Writing was, and is, my passion.
I worked at my fiction from the time I was twenty-five until I was thirty-one without ever making a dime, and never begrudged a minute of that time. While I was writing, I was happy. I was creating. I was learning to write better. I was finding my stories and my voice. I was discovering a life-long love.
When I was thirty-one, I sold my first novel, and experienced the realization that I was home.
In that moment, I knew my purpose in life.
I was born to write fiction, to create worlds and characters and stories—and every crazy, dangerous, scary, heartbreaking, and wonderful thing I’d done in my life had been building up to that moment when I could roll what I loved and desired, feared and hated, lived and remembered, into stories that people who shared my same passions and dreads could read.
More, I found my mission.
I knew I wanted to be able to help other writers know what it felt like to come home to their lives’ purpose, to get their fiction into print, to get paid to do what they loved in the world, to turn what had been an impossible dream into “This is my real life, every amazing day!”
I have a vision.
Mine is not a grand vision of a whole world changed by what I love. Mine is a little vision, but it’s mine.
- I want to live in a world where readers can buy stories they love directly from writers whose work they love, and who can directly, one-on-one, help those writers keep their careers alive, and keep writing the fiction they love, where the commercial publishing issues of sell-through or book-to-book increases cannot interfere with this human-to-human connection.Where the reader will always be able to ask her favorite writer, “Can you tell me a story?” And where the writer will be able to say, “Yes, I can.”
The potential for this world now exists, but it isn’t fully realized.
- I want to live in a world where writers can wake up every morning to write their fiction first, because that is what they’re being paid to do directly from the people who love what they do.
Where motivated, passionate writers can afford to feed themselves and their families, can afford to create better lives for themselves, because their readers happily buy their stories and ask for more.Where every writer who is willing to work hard to perfect his or her craft can connect with the people who value that writer enough to pay to read what he or she does…and who will recommend the writer to friends who share the same loves and passions, and who will love this writer, too.
The potential for this world exists, too—but too many writers don’t realize that what they love is within their reach, or know what they have to do to reach in.
This is a problem I have solved for myself and know how to teach other writers to solve.
- I want to live in a world where writers from anywhere in the world who want to write for a living can do so, regardless of previous education, regardless of pressures from family or society, and in doing so bring joy and laughter, comfort and courage, to the people who share their community, their understanding, their world view. And who can, by reading the works of these writers who share their world and lives, know that they are not alone.The Internet makes this world both reachable and creatable, and I am working right now to build my small part of it.
Since 1991, I’ve been feeling my way toward building my part of this world I want to live in.
I made mistakes along the way. I went in wrong directions, forgetting that every person who wants to live a better life has to work to do it, and has to be paid for that work—and that the only way any writer can fully realize his or her dream of writing full-time is to get paid for doing that.
I was the first person who jumped in front of the ‘do it for free’ bus I once recommended, and my family suffered for many years because of that.
When I realized that if writing was going to be my work, I had to work for money, I put together a little writing shop, and invited other writers to create work for readers and writers and publish it there—but while I did pretty well for a few years moving nonfiction for my writers, I couldn’t do anything for their fiction.
And keeping up with the expanding platform and the books on it turned out to be more than I could handle while still keeping my own writing career going.
I tried to create Rebel Tales as a way for writers to connect directly to their readers with serial fiction, and got my ass handed to me by a thief pretending to be an editor.
Both of these projects of mine were before Amazon and other online bookstores opened up their platforms to indie authors. Amazon and other platforms created much larger access for writers than I could ever offer. They are one of a number of pieces now in place that can allow me to expand my vision, my passion, my mission.
I have strengths and weaknesses that affect what I can do with this vision, this passion, this mission of mine.
- I know how to find the best people on the internet, both readers and writers. Some of them hang out here, and have for years. Some of them hang out in my old Forward Motion writing community, now owned and run by my friend Lazette Gifford. Some of them hang out in my new—well, newer—writing community on How To Think Sideways, which has been alive for about seven years now.
- I know how to show them how to change their dreams into their reality. What they love is what I love—and for the writers, what they want to do is the same thing I wanted to do. I did it without college, without funding, and without assistance from the government, and I know that to succeed, other writers don’t need those things either.
