Saturday, October 14, 2006
I've had a lot of conversations with friends and random people about writing to be published these days. This time last year I was very much not the expert on any of this, and now, well now I find myself immersed in a strange wonderful brave new world. And I love every second of it.
Now of course I am no expert. Though I am quickly learning 'the ways', I have been at this game under a year, and there are far more experienced authors out there than yours truly. All I can speak of is personal experience and quote the plethora of blogs and articles available on the world wide web. But I thought I would share some of my thoughts on writing and on trying to get published. Read or don't read, and remember always regard anything you find on the internet with a degree of suspicion. Okay. Now . . .
There is a saying out there, somewhere, by someone probably really smart, that I can't find exactly, so I'm going to have to wing it here, that goes something like, "The difference between a published author and not is perseverance." I believe this goes with almost every art form, visual, performance, etc. And this is what makes all the difference.
Having become an author most unexpectedly, the thing that surprised me most was how many people were genuinely interested in writing a book. Now I'm not talking of that age old, "Oh you write, I was thinking of writing a book myself." But good friends, or people I respect, who genuinely are interested in pursuing the art form. Some of them want to be authors in much the same way I had (and still do - I have not given up on the dream yet my friends) always wanted to be an actor. Seeing new authors being published hurt, because they wanted to be one of those. And so of course they asked me how I did it.
Uh . . .
Aside from the mechanics (which you can read further down this blog) I said, I wrote. I had never before completed a novel (somewhere deep in the bowels of my computer is a 140 page single spaced un-spellchecked pirate opus I wrote as a teenager and still lacks an ending), but something this time spurred me on. Whether it was the story, the characters or the sudden silly thought, "Maybe I could be published", it's hard to tell. But I became intensely devoted to the writing of it. When people asked me what was new, I told them about a chapter I had just finished. When I knew I was going to busy with a play in the fall, I made a point of writing two pages single spaced a day during the summer.
And so I tell people write. But don't just write when the muse strikes you and you are inspired and excited and can't stop your fingers flying over the keyboard, write also when you can't bear the thought of looking at a computer screen. Write when all you want to do is cry. And write when you think you absolutely suck at it. Follow a schedule. I try to be as romantic as possible. I think about what a "real" writer would look like working and try to emulate that. So I have created this little nook with a corner desk and little doo-dads scattered about that inspire my story. I have also recommended writing an hour before work. That is to say waking up an hour earlier than you normally do, and writing. An hour, one little hour, does not make a massive difference in the scheme of things. Doing something before the day really begins means that at the end of the day, if something comes up, someone wants to go for drinks, you want to be spontaneous and see a movie or are just exhausted, you can do these things, because you have already taken care of the writing. It isn't hovering over you, a weight of yet one more thing to do.
If you want to write a book, start today. Like going on a diet, or starting to exercise, don't wait for the next week to start because if you miss Monday then you'll have to wait yet one more week. Start on a Thursday. Start now. And then continue. I was watching some daytime talk show where they had some expert on that said you had to do something 21 times before it became a habit. I don't know if that's accurate, but why not try? Write for 3 weeks straight. Just do. When you are happy, and when you are miserable, write. It's a job, it's not always going to be fun.
The message is a bit repetitive I confess. And it isn't all that relevatory. But it is the truth. And it works.
Next time: How to get published (yes I am going to reveal the secret! - okay, I mean not really, but I have a bit of advice that I think may be useful, I dunno . . .)