It’s come up more than a few times lately, with more than a few of my friends. What is a “real” writer? When do I get to that point? When does it all just flow? Well, in the 13-plus years I’ve been writing, this is what I’ve come to know about being a “real” writer.
So Much Noise.
A real writer writes. They hide in their cave/laundry room/nearest coffee shop and write.
A real writer only writes on Wednesdays.
A real writer writes five thousand words a day when it goes well. Other times it’s like pulling teeth to get five hundred words done.
A real writer only writes when the muse strikes.
A real writer complains. They talk to like-minded writer friends about their hopes, dreams, and fears for the current manuscript, and no matter what, they go back to that manuscript until that sucker is done.
A real writer feels like a fraud, and when they do write a book that sells, they’re secretly afraid they’ll never be able to repeat it.
A real writer dives into each novel without planning, never knowing what’s going to come out.
A real writer gets to go on author tours and talk to kids about their middle grade books,
and opens minds and changes hearts while on said tour.
A real writer has Hollywood knocking on their door constantly.
A real writer does it all – writes, edits, designs covers, reviews books, formats books, and puts books out all by themselves. All the time.
A real writer never gets screwed by her agent/editor/publishing house.
A real writer has discussions with his agent/editor/critique partner about what’s just not working about the current book, and how to make it better.
A real writer doesn’t make good money.
A real writer plots meticulously before starting a new book.
A real writer gets reviews wherever reviews can be posted. Some are glowing. Some are not. Sometimes it looks like the person reviewing never read the book. Sometimes there aren’t many reviews, and the writer’s heart bleeds for that book.
A real writer has written books that will never see the light of day. Conversely, a real writer publishes everything they’ve ever written.
A real writer makes serious money.
A real writer only writes and pushes his wares to real publishers. Big five or nothing, baby.
Market market market. Twitter and FB and Instagram and Goodreads until you die. It’s the only way to make an impression.
A real writer can only write one good book a year.
A real writer refills the well when life hits hard, and puts the writing aside until the storm has passed (because it always passes).
A real writer can write a good book every month.
A real writer only writes for the intelligentsia.
A real writer writes no matter what’s going on in his life – death, birth, hurricanes or earthquakes, they’re writing.
A real writer gets agents and editors excited about their work.
A real writer writes every fucking day because there is no muse and the bills need to get paid.
A real writer eventually learns that there is no correct way to be a real writer, and that what works for one person just won’t work for another. There are as many different roads to Publishing Nirvana as there are people trying to get there.
What is very interesting, is there are a LOT of people out there who want you to buy THEIR way to get to Publishing Nirvana, because THEIR way is the ONLY way. To which I call bullshit – be very wary of ANYONE who says their way is the only way to do anything, especially anything to do with writing. One size does not fit all, and these folks are preying on artists (because writers aren’t the only ones who get scammed in this manner).
So, to all you real writers out there, wherever you are on the writer’s journey, know you aren’t alone. What makes the journey worth while, for me at least, are the other writers/agents/editors we surround ourselves with, and the readers we reach with our words. You CAN do this. You CAN make this into your dream career.
Every writing career is a roller coaster. Sometimes it seems like we’re in free fall; other times it feels like getting to the top is taking forever. What is irritating and fascinating is that no two writers are on the same roller coaster.
Writers, musicians, artists of all kinds, actors, singers, dancers – the arts help to put the world around us into perspective for those who aren’t artists. It’s a gift, an obligation, for us to work on our art.
What is a “real” writer? One who doesn’t quit.
Go out into the world, dear hearts, be brave, and write. Paint. Sing. Film. Dance. And do it with your whole heart. Sending love and hugs to you.
Oh, and check out the writers depicted above. If you know a real writer, please give them a shout out by putting a link to their Amazon page in the comments.
Oh, wow! You included me with these “real” writers. I’m honored to be in such company.