- And I know how to write good fiction, how to revise it, how to make it hang together so that readers want to read more.
Those are my strengths.
On to the weaknesses.
- I am only one person, and I’ve now used up more than half my life, no matter how optimistic I might choose to be about how long I can hope to live. My great-grandmother lived to be 103, and when I was twenty-four (and she was ninety-four) I looked at her and thought, “I need to be doing something that I can still do when I’m her age.”
That was the origin of my New Year’s Resolution to finish my first novel before I turned twenty-five.I made it, and I made it here, and as long as my mind stays sharp, I can do this until I die. And I intend to.
But in the last four years, I’ve had a brain tumor scare and a cancer scare. So far, the symptoms turned out, after expensive testing, to be from benign problems.
But one of these days, they won’t be. I can’t do everything. And I don’t have forever in which to build the world in which I want to live.
- In my HowToThinkSideways.com writing school, along with pros who are sharpening skills and intermediate writers who are close to breaking out, I have thousands of “baby writers.”
Many of these folks are going to become the great voices in fiction for the next fifty to seventy-five years. But right now they’re brand-new, and struggling to find readers.
- I want to help them find readers—but I need to help them find THEIR readers. I need to help them find the people who will love what they do, who will help them discover their voices, and who will, when they start publishing, find and buy their first stories, and their later stories.
People who will value them for their writing, will pay them to keep writing, will love what they do and spread the word to other readers who will ALSO love what they do.And I don’t KNOW their readers. But you do, or someone you know does, or has a cousin once removed on his mother’s side who’s uncle reads exactly what this person writes.
I want to recruit people who share my purpose, my passion, my mission…my vision.
I have some of my core people already.
My web developer, Dan Allen, understands what I’m doing and why. He knows this mission, and like me, he sees why it matters. He’s on board to build the infrastructure that will make it fly. And he’s in this for the long haul.
My amazing moderators know the mission, and in the forums every day, they are now—and have been for years—helping writers figure out new ways to use my writing courses. They help people adapt processes that I use myself into processes that work for brains wired far differently than mine. And as we move forward, they’ll be putting together writing challenges, and using new forum features to help writers make their fiction better.
Even while we’re on the crappy forums we’re stuck with until Dan finishes turning a battered, ancient database into a well-oiled machine, they’re on the boards every day. They are magnificent.
I’m still missing some core people.
I have two service providers who are also HowToThinkSideways students, and who created special offers for my writing members, so that they could get better prices on getting their books edited and formatted.
- I need more folks like these.
- And I need readers for my writers.
As part of my ongoing mission to create an online writing school that teaches writing dreamers how to become writing professionals, I’m adding a service for readers.
http://ReadersMeetWriters.com will introduce READERS WHO SHARE MY VISION to writers who are working to become professional writers, and who are trying to find their readers.
- These are readers who are dedicated to helping the writers who are going to become the great voices of fiction for the next fifty to seventy-five years,
- Who want to read good fiction and who are willing to support the careers of the people who it by buying their work…
- And by recommending their work to others…
- Who are willing to pitch in on crowdsourcing final manuscripts, for example, to make sure broke beginning writers are able to put out high-quality, non-buggy fiction even when they’re just getting started…
- Who are willing to help split test things like cover art and cover copy (basically, you’ll just go to pages linked from a Want To Test? page and click around, browsing what interests you and ignoring what doesn’t).
- Who are willing to get involved in helping the writers you’ll someday love BECOME those writers.
Dan and I will have to build this, and my moderators, and volunteer readers and writers, will have to test it.
As Dan and I work toward building a better online writing school, I’m going to ask you what you want, either as a reader or as a writer.
I’m going to use this site to talk to you about these things, and ask you to test various site features and let me know what you think about them. I’m going to ask for your opinions. I’m going to ask for you to help me find the people I need to make various parts of this vision of mine work.
I’m building this thing so it will outlive me. I want to know that writers will still have a place where they can learn what they need to know to build lives, feed their families, and reach their dreams doing what they love. And I want that place to still have some part of me in it. To go on doing what I love when I no longer can.
I don’t know how long this place can last.
I don’t know who else besides me this vision, this passion, this mission speaks to.
But if this matters to you, please tell me here. And tell me WHAT matters to you, and WHY.
