Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day I share something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life. Today I’m in the authors’ labyrinth (which is totally crazy with imaginary vampires, murderers, elves, mermaids, robots, overly gorgeous love interests, etc. popping out at every turn).
It didn’t take long after I entered the writer community to start hearing statements like “You’re Not a Real Writer unless…” followed by something all writers presumably must do to be taken seriously or succeed in this business. At first, I soaked all of that up. I needed to know how to be a real writer, so any wisdom thrown at me, I sucked up like a dog lapping a melted Popsicle off the sidewalk.
But just like that sidewalk Popsicle, I’ve come to believe those on-high pronouncements are a little tainted. Here are a few:
You’re not a real writer unless you write every single day. So tell me what other profession (besides training for the Olympics or being president of a country) must one do every single day. Do we really believe that our writing skills will atrophy in a day?
I take a Sabbath (Christian version…Sunday). I “check in with the office,” but I don’t do any big writing. And I don’t have problems getting back into my story. In fact, the little breather is good for me and for my family. Without writing every single day, I have written four book drafts and edited through two of those.
You’re not a real writer unless you must write. By this, one means that you need writing like one needs oxygen. That you can’t imagine your life without it. That if you were trapped in a cave for 30 days, you’d figure out how to rub stones together to create light and then etch a novel’s first draft on the walls with sharpened flint.
Guess what? Some writers love writing, but if they absolutely, for some unknown reason, could not do it anymore, they would manage to lead fulfilling lives doing other things. They might channel their creative energy into other pursuits. Or they might continue to make up stories for themselves or the children they tuck into bed. They prefer writing, but they could go without.
I don’t think the level of your burning desire is nearly as important as what you produce. Some writers who feel that they “can’t not write” may never finish a book. They write and write and write because they can’t imagine another existence, but they don’t produce books. Others could give it up if they had to…yet manage to write novel after novel. Of course, I do believe a strong passion to write is motivating, but more importantly, a strong commitment to write is what’s needed.
You’re not a real writer, unless you’ve been published. Here’s the reality: Anyone can upload a book onto the internet; if you want, you can be published tomorrow. This is not to discount the many fabulous self-published authors who have produced wonderful books through blood, sweat, tears, and love for their story. I’m merely saying that those of us who have not yet published are no less than your third cousin who uploaded the first-draft of his memoirs onto Amazon and sold one copy to his grandmother. If he gets to say “writer,” I darn-tootin’ can too.
I suggest that what makes you a “real writer” is taking seriously the need to tell your story in the best way you can. There are both traditionally and self-published authors who do exactly that. And there are pre-published authors doing that, including yours truly. As Kristen Lamb has often asserted, remove the “aspiring” from “aspiring writer.” Writers write, so if you consistently write, you’re a writer. Move on.
1. Edit/rewrite SHARING HUNTER, a YA contemporary novel. A couple of chapters done.
Edit two short stories–one needs a final polish, the other a full edit. Edited two stories and wrote/edited a third story this round.
Read 10 fiction books. Read 12 books.
White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart by Holly Black
Firelands by Piper Bayard
Almost a Scandal and A Breath of Scandal by Elizabeth Essex
Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World by Kristen Lamb
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Black Opal (advance read) by Catie Rhodes
Finish craft book: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson. Finished and typed up notes. Yes, I highly recommend this book to young adult authors.
5. Visit and comment on five ROW80 blog posts per week. Done.
Attend at least one RWA meeting. Attended three meetings and planning to return to my local chapter next month.
What “you’re not a writer unless” statements have you heard? How was your week?