Writing is hard. There is no one way to achieve success. And success is different for each author. At first my success was winning a contest, or getting a “nice” rejection letter. Later on I felt successful when I got my first book published. Four books later, I have the itchies for something else…what I’m not sure. I just know that this is a journey that never ends, and it shouldn’t either, because we can only grow by moving forward, digging deeper, reaching higher.
Your dad is awesome!
HUGS, Roben! You’ll find your “next thing” soon, I can feel it. And yeah – my dad IS pretty awesome!
Great post, Christine — really great. And thank you for including little ‘ol me!
Jenn dear, without your encouragement I wouldn’t still be writing. Of COURSE I included you!
Another Real Writer – Laura Drake http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Drake/e/B001K81L0E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1397667134&sr=1-2-ent
You captured it! can it be?? passion, drive, and tenacious spirit to listen to the inner soul that says (or whispers or shouts) let me out…hear me….share me… Thanks, Christine!!
You’re so welcome, hon! Cheers!
Wonderful post, and a big A-MEN to the not quitting part!!
Such a great post! Sharing!
Great, and inspirational, post! A “real writer” doesn’t quit!
Very well said.
I get very saddened by people boxing everything in with a this or nothing kind of dictat.
Exactly, Viv. The times I’ve listened to those people are the times I’ve floundered the worst. Hugs honey!
I am not a writer but I am HUGE reader. I am also friends with several authors and I listen to them and you nailed it! One that you did not mention that has truly changed me is Shayne McClendon. Her writing has affected me like no other author ever has and I have been reading for almost 40 years! I cherish every word she writes because she has the ability to make you feel. Check her out! She has 25 books out but is relatively unknown because she writes because she has to not to make money.
Thanks, Yvonne – I’ll definitely check Shayne out! Here’s her Amazon page, folks…http://www.amazon.com/Shayne-McClendon/e/B008CJHKEK
Great post! Everyone in LARA is a real writer in my book.
I agree – everyone in LARA is a real writer. Hugs hon!
Thoroughly enjoyed the blog, you real writer you. 🙂
LOL, Lynne! Hugs!
I love everything about this post. Just the other day I was talking to a friend of mine about this. I’ve written two books now (both being published next month *prance*), and I’m working on a third that my publisher will probably option as we speak.. but when people ask me what I do, I still say, “Oh. I work in variable annuities.”
It’s happened really quickly for me, so I do wonder if I actually belong in the writer/author category some days. I wrote a book in January and I sent it off to a bunch of places in February. Suddenly I’m being published. I do feel a bit fraud-ish about it.
I had to stop reading the writing subreddit all together. There are people talking about their literary works. They’ve been editing and writing for years. My own process was nothing at all like that. It is nice to have it acknowledged that it doesn’t HAVE to be.
Sorry to ramble on, but this really hit home for me. It was exactly what I needed to read and when I needed to read it.
YAY! And huge congrats, Michelle! I look at the first couple of books published as kind of like going to grad school – it is hella expensive, but you learn a ton. I’m sure you’ve already learned a lot, since you went through the edit process! So tell us about your books! Yes, we really want to know. HUGS, honey!
Thanks!! You’re right. That’s a great parallel. I’ve definitely learned quite a bit during the process. I got my first rejection. That really stung. I’ve gone through final edit on my first book. Just waiting for the promotional excerpts to be released.
Just a Taste comes out on May 6th from Siren Publishing. It’s a contemporary romance set in Los Angeles. It follows my main characters a caterer, Sara and part owner of a PR firm, Deacon as they rediscover each other.
Once I have the official promotional stuff I will post it to the LARA forums. Hoping to have it next week. In the meantime, here’s the link for the cover. 🙂
When the release date gets closer for the next one, I’ll drop some more information. I don’t mean to come on your blog and talk about me me me. 🙂
Great post, Christine! Sometimes I have to tell my hubby “Unless the baby is on fire, DO NOT BOTHER ME. I’m writing!”
And great article!!!!! 🙂