The view from fifty-four is a wonderful view. It is watching my dreams made real in the world in the lives of writers who reach their own dreams.
Thank you for joining me for all these years in making this happen. Please help me make the vision clearer, the mission stronger, the passion more loved, more respected, and more cherished.
Join the Readers Meet Writers Brainstorming team and get Founder Benefits
(Link opens in a new tab/page so you won’t lose your comment)
Join the Readers Meet Writers Brainstorming team and get Founder Benefits
Please count me in!
Holly, I relate to so much of what you’ve written (above).
I’ve enjoyed – and learnt so much – from those writing courses I’ve taken on.
A request – I have a novel – the opening chapter is essential, but how to get it just right? The rest of the book works. Any suggestions?
There’s no way to guess how to make the first chapter work without reading the book—and I don’t have time to read and crit right now. Bring the chapter into the writing community and join a crit group (they’re free) and the folks in there will help you with your story while you help them with theirs.
Holly, why am I not surprised to see your amazing idea for bringing readers and writers together?
Since I was last active on your site, I’ve self-published four fantasy novels and I’m working on a fifth. I keep my notebooks on How to Think Sideways and How to Revise Your Novel nearby!
My most recent novel, Slitherskins, has a cover created for me by a Hallmark artist on commission. She has mentioned that she’d love to be able to do more of this kind of commission work for authors, so let me know if this is something that would be helpful for the new ReadersMeetWriters folks.
Happy Birthday, Holly! I’ve got six months on you (turned 54 in March), and I’m lucky enough to just now be settling in to writing professionally. We lived overseas for a few years and when we came home, I went back to college and finally finished the bachelor’s degree I started 37 years ago! English/Creative writing – I was writing already, so I may as well study what I’m going to keep doing. And somehow, besides crossing it off my bucket list, it has given me a lot of confidence. I’d been working on a middle-grade time travel off and on for years, with other stuff in between. I finally indie-published it this summer – hurray! And now that I’m almost home from travels, I get to put on my professional writer’s hat and figure out how to balance all the things in my life. Good stuff, and I’d love to be part of the Readers Meet Writers project – on both sides. I can read, critique, and support, but I’d also like to find MY readers, both for the MG now and women’s fiction later. Thanks for all you do!
Happy birthday Holly!!!
This is a great ideas. I’m new in the writing process but I be glad to help. I just sign it and I will do my best in this project.
All the best,
Dear Holly, first a very belated happy birthday! I had gone through crazy two weeks at work, which is why I’m only writing now, but I have read your post at the time and it stayed with me and nagged me not to forget about it, so I think this means something. I’m still in the “wannabe writer” category, but if I ever come out from the “wannabe” into the “actual” one, it will be thanks to you and your courses. I’m also an avid reader who, despite having two demanding jobs and a family, rarely manages to get through the day without reading at least a little; and I have discovered a love for reading and giving feedback on what I read – I’d say “editing” if it wasn’t that editing probably requires other skills I don’t have and knowledge I don’t posses. Regardless, I’d love to be a part of the place you describe. I think it could provide a sort of a “writer incubator”, and writers who had been nurtured in it would likely have a much better chance to reach an even wider readership. Please count me in.
Happy Birthday, fellow Libra. I’ve often thought there needs to be a site where writers who need beta readers can connect with readers who are willing to expore new writers. And here you are. Count me in!
Happy Birthday Holly Lisle!
In hexadecimal notation, you’re 36. 🙂
Happy Birthday, Holly!
Sounds like a great new initiative. Definitely something I’d like to be a part of. I’ve signed up for the email list and I’ll help as much as I can while I finally get my butt in gear and some stories published. (As well as some other exciting projects for early next year!)
When I was reading this post I felt almost at one with you, not for reasons you may expect but because we have been through very similar experiences. I so want to be part of the vision that you want to share with us all.
Please let me give you a brief history of me. I am 56 years old and have worked for a US aerospace company for the last 5 years. I hold a good position and travel all around the world with my work (I am writing this at breakfast in a hotel in Orléans, France). I enjoy the work sometimes but feel there is something missing in my life.
I worked for myself for 30 years prior to this so I have been on both sides of the employment chain.
