College then work. It’s a right-of-passage most of us go through in one form or another. Some multiple times. And I realized recently that I was on wave two.
College Years = Aspiring Author
This is when everything is shiny and possible and fun. You take classes, hang out in coffee shops, meet new people. You put in long hours studying, sometimes longer hours partying. Each new class brings on a new level of excitement and the possibilities are endless.
I started college as an art history major. The first year, I changed majors twice. I changed two more times before finally settling on English Lit. I dabbled in set design and lighting, political science, experimental psych, drafting, and graphic design.
Looking back, the aspiring author years were very much like college.
When I dipped my toe into the writing pond, it was with chick lit in mind. It was at the height of that genre bubble and a lot of what I was reading at the time. I wrote three picture books. I have a middle grade novel in progress. And I’ve written a couple of women’s fiction stories.
Over the years, I’ve taken every workshop I could fit into my schedule and afford. I joined writer’s groups (the equivalent of sororities/fraternities I suppose). I don’t frequent coffee shops much but I have a very solid relationship with the espresso machine in my kitchen.
I took on all sorts of extra-curricular activities, which in this case, included volunteering with various writer’s groups, joining blogs, and setting up on every social media platform that was listed as a must for writers.
Gap Year/Graduate School = Debut Author
I didn’t take a typical gap year. I worked for a year but only because I decided at the last minute that, on second thought, I had absolutely no interest in law school and then had to wait while my applications for journalism school went through.
But then came graduate school. Oh my god was that fun. I was finally where I belonged. I loaded up my class hours and took on as many internships as I could fit into my schedule.
Being a debut author felt wildly like being a grad student again. Working on revisions with my editor had shades (mostly red) of working on my thesis with my advisor. “Internships” became more writer’s groups, this time focused on connecting with readers and signing up for author events. Confession: I was far less nervous defending my thesis than the first time I had to talk about my book.
Working World = Published Author
I was lucky with my first job. With most of my jobs actually. I loved going to the office, enjoyed the work I was doing, had fun with my colleagues. I put in ridiculous amounts of hours and it was worth it.
But as I got busier with work, I also realized that not everything I’d been doing fit into my new life. I didn’t have as much free time or, more appropriately, flexible time. Priorities had to be established and choices made.
Now that my first book is out in the world and my second book is about to go into production, I’m realizing just how many parallels there are with that earlier stage in my life. There are limited hours and unlimited demands.
Like the adjustment period after I joined the working world, I’ve had to evaluate a lot of what I’m spending my time on lately. And the sad truth is that once again, choices have to be made.
And with that, I’m stepping aside from my regular involvement with Writers in the Storm. I’ve learned so much from all of you – contributors and commenters – over the years and I’ve loved being part of this community. I’ll still be around, reading, commenting, and contributing. But for now, I’m packing up my pens and coffee mugs.
I'll see you in the comments and on social media!
Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world, where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the Tall Poppy Writers. She is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.
Orly’s debut, The Distance Home (Forge), released on May 2, 2017.