Getting into writing – an interview with Martin McConnell

Martin McConnell writer

First off, if you would briefly introduce yourself.

Well, I’m in my thirties now, and have more hobbies than time, especially when I spend most of my time writing. I have a couple of content clients, so that’s how I make my money, and combined with reducing costs, I can now write for a very basic living. I’m also into all things science related.

What got you interested in writing/publishing?

I’ve been writing things since I was a kid, never too serious about it, and also had a fascination with art, particularly drawing. While working on web-comics I got the idea to do a full graphic novel. Complications with my job forced the idea to write it as a regular novel instead. I failed miserably to get it published, but I had finished a full-length story. I decided it was time to get serious about writing.

The biggest motivation after that was taking the plunge. I sold my house, quit my job, and disappeared into the woods on my little plot of land to start building a homestead and write. I spend about half my time out there and the other half with friends and family. I see my writing career and my future farm as two sides of the same personal progression, one physical and the other intellectual.

Of course, I don’t recommend that course unless you have a high tolerance for pain. Since giving up normal life, I’ve gone through a bout of cancer treatment and Lyme disease. Can’t wait to see what ailment I catch next year, hopefully not leprosy, lol.

What are your happiest memories in your writing career?

I think my favorite is my first $1000 check from a client. I had been working hard on a project, and after getting my feet wet, I half expected for him to disappear after submitting the work, but my phone pinged five minutes after I sent it off, and there was money in my PayPal account. I nearly spilled my coffee and immediately felt my first glint of hope for a real writing career.

How  do you handle success and failure?

Well, my failures outnumber my successes by far. I guess I handle both the same. There aren’t a lot of people around who can relate in real life, so I try to calm the emotions, good or bad, by going out with myself to relax and take it all in. Most writers are reclusive while they’re writing. I turn into a hermit after I get some good or bad news and don’t want to blab about it on social media.

I used to keep a strong drink ready before reading rejection letters, but I’ve become so accustomed to them, that now I’ll get another submission ready before I open them up. That way all I had to do is hit the ‘send’ button if things don’t turn out well. It’s actually harder to keep my excitement in check over good things. But I try to act natural.

What is your advice to young and new writers?

Write as much as you can, as often as you can. Novels, nonfiction essays, poems, flash fiction, blogs, everything. And read my e-book – “Finish the Damn Book!” The first seven chapters are available for free at my “secret” page on my website. If you like it, you can get the whole e-book or audible, which includes helpful post-draft advice.

In addition, you need to be reading other authors. I highly recommend ignoring the bestseller list and beta reading. In addition to making friends who will happily return the favor later on, you can see directly what’s working for them and what isn’t. Every time I read someone else’s early work, I learn something new. Either a clever trick they use with their words, or something that I need to remove from my own work.

You can also read helpful blogs to brush up on grammar stuff that you may have forgotten or never learned. I wasn’t very good at English till I started writing novels. I was a science nerd in my younger years, and studied Physics and Math in college. So, if you have any reservations about your “writing credentials,” drop those thoughts like a bad habit. All you need to do is a whole lot of writing, a whole lot of reading, and Google things that you aren’t sure about.


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