Two years ago I actually found out I had bowl cancer and cutting a long story short I had an operation and am now clear of it. It certainly does focus your thoughts on what you are doing.
At this time I came across Geoff Shaw’s Kindling course which is great and all the folks on the Facebook group could not be more helpful, but I still have not written one word in anger. I know that I can write as this is part of my work partly as a technical writer. My head is always swimming with ideas and plots……BUT I just cannot settle on a genre to focus my writing on. I have not been an avid reader but have now started to read short stories to understand the “way in” from various writers and genres.
I really need to start writing in something that interests me and that I will want to get up in the morning and want to write. So far this has not happened and I need help.
Maybe you are the person to do this, maybe not but I love what you are doing with you website and have already connected to what I am reading and have already read.
I hope we can connect and take me through this barrier that seems to be in front of me.
Take care and Happy Birthday!
First, congrats on beating the cancer. Second, though I resist recommending my courses from this site, you might find my motivation course helpful. It’s created specifically for writers, is work-at-your-own-pace, and has moved quite a few writers from “I talk about writing,” to “I finished my first book and am starting into the next.” http://howtothinksideways.com/shop/how-to-motivate-yourself/
This sounds like an amazing idea. I am 100% onboard (as a writer and as a reader), and as always I’m in awe of the incredible HTTS system that Holly has built. You are proof, Holly, that one person can change the world–not through government edicts or spending billions of dollars, but simply by investing time in building a vision.
This is inspirational Holly. Not everybody thinks of their legacy in such generous terms. Happy birthday and may you live to 120! (Maybe one of your space vampires can help you out with that…)
No… No… That would be baaaaad! 😀
Happy Birthday, Holly! And may you have many more years of following you dream.
I comtinue to be amazed at your ability to pinpoint the important aspects of writing and you patience with teaching others. I initially began following you to see what a good friend, who hs dreamed of being a writer “someday” began taking one of your classes – and her writing suddenly gained direction. Bravo, to you and your love of the written word.
Thank you, Jeanne. And I’m delighted your friend is making progress toward taking her dream live.
Happy Birthday Holly:
I’ve been a fan of yours for over 10 years. I have been writing book reviews of all genres of books for 4 years now. If you are looking for someone to be a first reader for authors your helping or for yourself I would be happy to volunteer.
I read constantly and consider reading my passion. I’ve been first reader for a few different authors and I am first reader on a writer’s group. I’m always nice to new authors and always look for something positive to say. I also like to think I’m a decent proof reader.
I would be willing to help you out if you need a first reader or someone to help promote authors work.
Hi, David. Writers on the site are definitely going to be looking for readers, reviewers, proofreaders, and more. 😀
This is such a great idea. I sometimes read self-published fiction and wish that the author had a resource like this. I am not driven to write as I once was, but reading is always a passion, and helping authors write what I want to read sounds perfect!
Happy belated birthday, Holly. I wish you peace and a corner of warmth to curl up in with a mug of your favorite tea and your favorite book — perhaps even one a student wrote.
When I was 17, I realized books could touch people, make us feel — laugh and cry, hope and reach for Something Higher even as we’re surrounded by a society that tries hard to numb us and keep us doing what “they” want us to do. I decided then that I wanted to write stories that touch people.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to prevent society’s fear-filled edict of, “You’re so naive. Don’t you know that you must earn money in a conventional boring job or YOU WILL DIE?” from shouting down my dream. So I spent years chained by fear to the corporate world. It paid my bills but very nearly broken my heart. In the middle of the ongoing recession, it threw me away. While this is terrifying, it’s also proven a great opportunity to claw back my dreams.
Along the way, I’ve learned that it’s not much fun creating alone in a vacuum. We creatives need not only the support of other creatives; we need to be fans of one another. Just to hear something like, “This is so neat, is there more?” can give me enough faith in myself to keep going, and I know it can do that for others.
Visual artists have shared studios and co-ops; I visit them and feel out of place because I’m not a visual artist, and I wonder…why don’t writers have these informal, artsy spaces to share in?
Sure, there are local writers groups we can join, or writing classes you can take, and NaNoWriMo has local gatherings, but feedback from them can be abusive as much as it’s useful…so I really want to be part of what you’re creating, Holly.
