(Photo courtesy of Joshua Harding)
To give my readers and fellow writers an insight into the processes and successes of other like-minded creatives, I'll be featuring some hardworking authors in my journal each week.
Today's author is Joshua Harding, and he's independently published.
Where do you get your ideas from, Joshua?
Usually while I'm on the toilet. No, seriously, I always get ideas in the most inconvenient places--and always when I don't have a pen. In the shower, after I've turned out the light and I'm trying to sleep, while I'm driving. My wife and I were moving our family from New Mexico to Texas and we'd stopped for the night at a hotel. At about 2:00 am I had to get up and sequester myself in the bathroom so I could write without waking my wife and kids. The muse just wouldn't be silent.
Why do you write?
Because if I didn't the voices in my head would never shut up - see above.
What do you find most appealing about your chosen genre?
Stories or films dealing with the interpersonal have never held my interest. I’ve got enough drama in my real life; I don’t need to get more of it in my art. I’d rather read or write a piece that makes me think and wonder and say, "I’ve never read anything like that before!” Throw some robots or zombies in there!
How do you deal with bad reviews, rejection and criticism?
I relish it! No, really, used to keep all of my rejection letters from publishers (back when they still sent hardcopy letters) tacked to the wall above my desk as a sort of morbid inspiration--a challenge for myself. Recently, there was a person who commented online that an award-winning story of mine sucked. I went on Facebook and celebrated my first troll. It was like I was finally official. I also attend writers' workshops regularly. Criticism (when it's honest) is the best tool to becoming the best writer you can be.
What do you find difficult about writing?
Carving out a solid hour every day to get it done. I get the most done when I'm doing it every single day. If I get off schedule, I lose practice and the content starts to suffer.
Do you ever outsource your work?
I don't edit my own work. Investing in an editor is money well spent. And, as an indie author, you can shop around and build a great relationship with the person who will work with you to bring your 'babies' to life.
What is your opinion on indie vs traditional publishing?
I think signing the rights to your hard work over to someone else versus the freedom to take your vision in the direction you want it to go just don't compare. It's a fascinating time to be an author. I'll admit, I used to dream that I'd sign on with one of the big publishing houses and then roll naked in my money while I worked on my next book. But, that's not the case whether you're traditionally published or self-published. You've got to help market your book no matter what. Embrace the hustle as an indie author. When all is said and done, it's my novel and my marketing plan. If it works, I can pat myself on the back; If it doesn't, I have no one else to blame.
Watch Joshua's appearance (Dec 2016) on my podcast, The White Room!
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Talk us through your creative process from start to finish.
(Inspiration. Elation. Frustration. Resignation.) *Kidding*
I usually take my germinal idea (like an old folks' home for androids, or a guy who dated Mother Nature, or God's ex-wife) then start to populate that setting or premise with characters--often people I've met in real life (with different names). Then I try to apply a standard story arc structure to it to give it a viable plot, which also helps solidify my ending. When I'm done with the first draft, I revise and edit heavily before I take it to a writers' workshop to get feedback on it.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I could be cliché and say that you should write every day (which you should). But I think what I've learned in recent years, especially in the social media environment is to seek out your fellow writers. We're in this together, not as competitors. Knowledge, inspiration, and exchange of ideas are why we do this. A victory for one author (indie, traditional, newbie, or established) is a victory for all of us. Connect and network with your peers. Fanboy (or girl) about the authors who influence you. Networking with other authors has introduced me to new books, built friendships, gotten exposure for my work, and helped me improve my craft.
If you could go back in time 12 months, what advice would you give yourself?
Ugh. I had a horror piece that had won an award and was featured on MrCreepyPasta's YouTube channel. It got thousands of views during the first week it was posted. At the same time, my novel wasn't finished yet and my author website was brand new. My site got tons of hits, but since there was no novel on there to sell, I missed a huge opportunity. I would advise myself to carefully time my releases so they have the greatest impact.
Thank you so much to author Joshua Harding for sharing his insights on writing and publishing books. If you would like to support Joshua and his work, please consider purchasing a copy of the book, Red Lakes, available on Amazon now. Check out the handy link below: