I’ve been thinking a bit about my whole journey to getting to where I am now (unpublished, but working hard at becoming published) and why I wasn’t here way earlier. I’ve come up with a few reasons for this and I thought they’d be worth sharing.
One reason I have never pursued a career in writing previously is because I have listened to the nay-sayers. I have had people tell me that there’s no way to make a living writing fiction. I have heard it said by industry professionals that it is a hard slog, and even then if you’re based in New Zealand ‘don’t quit your day job.’ I heard this from a huge variety of sources, when I think about it, and one of those sources was my own mind, telling me that if it’s so hard I should just go ahead and do something else.
Working through that negativity has been a huge part of the process of writing for me, as you will know if you’ve read my writing-musing posts before. I had substantial negative thought patterns forming road blocks in my head that would stop me from finishing a story, even finishing a sentence. This is never going to be easy, but if I care about it enough I can make it work. If I have negative voices in my head I have to push them back, put them aside or work around them. If I have people telling me it’s hopeless in real life, that’s a lot harder. Thankfully I have a circle of wonderfully supportive people, so I can listen to them instead. Cheerleaders are important.
Another reason I haven’t really tried before was that I had some advice in my late teens that to be a writer you have to have read widely. This advice was repeated again and again by published authors and it made a lot of sense to me. I knew that there was no point writing something if someone else had already done it better, and I knew that there was no sense in writing if I didn’t have a good vocabulary or if I didn’t know how good writing worked. Steven King says the same thing several times in On Writing.
What this means is that since my late teens I’ve kind of been in research mode. I read all the time for pleasure, so I’m learning a lot there. I re-read the books I love, hopefully gleaning tips on how to make a book so involving, so moving that the reader wants to come back to it again and again. I have tried to read more classics as well as non-fiction to expand my scope of reading knowledge. I read a lot of teen fiction, but I’ve also read adult stuff and the odd contemporary prize winning literary masterpiece.
A couple of years ago when I heard a couple of inspiring women speak at a conference and became motivated I guess I felt I had researched enough.
Then of course there’s the whole time and inclination thing. You’ll never be able to write if you don’t give yourself time to do so. For many years I was consumed by many hobbies. I still have some of them but a fair few have fallen by the wayside. I still want to paint, but I never do and drawing is confined to while I’m roleplaying (multi-tasking) or when I’m on the phone at work and I’m listening to someone ranting or giving me their life story. I don’t hardly scrapbook any more, and when I do it’s only if I feel I’ve already done enough writing for the day and I don’t scrapbook if I’m doing a patchwork quilt at the moment. My patchwork stuff is currently put away. My roleplaying is down to just one fortnightly game and Lee and I don’t go to very many movies except for during the festival. All of this means I have more time for
Rock Band writing.
Like I said here, there is always going to be something else you could be doing. You have to make room in your life for writing if that’s what you want to do.
I’m sure there are other mitigating factors but I think those above are the really big ones.
PoF: same as every Saturday morning blog entry
CO: brunch please now. I want waffles with chocolate syrup on them
Extra reading: Learning to Write by Matthew Cheney.