Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What makes a real writer?


Our resident Problem Child is right. Our website is one of the most exciting firsts in my writing career so far. Most people focus on the first call-the one from an editor wanting to buy your book. But there are many, much smaller, firsts along the way.

The first time I typed THE END. Isn't that an awesome feeling? The first time I gathered enough courage to show someone else my work and submitted it for publication. The first time I saw my words in print, even though I wasn't being paid. The first paycheck, no matter that it was really small. Now, the first website.

All of these have combined to make me feel like a "real writer", whether or not I ever get the editor's call. So many of us who are a part of RWA become focused on publishing with an RWA-recognized publisher. Those standards are there for good reasons. Just remember that you don't become an author when you get that call. You already are one.

Practice saying it out loud. :) Then say it to those closest to you. I've finally gotten to the point where I can say it when someone asks what I "do". That's real progress, let me tell ya.

Count all the firsts along the way, not just the big ones, because they all combine to make you the writer you are.

Angel (Yes, I'm the emotional, serious one. Can you tell?)

7 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

Very thought-provoking. We do take a lot of baby steps along this journey. Like you, I've finally reached the point where I can tell people that I'm a freelance writer. And what's even better is that my husband will tell people that I'm a writer too!

P.S. We love that you're emotional and serious. Someone in the group has to be. :-)

Maven Linda Winstead Jones said...

All very true, Angel. Those firsts are so important, and they keep on coming.

For me, the big first was getting the family to recognize that what I was doing was for real, and not a hobby that might be replaced by knitting at any moment. It did come, eventually. I was sitting in my recliner, eyes closed, listening to Liszt and plotting. One of the kids came up and poked me on the shoulder a couple of times, and my husband said, very quietly but not so quietly that I couldn't hear him beyond the headphones, "Leave Mommy alone. She's working." Ahhhh.

Here's to many more wonderful firsts for all the Children!

LJ

Maven Linda Howard said...

The first time I actually mailed a manuscript to a publisher -- after writing only for my own pleasure for twenty years! -- I was physically ill. Nerves ate me alive, and I couldn't eat. I lost twenty pounds in the month or so it took me to hear back from Leslie Wainger (yes, those were the good old days when response time was short). So mailing the first ms. was a milestone, but it wasn't painless by any means.

In a way, I still feel like that whenever a book is finished and in the publisher's hands. I always feel as if I came up short, as if I didn't do the story justice. I have nothing but admiration for you Children, for having the guts to not only tackle this business but to do it with such enthusiasm.

Much love -- Linda

misty wright said...

I have to say that the biggest first for me was telling my husband that I wanted to be a writer. I'd been writing while he was working and I was preg. with our third child. I'm guessing I was afraid he would laugh and not take me seriously. Boy was I wrong. He was and still is GREAT! He tells people that I'm a writer then they want to ask many questions. LOL.

I have a thick skin and knew that I had a lot to learn. (still have lots to learn) But that is what I love about being a writer. So, I was a little on edge having someone read my work but everyone has helped me so much. I just hope to send in more work now that I've just had our fourth (and Last!) baby. ;)

I love the site, Kids! I will be joining you soon! I know I keep telling a few of you that, but I really mean it. I just have to get past us moving in the next two months first. (sigh) Not to mention getting the baby (3 weeks old now) sleeping through the night. Talk soon. Keep up the good work!

Misty

Maven Beverly Barton said...

Angel, you're so right about appreciating each achievement in your writing career--finishing that first book, entering that first contest, submitting that first proposal and even receiving that first rejection. Published or unpublished, writers write. I was once told by well meaning but misguided friends that my enthusiasm for writing bordered on obsession. They were right, it did. And after over fifty published books, I'm still obsessed with writing, so don't let anyone dampen your spirit or curb your wonderful enthusiasm.
--BB

Sabrah Agee said...

Most of my life, I'd always thought of myself as a "storyteller" rather than a writer. There have always been stories in my head clamoring to get out, either by my hand or my mouth -- usually by mouth. (Did I mention I was an early talker?) I think the first time I felt like a "real" writer, was when I held my first completed manuscript in my hands. It never saw publication and, without a doubt, it never will. But that manuscript proved to me that I could write novel-length fiction. The first person I showed it to was my sister-in-law and I remember that while she was reading it, my mouth was so dry I could spit cotton. And when she said, "This is one of the funniest things I've ever read, you should try to get it published," I knew I was a writer.

If any of you children
have any doubts about your calling . . . Don't. You are definitely "real" writers.

Sabe

Problem Child said...

I think a lot of folks feel like they need "permission" to write, yet I haven't found out who the offical "permission-giver" is...

I think that's why it's so important to have writing friends--and a writing group like ours. I know you guys will give me permission to write, but having the Mavens do it, well, that's about as offical as it gets!!