Monday, April 7, 2014

Are You Writer Material?

Many a glittering, yet innocent eye has gazed upon the lofty title of "author" or perhaps a newbie tongue has uttered those immortal words: I'm a writer.


Are they truly a writer or author?  Or are they hacks, wannabes, hobbyist or worse - frauds?

I was at a holiday party and met a gentleman who was quite loud, spouting his claim to the literary world as an author.  Me, the lowly wannabe writer approached him cautiously and in total awe.  He is an author! So over the next hour I listened to every word this god of words uttered, all the while hoping to learn the secrets of being an author.

Imagine my chagrin?!  He wasn't published.  In fact, he was still working on his wonderful manuscript, the Great American Novel, if you must.  During the hour I hung on each word, at one point he passed out a generic card and I grabbed one.  It had his name hand scribbled on it with a nicely printed address of a writing group.  He invited anyone to call to get more information and attend a meeting.

I called the next day.  Once more I was awe-struck when I was invited to attend the next meeting which was only three days away.  Again, another major disillusionment.  None of the group were published.  But I attended about 4 or 5 meetings, listening and learning before being ripped apart for a 6 page submission they took the time to edit.  The one hour plus drive home that night was very lonely.  I was not a writer.  I had no skills.  It was time to put away the rainbow dreams of being an author.  I'd like to say it was raining that night but it wasn't so my tears were very visible.

So, how can you decide if you are writer material?

1. Do you see yourself signing books, parties, tours and luncheons with publishers?
2. Can you sit in a room, all alone, with nothing to entertain yourself except your mind?
3. You have a great idea, what do you do?
4. Do you have one, two, four, several different book plots?
5. Where is the strangest place you've written?

If you answer yes to #1 - you may want to reconsider being an author.
If you answer yes to #2 - you have potential.
If, for #3, you didn't write down the idea immediately on anything available, move along.
The best answer for #4 is several or even more!
To answer #5 with my desk, table, or something similar - you may want to reconsider writing as a job.

I've written in an empty, dilapidated house, in the middle of a cemetery, on a bus, train, traffic jam, and even in the middle of a lake while fishing.  Those are the locations I am willing to admit to, there are stranger.

As I outlined a novel, I realized I could expand the story with a simple addition. The next thing I realized, I had a 4-book series outlined.  All of that from a simple idea about a possibly short story.  In fact, my co-author of the vampire series we're working on started with a silly conversation about big-breasted Amazon women in Brazil. We went from B-class movie ideas to a five star class act novel and a 5-book series.

If writing means fame and fortune.  Go find yourself a parade and enjoy your time there.  Authors in the 6-digit salary range are far and few between.  We hear about them the most but they are the biggest minority in the world.  For each author who sells one thousand copies of their book, there are ten thousand authors struggling to sell one hundred copies.  The days of being wined and dined by the big publishing companies are almost a myth anymore.  Days of large advance payments have also fallen to the side UNLESS you are a very big-named personality and you have a really good agent.

I've noted a lot of the obvious aspects of being a writer.  There is one secret so many writers... or rather wannabe writers can't handle.  Rejection.  Yes, we struggle over our baby, nurturing it to completion and then, in absolute fear, we don't allow anyone to see it for fear of rejection.  There are many different types of rejection.

Edits.  This form of rejection is seeing all the red marks and suggestions to your work which you can't believe is not perfect as submitted.
Submissions. A writer must learn to handle this aspect since it will happen repeatedly.  To have a piece returned as 'not what we are currently seeking' is a standard blurb and not a commentary about your work.
Critiques are a total stranger's idea of what s/he thinks about the story.  Again, this is not a personal attack on you, the author, or your work.

So, if you're new to the writing world - take a few moments to evaluate the truth of what you think writing is about.  In fact, if you're an old hack to the writing world, maybe you need to face facts and decide if you really want to write or just play with a hobby called writing.

Until next I ramble on...

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