And Then You Go on
When I got my Masters Degree I went back to work the next day to find that nothing had changed. I thought, “Now that I have an advanced degree, it will be easier to do therapy.” It was not. The people who were difficult to work before the degree ceremony with were just as difficult afterward. Shouldn't they appreciate the time and effort that had gone into getting my degree? Maybe they should but they didn't.
I had some of the same “magical thinking.” i.e., irrational ideas, about my Ph.D. I put in additional time and effort, managing to rack up considerable debt, very little changed in my life. Nothing changed about my work. Friends of mine in the program, who had been selling off their furniture piece by piece to squeak through financially, went to a car dealer with proof of their degrees. Before they had the pieces of paper that showed their degrees, the dealer would not sell them a new car. With the documentation, the dealer accepted their rust bucket, which was coughing up its carburetor and sold them a new car at a ridiculously high interest rate. I noticed people returned phone calls more quickly to Dr. Bull than they had to Mr. Bull. That was about it.
I wrote a 100,000 plus word novel. Nothing changed. Nine years after the idea for the novel came to me, the novel was published. A few things changed. I could call myself an author, although I later met unpublished people who used the same word for themselves. There is no clear demarcation so I don't disagree with them. I tried to sell the book. Ha! I tried to understand the voodoo of Amazon's rating of sales. Triple Ha!
I started attending the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave, working with a critique group and seeking professional editors, which did improve my writing. I started to learn from Sisters in Crime and Guppies. I used Mystery Writers of America as a resource and found other information on line. I continued to write, won a few prizes, and started the process over again. I joined the Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime. I put three novels up on Kindle. A small publisher talked to me and brought one of them out as a paperback. I won a mysterious photograph of the month contest by Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine which edged my earnings from approved publisher just above the requirement and became an active member of Mystery Writers of America.
And now its time to go on. The more I achieve the more I change the goals I have for myself. It's great to win an award, to get something published, to have more than one title up at a time. I have enjoyed all of those achievements, but even though I believe and have evidence to show that my skills are improving, the process of working as a writer has not changed a whit. I sit down in front of a screen, type something crappy and then I have to tighten it with a red pencil, check to see that I did not change the characters names mid plot and send it through the refinery. Not much has changed in the day-to-day activities.
Now I go on.