Realities of Being A Writer

Before I started writing, I had an idea of what a writer was and how they went about their business. A writer lived an elusive life and spent their time crafting the stories I loved to read. Sure, there was the inkling that wasn’t all a writer did. My mind had a picture of what a writer was. Then I started writing and I realized that I had been entirely wrong all along. I realized I was wrong because, all of a sudden, I was a writer too. If I could be lumped together with writers, then my preconceived notions and ideas of being a writer had to be wrong because I sure as hell didn’t meet any of those standards.

Anyone can be a writer, not everyone is an author
The more I wrote, the more I struggled to define what it was that I was doing. Sure, I was writing, but it certainly wasn’t the caliber of what I was picking up in the bookstore. Though in my mind, I didn’t think I was too far off. Writing was something that published people did. I had never thought that just like actors and acting there was a massive pool of wannabes who were fighting to make it into the bigger pool. That’s when I realized that, yes, I am a writer. Just like thousands maybe millions of others. I still have hope that one day I will be able to use the term author with a slick grin on my face and my chest puffed out. Yes, I am imagining a Superman like pose as I say it with a distinct non-regional intonation. One day.

Writing is hard (so is editing)
If you were to tell me that stringing words together was hard a few years ago, I would have laughed in your face. I knew plenty of people who couldn’t do such a thing in high school or college. But that wasn’t me. I could always write sentences and have them make sense. If I got back a bad paper it was because they didn’t like the subject matter, not that it didn’t make sense and the comments told me so. That’s why when I sat down in front of my screen and pounded out my first novel at a respectable 95k, I was fairly certain with an editing sweep or two I’d have it in tip top shape. (I can’t even look at that novel anymore without crying about how foolish I was.) The truth is, writing is hard and composing a story whose words do your story justice is even harder. If I knew how many sleepless nights I’d suffer through as I thought about how I can fix my story.

Characters have a mind of their own
Some people may disagree that they are in complete control of their characters. To those writers, I salute you because I don’t have much control of my characters. When they appear before me, they are entities that have been created in my mind. I can change their reactions no more than they can change mine. They are their own people who run a muck, while I act as puppet master, luring them into situations that make my story more interesting. That means, sometimes my characters go on tirades I never expected them to. Or characters that I envisioned together end up being attracted to some other character. My job is to take their actions and reactions and make sure my words accurately reflect the entire situation.

Feedback is crucial if you expect to improve
One can only go so far when it comes to studying the craft and honing one’s skill. Learning to follow the rules and when to break them are important. However, you’ll never know if you’re doing it well until you get feedback. At first I thought I could get by without ever sharing my story. Then I realized how foolish that sounded. If I couldn’t share my work in order to get feedback, how was I going to handle being published. Then there’s also all the added benefits of having other sets of eyes on the words you see so frequently your eyes have a thick creamy glaze over them. (Krispy Kreme anyone?) Other people spot things in my work that I can’t see any more. Plus there’s the whole, I wrote it so I know exactly what it’s supposed to be. I don’t think I would have improved at all as a writer if I never subjected myself to the heart racing feeling of having work critiqued.

I may write, but I still work a day job
This was one of the biggest bummers I ran across. When I started writing, I thought that things would start to fall into place and I could leave the torment of a day job behind. My only work would be crafting the best novel I possibly could. Maybe I could even get a freelancing job on the side. I still have those hopes, but they’ve been appropriately tempered. I do wish to write for IGN or a few other media outlets, but I realize it’s not going to happen over night. I’ll be writing tirelessly for this blog and my novels and sometimes it feels like I’ll never make it.

Writing is a business
I already told you I was deluded before I started writing. I wasn’t foolish. I knew there were corporate machines. I never thought that the same corporate machines that regulate nearly every aspect of my life also ruled over my beloved books. Likely that stemmed from my detached relationship with the industry. I went into the book stores and a found books I liked and stuck to my genres. I never ventured out to learn more about the authors other than when their next book was coming out. I didn’t realize that the process of getting a book published was so procedural. In my mind, a book was created and then it was published. No hoops or people to appeal to. Little did I know that the authors I loved also had agents just like the actors I watch on TV. The fact that I was going to need to go through a process of appealing to multiple people before my book may ever see the light of day astounded me.

Numerous avenues for publication
With the revelation of agents also brought my awareness to the concept of traditionally published vs self-published books. It blew my mind, because to me books were books and I thought they all went through the same process to reach me. There are physical books, e-books, audiobooks. Each format different. All of it new territory for me as a lowly writer who just wanted her stories told. So I soaked up all the information I could, and there is a hell of a lot of information. In fact, I think I’m still soaking. The landscape of writing is changing and it’s giving more access to people like me to have an opportunity to shine. Competition is great and it’s good to know that even as a writer, I still need to rear up for the fight of my life.

Everyone does it differently
One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed about writing is that when it comes to putting a story to words, everyone does it differently. Sure, people have similar ways, but not everyone. There’s no rule saying that everyone needs to do it the same way to get the intended result. Instead, it is a virtual free-for-all as writers compose their pieces. Some people just sit down and write with no idea of where it’s going to go. Other people plan every twist and turn that will come. There are people who writing gut wrenching romances. And others who write eye opening science fiction. That’s what’s best about writing. Everyone has the opportunity to tell the story they want to tell in the way that they want to tell it. No one can

What are some of the realizations you came to after you started writing?

6 thoughts on “Realities of Being A Writer

  1. Great piece. I totally agree with you on characters. I have no control over them, they just act how they act. I’m glad to see others have this viewpoint.
    It’s a lot more work then people realize. Even after having self-published a book I still find myself lost and overwhelmed.

  2. Oh! Great read. I love it!!!! Definitely agree on many points. Lie you, I had no idea the life of a writer (or author) was so full of difficulties. I was way off haha

  3. Pingback: Happy One Year | So, I pondered…

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