…or even better, “The nearly uninteresting life of an aspiring author.” But let’s be honest – that title is a bit to contemptuous even for my liking.
So, you’re an aspiring writer. You woke up one morning (or afternoon, or evening – I won’t presume to know your sleeping schedule or lack there of) and you decided you want to write. No! You decided you want to be an author! Ah, yes! The glory of the written word. The world will now know every secretly hidden gem you have held so closely to your chest it burns a light so bright it can be seen for miles and miles.
You sit down at your computer (because while paper is fun, typewriters are antiquated – lets face it – the world is digital) and you pour out your soul. There are laughs!!! There are tears… There are epic moments!…!…!
You type the words “The End” and nod proudly at the blinking cursor (as you compulsively save the manuscript 100x) – you, my friend, are D-O-N-E! Boom!
BRING ON THE LITERARY AGENTS!
BRING ON THE 3 BOOK DEAL PUBLISHING CONTRACTS!!
AND BRING ON THE SWEET MOVIE FRANCHISE DEAL!!!
(Everyone wants a movie deal these days. It’s insane. I mean, if you want a movie deal so badly why not just write a movie script? Just an observation…)
But alas, that is not the truth of the writers journey. It is a myth brought on by a combo of believing everything you see in movies and just plain lies. So I would like to give you a list of truths. And why do I want to give you this list? To be honest I don’t want you to quit.
I’ve been writing for eons. In the past year alone I’ve written two books and I am currently working on a new one.
Are these books published? No.
Do I have an agent? Not yet.
Will I self-publish? Probably not.
Will I keep writing? Yes.
YOUR TRUTHS ABOUT WRITING:
- If by this point you haven’t heard the Stephen King writing quote on how to become a better writer, here it is: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” I know, he has several other quotes – people LOVE the kill all your darlings one – but this is my personal favorite. Writing is hard work. There is no book out there that just popped out of someone’s brain polished and ready to be published. (If you don’t believe me pick up the On the Road: Original Scroll and prepare yourself for utter boredom.)
- Your “1st” Draft. This is one of those things that boggles my mind. It is called a “1st” draft – the title alone would imply there are more than one of them. As stated above – writing is hard work. Can you do it? Yes. Will you? That’s up to you. Go, hide, write your first draft. Look at it like the bones of a skeleton and when you go back add all the meaty parts that make it a body. Don’t be afraid of this. DON’T assume someone else out there will do it for you. It’s your book. It’s your job. YOURS and yours alone.
- Thomas Edison said “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” So it writing.
- That Literary Agent you love and want to rep you – well they may or they may not – but you’ll never know unless you send off your query letter. So SEND OFF YOUR QUERY LETTER! Do it! Right now. Stop with the excuses.
- There will always be something else. There will always be your day job. You will always be tired. Your children will take up your time. Your friends will be in the way. You will need to wash your laundry (Please wash your laundry. And guys, wash the sheets.) THERE IS NO GOOD TIME TO START WRITINGS. I will say it again: THERE IS NO GOOD TIME TO START WRITING! So you may as well start right now.
- People keep telling you to write what you know – which is fine. I mean, for me that means I will write stories about being a yoga teacher stay at home mom who is vegan. NEW YORK TIME BEST SELLERS LIST, I’M COMING FOR YA! (not). Back to #1 – read and write about things that inspire you. You love The Game of Thrones and want to write the next epic fantasy novel! Go read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. Why? Because the characters are amazing and you can use what you learn there it give a different perspective in your warring world. Want to be the next YA Fiction God/ess? Read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Hienlein – because his use of dialect is a game changer. Expand your horizons and don’t be afraid to thing about thing you may not know. We live in the information age. Google it. Look up someone who has the info you want and email them, give them a call, ask questions. If you’re a woman and want to know how a man would react to a certain situation – ask them. Ask questions. Watch documentaries. Get the hell outside your comfort zone.
- Okay – so you already know all of that stuff, now what. The biggest thing about being an aspiring writer is not giving up on yourself. Yes, you’re going to receive rejection letters. Some will be the fun, “It’s not you, it’s me” break up style letters that leave you feeling empty and raw. This is where the ice cream sandwiches come into play. Don’t give up, but take a second to treat yourself and tell yourself it’s okay, because let’s face it. You’ve tired and that’s a lot more than some have done.
- This is my final one – pen caps. On this journey you will meet an assortment of people. You’ll meet the ones who tell you to keep going and you’ll meet the ones that tell you to quit. Take the pen cap and shove it up their nose (metaphorically of course). Believe in yourself. Be open to criticism, use it to make yourself a better writer. We all have hang-ups. ALL OF US.
Writing is hard, but it’s worth it. Don’t be afraid of hard work, and don’t try to cut corners. But most of all, don’t give up on yourself. If you want to write and become an author – the only thing standing between you and that goal is yourself. Get out of your own way and go write.