It’s true. If you have even the slightest tendency toward being a wuss, sissy, or scaredy pants, you might as well stick to writing for yourself, family, and friends who really love you. Just don’t venture into publishing.
Writing is the easy part. You can attend workshops, read how-to books, pester the family and friends who don’t run when you approach them with a manuscript in hand and basically write to your heart’s content. It’s when those voices (said family, friends and characters inside your head) start talking and telling you that you could be the next (insert name: ie - Nora, Stephen King, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Anne McCaffery, etc,) that you start treading the very fine line of reality and fantasy. Scratch fantasy, insert insanity.
All writers have at least one defective personality part. For the most part, thick skin too. And a tendency to be hard of hearing when critics are not saying anything nice. If they didn’t, they’d stop writing, probably right before that one book that sends them to the NYTimes Bestsellers List.
They also tend to wander around muttering to themselves a lot. Depends on where they are in their cycle of psychosis but you may hear things like, “you really want to do that? I mean, sheesh, doesn’t fit in with the plot I wrote for you” or “I swear I’ll never write another sentence as long as I live!” or “No! I do not want you swinging off the top of the house, you’ll break your leg, you just wait, make me write the scene that way and you will end up in the hospital” or “There, I told you it wouldn’t work out, but no, Mr. Big-shot-hero man just had to do it his way and now I can’t write you out of that corner. So whatcha gonna do this time, eh?” See what I mean? Understanding spouses tend to shake their heads and tsk with sympathy. Kids roll their eyes. Neighbors make sure their children play across town.
Okay, so that doesn’t faze you. Fine. You just go ahead and try writing. And you’ll produce a novel or novella and think it will be the next big seller and by this time next year you’ll be on easy street spending all that lovely royalty money. Uh huh. The reality is, you’d better absolutely LOVE what you’re doing, and be madly, head over heels, twitterpated for your characters, because your enthusiasm might get someone to look at your precious manuscript. And it is precious. I don’t mean that sarcastically at all. Each and every manuscript had better be the sunshine of your heart or you will find it hard to go on when someone sends it back to you with an unkind note. Your darling may have a few defects.
Thankfully, with writing, they can be fixed. This is where your pride takes its first pounding. If you’re not strong enough to hear your baby is deformed, then writing isn’t for you. Can you be big enough to take constructive criticism? Some agents/editors will take the time to tell you where your manuscript is deficient. You may not agree, you may not understand, but those rejections are the kindest ones you will receive. If they didn’t care one bit, they wouldn’t tell you how to fix it. So no matter how it hurts, buck up, suck it up, and read their suggestions carefully then do your best to look at your manuscript objectively. Then fix it and submit it again. Most likely to another house unless you’ve been invited to send it back.
And when you are accepted? Will the bucks start rolling in then? Sorry, not quite yet. The truth is, if you’re writing for money and fame, then you’re writing for the wrong reasons. Write for the love of writing, for the pleasure of telling a story well. If you write well enough, and make a promotional effort in the right areas, at the right time, you might end up earning $.10 for every hour spent editing. Not writing, you’ll most likely never earn enough to cover that time, but if you keep at it long enough and work hard enough, in five to ten years you might earn as much as you do in your day job. Yup. The cold hard facts.
So do it for love. Do it for personal satisfaction. And keep that little wild hair handy to tickle your butt back into that chair and write to the voices in your head. You’ll make friends, experience camaraderie and learn a few life lessons along the way. Most of all, and here’s the really fun part, you’ll take on some of the traits of your characters and drive your family nuts. Yeah, it’s worth it.
Morgan Q. O'Reilly
Get Some Tonight
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