The arts have been part of my life all my life. My career began in ballet. By the time I retired in 2010, I had moved through the ranks from dancer to award-winning choreographer. One of the biggest lessons I learned: it does not matter how talented you are or how good you are. Succeeding—even with a top-notch team—is about timing, being at the right place at the right time and knowing, once the door opens, the right moment to walk through.
Waiting for that “right moment” works for me because I know from experience that it spells success. My team continues to work on that aspect; and by the time it happens, I’ll have a body of work to hold up and be proud of. Meanwhile, like choreography and digital art, writing feeds my creative soul. It is my drug of choice. I write because I must…because I love it. The characters who dance in my head beg to be seen and heard; their stories demand to be told. My words give them dimension and voice. (Above on the left is the Wood Tiffet Sabine – a graphic created to open a chapter.)
Finding the tools that keep me focused, vital, and creative is a must. First comes a place conducive to creativity. I need a quiet, uncluttered environment. For me, this is a boat anchored in a small cove outside Sitka, Alaska. Within its peaceful confines, I can disappear into another world for as long my characters hold me there.
Writing tools are also a must. The fewer distractions the better to keep me focused and engaged. I use a MacBook with a writing application called iA Writer. Simple, straightforward, easy to use, and with no bells and whistles, it serves for writing and nothing else. A second desktop on my computer functions as my author’s desktop—no e-mail, no Facebook. I can access the Internet for research, and that’s it.
Ongoing inspiration helps me stay on task. The most tedious part of my process is the interior layout of the book. This takes time away from writing. To keep my interest alive and my creative juices flowing, I write the companion short stories while designing the interior. Twenty-five to thirty pages in length, these stories add depth to the main books and help me, as well as my readers, to better understand my world and my characters. They also keep me in the “writing place” so I don’t lose the edge gained by writing every day. (Above on the right is the raven Karrew – much more than he seems. Each book brings him closer to himself.)
Finally, I learned years ago never to give up on myself, my talent, or my dream. It would be easy to look at early sales and quit—to decide I’m not good enough so why bother. But as I mentioned in Part 1, I’m in this for the long haul.
Bottom line: being in control of my art and captain of my team works for me. I love wearing the hats that fit my talents and changing the guard to address those areas where I fall short. That rejection letter—the one with the challenge mentioned in Part 1— has proven to be an undisguised blessing. Will I ever be “discovered” by the masses? All it takes is one reader who loves what he/she's reading to bring my worlds and characters to life, one reader who spreads the word about the magic of The Unfolding Trilogy and companion short stories. This is the key to open the door to success at just the right moment for me to walk through.
We’re all different. What kind of writing environment and tools work for you? How do you stay focused? What inspires you to keep writing and not give up when it seems that you will never see your book in print or earn any money to validate the hours, months, or years you labored to produce it? What does success mean to you?
S.K. Randolph grew up in Bermuda. Her artist mother encouraged her to try painting, but Sharon chose to channel her creative talents into ballet. Her dance career spanned forty years and took her all the way from performer to award-winning choreographer. After two decades as Director of Dance at Interlochen Center for the Arts in northern Michigan and then at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, she retired in 2010 to write and to create digital art. To find her books, The DiMensioner's Revenge, The ConDra's Fire, and companion short stories that accompany them, and to learn more about her work, visit SKRandolph.com or Facebook.com/s.k.randolph11.