Thursday, August 03, 2006

want to be a writer? part 2

There’s a legion of uninformed people in the world, and as a writer, you will probably meet them all sooner or later. These people think that being a writer is sitting spending an hour or two writing down the first thing that comes to mind and then getting paid huge amounts of money.

Writing takes study, hard work, discipline, sacrifice, a thick skin, and a sense of humor. Not necessarily in that order.

“Who do I think I am?”

“What do I think I’m doing?”

“How will I ever remember all this?”

If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit to having those same feelings in inadequacy. Who are you? Well, you’re probably the next treasurer or secretary or president of your chapter. You’re the next delegate to the national conference. You’re the next published author in your critique group. You’re the next Golden Heart recipient. Or the next RITA winner. You could be the next Avon star or Berkley star or whichever house snaps you up.

If you didn’t believe that, why would you be here?

How do you make those things happen? Sixteen years ago I was taking care of my first grandchild while my daughter worked. I was still raising two children at home, and working 40 plus hours a week at my “job” job. I purposed in my heart that I would not be a sign maker for the rest of my life. I became determined to get myself out of that position and make enough money writing to support my family.

Now, I’m not telling you this, to tell you how good I am. I’m telling you this to show you what determination can do. When I look back, I can’t imagine how I managed it, but I did.

I wrote every available minute. When I was writing Rain Shadow, I was working some pretty crazy hours, but whenever I wasn’t at work, I was in front of my computer. My children took turns fixing supper, and they learned to leave me alone while I was working. MY son learned to do his own laundry on Sunday nights.

My husband, who’d never turned on the washer in his life, learned to do laundry. I wasn’t always happy with the results, but hey, he did it. He did the grocery shopping for the first time in our married life. For nearly a year, I barely attended any family gatherings. My husband took the kids and left me home, undisturbed, to work.

Think being a SINGLE parent is tough? You’re right. But that writer I mentioned last blog whom the newspaper article was about? She was the single parent of three children. She held two jobs, and she believed a spouse is more inhibiting than being single. So it can be done.

You have good examples and bad examples all around you. Learn from them. I had a friend who sold two books after eight years of writing. She went through a divorce, and hasn’t written a thing since. Am I saying a divorce isn’t a trauma? Certainly not. But everything depends on your reaction and how you handle it.

Another friend caught her husband cheating on her while she was “bed-ridden sick” pregnant. She went through a divorce and wrote while in bed—she doggedly kept at it and continued to sell books. She’s happily remarried, writing in a new genre and a lead author now, by the way.

This publication thing doesn’t just happen. It didn’t fall into my lap like a winning lottery ticket. I earned it. I did my time like everyone else.

But how much time do I have to do? you ask. Granted, some do more than others.

You do as much time as it takes.