What matters to me? I’d like to help people build the life they dream of, the life they want, so they don’t abandon who they are as well as their dreams. So they don’t go sabotage themselves and get trapped in the “real” world.
I’ve got every course you offer, and as I worked through your lessons on “This is what it takes to self-publish a book once you’ve written it,” I realized that in the course of my nasty corporate life, I’ve accumulated every design skill useful to writers when they want to produce an ebook or printed book. So how ironic is it that I’m a graphic designer who says, “Sure I can do that” when it comes to designing covers or interiors and making someone else look good, but when it comes to writing, I cringe and say, “I hope someone will want to read what I write.”
What do I want? I want a place that will help all of us do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipe14_yCL_g
This sounds like a great project. Something I would like to be involved in.
Happy Bithday! Count me in on your amazing vision. I’ve been writing on and off for years and this year I am trying NaNoWriMo for the first time. I’ve been following you for a while and even bought a course once.
Looking toward the future and like you, toward creating something lasting.
Your awesomeness is spilling over into uber-awesomeness. You seem to be setting up all the targets for me at just the right time.
– birthday gifts? – ker-pow!
– HTTS lesson 28? Ping! just the stuff I needed at just the right time!
– and now this!? Somewhere I can engage with other writers and other readers? – ding!ding!ding!
and I get to be involved in the embryonic stages? woohoo!
Apologies if I’m sounding like a labrador puppy, but I would be honoured to be involved in this. your courses are so useful and you have the knack of providing the structure to not only create but also what to do with things afterwards too. thank you, (and by the way the mods are awesome too – thanks guys!)
What a great idea. I have written stories since before I even started school and have always believed that dreams are meant to be lived.
I add my good wishes to the many already here. I would be interested in checking out the website, probably more as a reader than a writer, though. Let me know how I can help.
Happy Birthday, Holly! Yes, I love your vision, and just signed up.
Happy birthday. What a fantastic idea. As a baby writer living in South Africa something like this can really help getting my future work out to a larger platform. Thank you for always being willing to help out others. Count me in. I will help in any way I can.
Happy Birthday! You have such lovely dreams. I will do what I can to help.
As a reader, books have been my friends and companions and light into other places, perspectives and fun, since I was a child. I am a voracious reader. Reading has made a huge difference in my life and I am grateful to those authors who share the stories that I enjoy. It is one of the reasons I want to write is because I love to read. I have supported authors in my own way all of my reading life and went back for more, so helping is also helping me as a reader. I like seeing their success.
Another reason I want to write is because I want to give back to others what I have enjoy through reading my favorite authors. They have help me through the rough spots, inspired, made smile and taught me things, as well giving a different perspective of times on life in general.
I have learned so much since discovering your courses. You have changed my writing life, in ways that I had not even thought about. You gave me hope that I could do more. You gave me courage to try to do more. I have taken many writing courses over the years, since I was 18 years old. I am now 50. That is a lot of courses, when I look back at them. I do not regret them, because I learned and they brought to a certain point in my life, when I found your courses. Since finding you I have started a website. I have put short stories for others to read. I have actually submitted for inclusion in anthologies and I am thinking about writing for contest too, while I work on my novel. The glimpse into to your writing life with such details has shown me that it is possible. That is the one thing you give that I do not find in other courses. You share your very personal writing life with your students and it has changed me. It is like being on the inside and watching the The Writer work in private to some degree.
Since starting my website I have hosted other authors, which I have found very rewarding for me and for them. I like seeing them succeed and make headway. I like being part of that. I have been told by others they find my inspiring. I am grateful for that, because that is actual a goal in my life in everything to inspire and encourage others to success and happiness.
I am a baby writer. I am impatient to be more. Like you, because of my age and other concerns, at times I feel time is short and I need to move faster. I need to get better. I need to move past my issues and as I learn to do that, I enjoy sharing how I do it. I enjoy learning things and sharing them and watching others take it that step further too.
I am still working out my mission, but what you describe is something I know I would enjoy being part of, so whatever I can do to help your mission will be rewarding to me. I do not know how much I have to contribute, but I know I have MUCH to learn. So, count me in to do what is needed, as I am able and to my ability. I will try to do my part, whatever that might be.
Yes I want to be one those professional authors of the future and the here and now. I will always and always have been that reader, so the more I can do the better.
