I’ve always written, to some extent. Not always in English (I was raised in Dutch and actually learned French before I learned English), but always in some capacity or another. Even when I’m not physically writing, I’m thinking up crazy stories, usually scary or disturbing ones, and until I was about 16 I was worried that there was something wrong with me mentally because I had a constant, ongoing third-person narrative running in the background.
But 2011 showed me a very different side to writing, one many budding writers seem to be unaware of. Networking.
You already know (and if you don’t, you can read my earlier entries) that my participation in World’s Collider and subsequent publishing by Opencasket Press were down to a chance meeting on Facebook. Clearly, networking served me very well in that instance.
But you know how it all started? With voluntary work. I did some editing, proofreading and general all-round dogsbodying* for Hirst Books, which helped to make that connection and eventually developed into a paying, if sporadic, gig that led to my ability to make it as a freelance writer.
On another, but similar note: my short story, Shadows, which has been published in the anthology Horror Carnival, was a freebie. I basically gave it away… And built some goodwill in the process (as well as, obviously, adding another publication to my CV as a writer). What’s more; I had a publisher express interest in my zombie-novel-in-progress as a result.
It’s easy, as a writer, to get hung up on money and whatnot. Don’t underestimate the value of doing things for free… It may well end up being a career-building move.
* By far the best part of being a writer is making up new words whenever you need them.