Scott and Christine, San Diego 1982 Photo by Chet Cunningham – all “real” writers.
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.
The Friday Mashup of Goodness
It’s been a week and a half. I’m digging into YouTube, figuring out Pinterest, using my son as my personal assistant and learning how to work that relationship (as I’m paying him, too) as well as write, read, be a good worker bee and a better wife/mom. As I work out my plans for the blog/life/everything, some posts aren’t getting written and I do apologize!
However, I have links I’d like to share!
Leonie Dawson has a terrific article on her blog about the Four Commandments of Being Creative: How Not To Freak Out Fuc* It Up or Flounder Your Magical Idea – something all of us could use.
For those of you who are constantly surprised to find food that is growing its own civilization in your refrigerator, there’s this gem that my brother found – it’s called The Shelf Life of Food. I think we should all post it on the fridge, don’t you?
Shelly Johnson has a post today called Simplifying Won’t Kill You (And It Just May Save Your Life) that everyone should read. I’m now itching to clean out my closets, and if you know me, you know that’s an aberration.
My good friend Catie Rhodes has an awesome post up today called Grave Houses – Cities of the Dead that you really must read.
The handsome Aaron Michael Ritchey.
And to top it off, Aaron Michael Ritchey (Awesome Author of The Never Prayer) interviewed me, and we’re giving away books to people who comment. Aaron needs comment love so I’d appreciate it if you’d shower him with some.
Part One and Part Two
In Other News…
Here in So Cal, it’s going to be a warm weekend. An easy travel wine is the Sofia Blanc de Blancs, a sparkling wine in a small can. Yeah, I know. But sunshine, a can of sparkling wine, some grapes and cheese and crackers, and a walk along the beach. Go for it – get your vitamin D in naturally, move those bodies, feel alive.
Thanks so much for dropping by. Oh, and did I mention that if you comment over at Aaron’s place on one of the two blog posts, you might win a copy of one of my novels? Go on! Comment! You know you want to…
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?
I haven’t been to a conference in a year. The two I did last year weren’t really conferences – one was a workshop (Andrea Brown Agency-sponsored Big Sur workshop on writing for children, middle grade, and teens – a fabulous workshop but I felt a tad out of place), the other was a convention – Romantic Times, in Los Angeles (which was wonderful, crazy and busy and a little too – um – manic in it’s must-party atmosphere, since I was still recovering from surgery).
April, somehow, seems to be conference month. RT happened earlier this month, in Chicago; and seemingly there were more writers there than readers, so I’m kind of glad I didn’t go. Plus I am just out of costume ideas, lol.
Last weekend was the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference, which looked fantastic – so many terrific agents/editors/speakers, that you wonder how any of them get their real job done
(I know – they work on their iPads on the plane, in the restaurant, at night in their
This is Aaron Michael Ritchey, author of The Never Prayer. Photo swiped from Aaron's site. Thanks, Aaron!
jammies…). A good blog about Pike’s Peak conference is from my friend Aaron Michael Ritchey, and you can find it here. Okay, maybe it’s not so much about the actual conference as it is about the energy supplied by the people you meet in real time for the first time and the wonderful things that happen when you get so many creative people in one room at the same time. At any rate, it’s a really interesting blog post. (Aaron is a really interesting guy who wrote a fantastic novel called The Never Prayer. You should read it.)
This weekend is the Desert Dreams Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona as well as the New England Conference in Salem, Mass. Before I knew the dates for the Salem conference, I signed up for DD – I’ve been there before, it’s small and mighty and I wanted to see friends and family. Plus, Salem is clear across the country and I wasn’t sure about spending the money, psychics and ghost tours notwithstanding. No – to be honest, I didn’t even know the New England conference was the same weekend and I’d hoped to do both, especially since my editor Steph Murray with Crescent Moon Press will be there, as well as a bunch of CMP authors.
But – I’m here at Chaparral Suites, my son getting ready to spend the weekend with family while I get ready to pitch to three agents and enjoy seeing friends, absorbing writing information, have a terrific book signing, and make new friends. Because after all, conferences/workshops/conventions are about making new friends, and strengthening long-time friendships as much as they are about learning craft.
When we writers climb out of our writing cave to go to a conference/workshop/convention, we get to spend time with people who understand us, who talk to people that only exist in our computer screens like we do, who look up weird facts on the internet that with anyone else would look extremely suspicious.
We’re with a huge bunch of people who get the beast. I guess, in a way, it’s like going to a convention of Bobs. Only other Bobs know what it’s like to be a Bob. Well, only other writers know what it’s like to be a writer.
Sorry this isn’t a wine blog today – I just didn’t plan ahead. Next week, I promise. In the meantime, off I go to meet relatives, hug old friends, drink a little too much wine, become good friends with new people, and in general simply bask with other writers.
Plus, have fan-girl moments. I saw both Brenda Novak (NYT Bestselling Author) and Brenda Chin (one of Harlequin’s TOP editors) at dinner last night (not together, though they were sitting in booths next to each other). It was VERY hard not to squee all over both of them – but since conference hasn’t officially started, and since they were in deep discussions with the person they were with, it seemed rude. However – at noon today, conference starts. All Squeeing will therefore be totally valid.
Have a wonderful weekend!