Joe’s Post #103
After reading Silk’s amazing post about what it takes to be a writer, it got me thinking and when I getz me a-thinkin’, I wanna write about it. Actually, I want to write about it more than I want to talk about it, but that just might be the introvert in me turtling in my little cave.
So, ok, yeah, what makes a writer a writer?
It’s that simple. Writers write. Because it’s important that they do.
They probably write a lot, but I’m not sure that’s even necessary. I mean, what’s a lot? Stephen King writes a book a week, I think. GRR Martin writes a book every 10 years or so. Ok, I exaggerate a bit, but you get my point. They’re both writers, yes?
But here’s what gets in my head. Here’s what gets in a lot of writers’ heads. Here’s what you hear a lot.
Have you been published? Have you got a book someone could read?
It seems that THAT is what makes a writer.
Sure, that’s a bit harsh, but not unfair.
However, if that’s why we write (to get published), then we are in for a certain amount of heartbreak. It’s hard to get published (and I’m talking books here), with the mainstream publishing houses. Hey, they want to make gobs of money and why in the world would they want to risk a ton of promotional dough on a newbie who’s writing about angels and dwarves and a one-eyed heroine?
I get that.
But there are other options for getting published. The e-publishing business is taking off like mad. However, with several writing friends taking that route, let me tell you (and this may not be a surprise), but getting people, a lot of people, to buy and read your e-book isn’t easy.
Silk’s right, both avenues take a LOT of work.
They don’t tell you this at the writing conferences. It’s the dirty little secret.
But does that hard work make us writers? It may make us SUCCESSFUL writers, but if we write, we’re writers. It’s that simple.
Let me take you back a few weeks. I had the honor of going to a company BBQ with the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world. We listened to the Beach Boys (who looked tragically old) and we even won a nifty prize, but I have to confess, I hate these types of events.
Because sometimes conversations go like this: “So, hey, I hear you’re a writer.”
Me: *gulp* “Errr, I guess, kinda, yeah,”
“A writer, eh? Where can I get one of your books?”
“I haven’t been published.”
“No?” They give me a look like I’m an actor who never gets an acting gig. “So what book are you writing?”
“Currently, I’m writing a thriller mystery about a Vancouver policeman who has to stop a serial killer who…”
“Is that all you do? You know, writing?”
“I also eat donuts.”
“Right. So no job?”
“They don’t pay me to eat donuts, no.”
“So, like, you don’t work.”
“Oh, wait, there’s someone I… uhm… bye.”
And that’s the concept that eats away at us writers. The idea that it’s not work or a career or a viable life choice. Money-wise, it might not be. Let’s be honest here. Money-wise, it’s gonna take a LOT of work.
But being a writer, answering the question of what makes a writer goes back to a simple thing. Writers write. Sure life throws us some curveballs, sure, there are times when you need to take a break, sure there are moments you doubt that you should even be attempting this madness, but if you write, a blog, short stories, articles for magazines or newspapers, novels, even creative letters to penthouse, you’re a writer.
It’s ok to be a struggling writer. It’s ok to not have anything published. It’s ok to just write.
As a successful writing friend of mine, Karen Abrahamson, said, “I write for myself.”
Isn’t that what Dickens was trying to say, the wordy bastard that he was?