Who is “they” anyway?
Long ago, some smart copywriter figured out that stressed flipped spells desserts, but what about being a writer? What’s the flipside of picking up a pen or hammering away at a keyboard?
- It can be brain-squeezingly, angst-ridden, stomach-churningly hard work. Of course, sometimes the Muse (she deserves a capital letter!) bestows her graces without drama, but – for me anyway – it can often be a case of combining discipline with aspiration while waiting for inspiration!
- Once you’ve written that first draft there’s still some serious work to be done. It could be wholesale re-modelling, or your story might only require some fine-tuning. However, it’s a rare thing indeed if the first draft is the only draft. Our friend and best-selling author Victor Villasenor figures 15 drafts is about write–oops! RIGHT! My character, Thomas Bladen, Brit working-class spy who solves crimes in five of my books and counting. I, meanwhile, check the technical text on firearms and UK security policies multiple times before I send a book off to Joffe Books. And that’s not counting all the rewrites – 132 times (or thereabouts!).
- So you have your literary work-of-art…now what? It’s submission time, a potentially long wait, and then the risk of rejection. The first one hurts the most, like a broken heart, but it gets easier. Chocolate helps.
- Your work is published for all to see. Now comes the chance to interact with your audience. Initially it may be a one-sided transaction. Online reviews, comments and feedback. Some of it may help your writing; some of it may be so wide of the mark that it needs a map to get home. Look for constructive criticism that gives you something to work with. Thornton (aka His Moiness and Editor-in-Chief) is working on a book about editing with an entire chapter devoted to the art of literary criticism. You are either pulling a splinter from the lion’s paw or sharing a stake with Dracula when you critque someone’s work, so be careful, and do remember, even Hemingway had an editor. (Not sure if Hemingway remembered that though.)
- Sometimes there’s no feedback at all (and no sales!). It can feel as though you’re writing in a vacuum. Which is no place to be, especially if you have a dust allergy.
And…that’s where AWwYP comes into the picture – a living, thriving, challenging, and occasionally snipey community of writers and readers. We know the writing journey from the mud on our boots and the fiery ache in our hearts. We don’t claim to have all the answers and we’re not a one-size-fits-all solution to every writer’s woes.
But we know what it takes to craft a story, to love and cherish it and then let it go. We appreciate the courage and the wisdom and the folly of making stuff out of nothing, or from our own inner world, and then putting it out there for other people to experience. Some of us are newbies and some of us are long in the tooth – and all of us have something useful to contribute.
And if, despite reading about the five perils above you still want to write – can’t not write – can’t stop thinking about writing – can’t imagine life without converting ideas and emotions and experiences into words – welcome to your tribe. You’re home. Now, what’s your story?