S. L. Saboviec’s fiction has appeared in Flash Fiction Online, AE, and elsewhere. Her debut novel received an honorable mention in the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’m one of those clichés–I started writing when I was a kid because I loved reading. However, I gave it up for years. I thought to myself, “Self, when you hit retirement, maybe you’ll devote your time to writing.” But for years, I felt like I was missing something. A good friend of mine read something I wrote and said, “Hey, what’s up with this?” And I said, “Well, I dunno, being a writer doesn’t pay the bills.” That might be true, but when I started writing again (in my early thirties–I didn’t wait until retirement!), I felt like I’d finally found the calling I’d been searching for. That was about four years ago, and I’ve come a long way since, writing over a dozen short stories and half a dozen novels.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
The writing is the most important thing. Learn to write–read books and forums and get critiqued and write some more. Everything else is a distraction.
Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
For the intermediate writer, just about anything by Donald Maass is gold. He talks about the more nuanced things, like symbolism and microtension. Every time I reread his books, I learn something new to apply.
If you could go back and find yourself five years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
Start writing TODAY!
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
One does not find time, one makes time. That’s true for every endeavor. I took a time management class when I was at the beginning of my (non-writing) career, and the rock/pebble/sand demonstration really stuck with me. If you’ve never heard it, here’s the rundown: Dump a bunch of sand into a bucket. Now try to add the big rocks. You can’t do it. You have to put the rocks in first and then add the sand around it. The metaphor is that your most important things (like writing) are the big rocks. Even if it’s just an appointment with yourself, you need to schedule it and keep the appointment like it’s with the President of the–er, no, let’s say Queen of England. So that’s what I do. I turn off my phone’s notifications (because otherwise I get distracted), and I write. It’s really as simple (and as difficult) as that.
Do you favor the traditional route or self-publishing?
I tried going the traditional route, but there are too many writers and not enough books being published. I had some interest from agents, but I wasn’t able to land one. And I have friends who have had more than one agent, and they still haven’t had a sale. It’s a tough, tough industry right now.
I told myself that in the meantime, I would learn about self-publishing, although now I’m not sure it’s “in the meantime.” I’ve self-published a series, but I did it very slowly and it’s hard to gain traction that way. I’m getting to the point where I’m about to launch a pen name in a niche market (SF romance), following all the self-publishing rules, which pretty much break all the traditional ones. It’s an interesting experiment, one I hope will pay off. If the method works, I will probably go back to writing and publishing the SFF that I love. Although, truth be told, I’m starting to love these books I’m writing. They just weren’t anything I ever planned to do.
How do you deal with rejections?
Every time something arrives in my inbox with a publishing-related email address, I expect it’s going to be a rejection. If I open and it’s not, HAPPY SURPRISE! That way I’m never disappointed. OK, I’m lying–sometimes I’m disappointed. There are stories I love that I think will be perfect for a market, and unfortunately, most of the time they disagree. But I rack up those Rs like it’s my job. In 2016, I had 3 sales and 182 rejections. That’s not great odds, right? So I just keep going.
In your opinion, how important is a writing degree or MFA when it comes to achieving success in writing fiction?
Since I’m self-taught, I would say not important at all. I would say that it’s important that you learn the way that works best for you and never stop learning. I was told throughout my school days that I had an aptitude for writing. I look back on the things I wrote four years ago, and I cringe. Aptitude does not mean mastery. I’ve learned so much, come so far, and I’m continuing to grow with every piece I write.
Do you participate in any online or in-person critique or writing groups?
I did a ton of online critique for writing partners I found on the Absolute Write Water Cooler online bulletin board. These days, I’m more focused on honing my craft than learning through critiquing, so I use other writers to catch mistakes that we’re all aware of. That is–rather than learning through critiquing, I’m doing a lot of practicing.
I’ve also moved on from AW to Codex, which is an online community of neo-pro writers and has entry criteria for getting in. I love it there because the drama is low, and everyone is working to better themselves writing-wise. Some of the other communities I’ve dabbled around have people in there that seem more interested in stirring up nonsense than actually writing. (Thankfully, with AW, the mods are usually on top of it, but they do attract a certain novice-level writer because they welcome everyone.)
Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
The first two books and a companion novel in my Fallen Redemption series are out now! The third is coming soon(tm). The series is about a guardian angel who gets swept up in a war between heaven and hell. It has historical events and romance, reincarnation and betrayal, evil demons and misguided ones. Check it out on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01J82JVNM Or you can visit my website and see more of my short stories here: http://www.saboviec.com