Friday, February 25, 2011

Realities of Writing

I was browsing through my facebook and ran across a friend's post where he laments yet another rejection. This one after the publisher showed initial interest. Oh, how I could relate.

But what really got me thinking was a comment posted underneath. "Your hobby sucks."
Sure, it's not delicate, but then the writing business is really no place for the delicate of heart. From an outside perspective- i.e. a nonwriter's perspective- it's completely true.

What other hobby can you spend literally hundreds of hours on and then have nothing to show for it but a flashdrive copy and something saved on your PC? It's not even up for public entertainment like a blog or website, or even an e-mail. No one sees it unless you put it in front of them and beg them to read.

Add to that the hundreds of dollars writers spend to hone their craft. Anyone serious about writing needs to understand the book business. While the internet is helpful, it can't replace writers conferences where you sit at the feet of experts and learn.

Okay, yes, there are exceptions to the rule. Some people- one or two every three decades- write their first novel and it becomes pure gold. After submitting their work to a grand total of 15 agents they are offered representation and shortly thereafter a six figure contract.
Can you say Cinderella? Only these Cinderella's actually exist.

But if you're a writer, you can't plan your future on being the next Cinderella.

In fact, one of the biggest factors of success in the writing business is persistence. Keep writing, editing and submitting. Regardless of how many people tell you "no", you don't give up.

And honestly, real writers can't give up because they're not writing for money. They're writing because they love doing it. Sure, we'll take a truckload of cash, but honestly, that's not why writers sit at the computer another day penning their thoughts and weaving another story.
It's simply part of who they are.
Yes- most writers face a lot of rejections.
Yes- writing is a solitary thankless job 99% of the time.
No- not every manuscript ends up as a published book.
No-you probably won't make enough money to support your family writing.

And really, it's better to face those realities before you commit your life to writing. But if you're like me, it wouldn't have mattered either way. I fell in love with writing and there's no turning back. I need it. I love it.

Does my hobby suck? Not to me. How could I ever say that? Some of the most profound moments have been when I see a child reading my book or getting e-mails from complete strangers thanking me for the story. How could I ever put a price on that? Even though I haven't sold a tremendous number of books yet, I have reached out and touched people from all over the world with my story- something that would have been impossible any other way.

And you will too. Or you already have.

That is the most important reality of writing.

Even so, I can't help wishing that my dream (the one where my agent finally sold my book) was a reality. I think every writer relates with the need for acceptance every once in a while. Sure, writers are supposed to have tough skin- and like it or not we grow it out of necessity. But underneath it all we're still dreamers hoping that one of these days we'll see a miracle contract.


Meg, Caitlin and Laurie T said...

Thank you for this wonderful post:)


Laura said...

Laurie- thanks for stopping by.

Miki Juntado said...

This is such an amazing blog post. Just amazing.

Laura said...

Hey Miki- Good to see you again!

Wendy Swore said...

Not only do we hope for that miracle contract, we hope for our families to be as long suffering and hopeful about the whole process as we are as writers.

Love the pyramid.

Laura said...

Well said Wendy- and I'd like to extend that thought to every aspect of my life.