Friday, 20 January 2017

On being a writer…

I just found out that two of my novels are in for the third round of last years Gollancz submissions, and the thought filled me with both hope, and dread…

Hope because if I make it much further, there’s a distinct possibility that Gollancz might want one of my books, Dread, because if they say no at this point, it’s been a whole year I’ve been on tenterhooks, just waiting for the note to drop through the door that tells me I didn’t make it...

There’s a lot of people out there who want to be writers, and to be honest, you can see why, all you do is turn up at your desk, welcome the muse to sit beside you, type for a few hour, and then enjoy the rest of your day while the awards flow in one side and the money the other.

But you know something, I don’t believe that people think that’s what it is anymore, I don’t believe that at all, that was the popular theory ten, twenty years ago, and now…?

Now I think everyone’s getting the idea of just how hard it is to write things and make them good.  Anyone can write and get it published, there’s a million websites out there and all you need is a word processor and an idea that you’re willing to write up.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing…

In the past, and to some extent today, the publishers and agents were the ones that held the keys to the doors of being a writer, a “Real” writer, one who made money from their creation, but no longer.  These days anyone can publish a book, but to be recognised as a writer needs something else, and I see this in many places where I find other writers.  It’s not enough that we’ve written a million words, ten novels, a few hundred articles, two or three RPG’s, that’s not enough to qualify us as a writer, what we want is the respect of our peers.

Yeah, you’re not a writer till someone else calls you one…

Oh and did I mention pay?

Yeah, you’re not a writer till you get paid for it either…

And shelf space?

Yeah, you’re not a writer till you’re on the shelves at WH Smiths and Waterstones…

Is this all sounding familiar to the other writers out there?

I write every day, other people call me a writer, I get paid for what I write, and I’m on the shelves at Smiths and Waterstones, but somewhere in my heart is the eternal doubt that I’m just pretending to be a writer, that everything I write is no good and someday, someone will come along and tell me to grow up and do something important with my life…

And every day I ignore that voice in my head and keep writing…

Every day…

And if you're a writer, so must you…

Writing is like any other craft, you don’t learn it overnight, and those who think they’ve got it in one with no redraft, no edit, and no doubt…

Good luck to them, they’ve either already spend the ten thousand hours learning the craft, or they’re being wildly optimistic…

We all get the doubt, doesn’t matter how well or much we’ve written, doesn’t matter what we’ve achieved, where we’re published, or what we’re paid (although I suspect those who’ve earned millions might disagree that notion), we still doubt that anything we do is any good.

But it is…

And I thought about doing something for the Kickstarter Make/100 campaign on how to write a million words in a year, but I fear that most people wouldn’t be interested, because the core tenet of the whole project is just keep writing…

And I’m not sure if the world is ready to be told that…


Thoughts? 

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