Happy Birthday Holly. I hope you had a great one!
This sounds fantastic! I just signed up 🙂
It matters. My whole life is reading and writing. It always has been.
I’ve known since elementary school that I was born to write– that one day I’d be a published writer. But “one day” loomed far ahead in some indistinct future. There was plenty of time.
There’s something about hitting the big 5-0 that makes you realize that there is no longer plenty of time. And I’m six years and two cancer scares of my own past that.
I never gave up on the dream—I’ve just devoted my life to postponing it. What happens to a dream deferred? We all know. It’s not pretty.
The deferring stopped a few years ago, but the actual *achieving* is still barely more than a glimmer in the distance. Your courses have already helped me inch closer and closer to actually achieving my dream, and the news of your plans for this new site is like a big shiny beacon in the night. I just LOVE this idea.
You asked WHY it matters. I think the “why” is that this site means “One day” is NOW. I’m totally in.
Oh, and happy birthday! I hope it was wonderful!
This sounds interesting. I’m currently learning about both writing and editing, and I enjoy helping people with creative projects. I’ll give this a try.
Hi Holly – Happy Birthday!
Yet again you are both generous and brilliant. I’m enrolled in some of your courses but as a reader I’m always looking for interesting and good authors. Many thanks for your vision and your mission.
Happy birthday, Holly!
I love your vision! It is fantastic and will help so many people.
I’ve been greatly helped by your courses, incl. HTRYN, the PDFs of HTTS, most of your short courses, and now HTWAS. You’ve been a real inspiration to me, not only with the great variety of interesting and helpful techniques but by helping me to realize that writing can be fun.
I don’t know how much help I can be as a reader. I don’t spend much on books (because I don’t have the money), but I can help comment on other writers’ work and maybe bring in some readers.
I can certainly use help as a writer. What about the idea of also including people who can help with researching difficult things? I could certainly use that kind of help as well as help with all things publishing and marketing. I’m overwhelmed right now with the idea of finding research to help with my 1st century novel and figuring out how I could best start a platform to reach middle grade readers and their parents when I am such a hermit I’m scared of the whole idea of personally writing a blog. (Yes,I know that sentence is too long and deserves better editing.)
You have given me hope that I can do it somehow. I’m more than 10 years older than you, but I’m in good health and, if I take care of my brain (like exercising it with writing), I might actually have another 20 years to finish my series.
Happy birthday, Holly!
ReadersMeetWriters is an amazing vision and appeals to me as both reader and writer. I’ve signed up and look forward to blazing new trails with the community. 🙂
Wishing you all the very best for the year to come.
Happy Birthday Holly 8D This is incredible, really. My respect for you has gone up on the scale again. I’m humbled by your willingness to help others with their struggles, to dedicate so much of your time to it. As a baby writer, I admit the real, big world of writing is scary, and I don’t have anyone to share my doubts and my fears. No family, friends or boyfriend understands what I’m going through. My boyfriend barely reads what I write, and sometimes I think he does it just to cheer me on, and not because it’s really interesting. So having someone genuinely interested in what I write, and interested in helping me out with it would be amazing. Count me in :} (question: can we be writers and readers at the same time?)
Happy Birthday, Holly! I want to live in that world too! If you need any input from someone who has run a successful Kickstarter campaign (just closed on Wednesday the 8th with $4811 raised (goal of $4500)) I would be happy to contribute what I’ve learned through running this campaign. I’m an HTRYN grad and the novel I’m releasing in December (the one I ran the Kickstarter for) is going through an adapted version of the course. I’m also taking HTWAS and my next project will be the series that I create for that class. I used Createspace to release a collection of short stories back in July with absolutely zero budget, and will be using Createspace again for this full length novel, but this time with professional cover art/design, professional copyediting, professional formatting, and a tiny bit of a marketing/publicity budget. I’d be happy to share all the things I learn as I go along if anyone is interested.
I sincerely hope that you’re able to make this dream world into a reality and I’d be happy to help out along the way. Let me know what you need! 🙂
This is seriously cool.
Let me think about how I could make the best use of what you know. Thank you. 😀
Sure! Take your time. October is going to be insane for me anyway. I’ve given myself a crazy timetable for this revision. Things should be much better in November. 🙂