On the side, I did some in-home cooking instruction. I coupled that with my experience cooking with my hubby's Chinese family and my weight loss counseling expertise, pitched myself, and was paid for my food thoughts and recipes. A dollar a word seemed like a lot of money for something that was sheer pleasure.
The cookbook set aside again, I started a suspense novel that involves food and Asian themes, then I tossed in an amateur sleuth who is a cooking instructor. Somewhere in the middle of all this I started a horror novel that instead became an award-winning screenplay that didn't sell, the same fate of eleven of my subsequent award-wining screenplays. But the experience improved my fiction, and my sample scripts ended up catching the attention of a producer which landed me a connection and job with an indie director and later script doctor work.
My life seems to have the theme of: OK start another book but do something else at the same time.
I continued to edit for others, becoming a script and book doctor. I continued to teach writing. In fits and starts I wrote for newspapers and magazines and blogs. The exposure got me writer-for-hire gigs and allowed me to coach and midwife successful books for other writers.
Another agent took on the cookbook, she brought a contract to me, I signed and the photographer backed out at the last minute. The cookbook went on hold again. From the time I started writing to today, I’ve had poems, shorts, essays and flash pieces accepted and published, both in paper and on line. These were the little things that continued to feed my confidence that I would eventually sell a longer work and be able to do one of those fun key note speeches about my “overnight success.”
Last year, a client referred me for a celebrity ghostwriting gig that some would feel was the writing job of a lifetime. It might have allowed my husband to retire, but it ended up getting sabotaged and thrown into a tailspin.
In true lemons-to-lemonade style, I don’t discount all the benefits I got along the way from those efforts. I am proof that success can follow on the hooves of failure, IF you parlay the experiences. Looking back on it, all my writing detours led to something good. If nothing else they gave me a theme for the column I write for BTS Book Reviews, appropriately name “Karen’s Writing Detours.”