. It was coming back to my calling that refilled me with life.

So yes, I'm a writer. Even if I haven't published much in a few years. I'm working on it. I'm back, and I'm attacking this much changed industry the best that I can.

Writer and proud. Nice to meet you.

Delancey Stewart said...

I began as a copywriter, too, Kell! (And my day job - the one that pays bills - is still as a technical writer...) Good luck with both!

Delancey Stewart said...

I agree, Angelica. I think that once you're comfortable saying it, magical things can happen. I just found out that a friend of mine has been writing this hilarious mystery chick-lit novel for years and hiding it. She didn't feel like a 'writer' and didn't want anyone to know. Now I think she's solidly on the path to publication, and I have no doubt her book will be wildly popular (I got to edit it for her and loved every second!) It's a matter of owning the word, I think!

Delancey Stewart said...

Thank you!

Delancey Stewart said...

It's funny that we say things like "admitting it," Jeff... like it's a dirty little secret! I don't think aspiring actors suffer from the same lack of hubris! Glad you've let the cat out of the bag. I hope everyone is being supportive!

Delancey Stewart said...

I think there's a lifetime of information to absorb in terms of craft and business - I look forward to learning from your experience!

Delancey Stewart said...

Nice to meet you, too! And I know that horrible feeling of being a writer not writing. soul-crushing. Glad you're back.