I’ve been asked a few questions on how to write, or what it’s like to be a writer, so I intend to includ the occasional post in an attempt to answer the impossible. Just like marketing, what applies to one person, won’t be relevant to another, though some things are common to all. So for a first ‘you want to be a writer’ blog…
Don’t. Go and do something else. Anything else. Go and do something less soul-destroying.
Still here? Good.
That’s 50% of the battle won. Now I’m going to contradict myself and
say if you want to write, if you possess any ability, it’s one of the
most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Also, one of the hardest.
Writing is WORK. Anyone ever tells you a different story doesn’t know
what he or she is talking about. The task should be, and is, fun.
Equally, it’s a job.
Publishing is a chore, and may influence the decision to continue as a
hobby writer or to try for publication. The option of self-publishing
exists these days, and there can be reasons for careful consideration,
but that’s a separate subject. Hardly anything worthwhile in life is
easy, and even when published, the hard work never ceases, doesn’t get
any easier. No one throws rose petals at your feet. In the decade of the
internet troll, you’re more likely to find manure tossed into your
path. I’m not joking. Go read a few reviews of classic well-loved books
and soak up the vitriol. No matter how successful, or good someone may
be in any field, unwarranted abuse is guaranteed.
Some may be reading with a frown, images of Diane Keaton sitting in
front of a large desk, a panoramic view of the beach through the window
dancing in their heads (trust me, Something’s Gotta Give may
have been a good film, but it did nothing to give a realistic outlook of
what it is to be a writer). Some reading this blog will be thinking of
J.K. and a certain wizard, the author sweeping down a red carpet at a
London première of a blockbuster made from one of her publications. This
kind of success ‘can’ occur, but ask any novelist if life started out
that way and they’ll tell you a very different story. King remembers
deciding whether to buy medicine for his child or to pay the telephone
bill. He rightly chose the medication. Many authors understand poverty —
poverty may have even been one of the things to push them, kept them
going when refusal and harsh words made them wonder why they were
putting themselves through the suffering.
That’s the problem with writing: heartache is involved. Rejection.
Edits. Reviews. A writer runs the gamut of emotions at every level, and
even when they achieve a flourishing career, the despondency doesn’t
cease unless one learns how to cope. Maybe not even then. Writers are
risk-takers. They risk rejection every day.
Hearing all this, you may well ask if writing is worth the time and
effort, or a mug’s game. It depends on opinion but, alas, some
restrictions to the industry bode ill and creates angst for novelists,
editors, publishers, and agents alike, most of which the majority of
readers remain unaware. First-time writers often learn the hard way.
If you have ever heard someone of an older generation say, ‘If only I
knew back then what I know now’ you will recognise the true meaning of
the adage after writing for a few months, when ready to submit.
To simplify: if this is only a passing fancy, you don’t adore books,
and you aren’t one of those who understand that writers write because
they ‘have to’ rather than want to, I advise to go find a less
distressing occupation. If you’re someone who cannot envision a life
without writing, then jump right in with the rest of the wonderful crazy
authors who create magical worlds, entertain us, and make us question
life by turns. It’s good to be here.