Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Writer's Life

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
~Ray Bradbury

I joined Writers Village University about 5 years ago, when I decided to take the plunge and see if writing was a hobby or something I really wanted to devote more time to (can you guess which I discovered?) And really, it’s been a great experience. I haven’t taken advantage of the classes they offered as much as I could have, but the writing groups I joined turned out to be invaluable in helping me grow as a writer. Sometimes I still marvel at the way you can become such good friends with people you’ve never seen or met in person.

Anyway, the other day one of the women who’s been in and out of one study group emailed me--she’s the columnist for WVU’s partner ezine, T-Zero, and she asked if she could interview me for an upcoming issue:

…All of us unpublished writers want to know how it feels to see our words in print and long to learn what it takes to live the writer’s life. Give us a taste of your achievement…

It was a surreal request, really, because sometimes I really don’t think of myself as someone that other writers would want to read about. The writer’s life, I’m finding, is not that much different after I signed contracts than before. The only difference is that I feel busier than ever! But I’m flattered all the same, and in thinking about her questions, I decided that this is what I would tell anyone who’s unpublished:

Be persistent, and believe in yourself. There are so many times on the lonely writing journey when it would be much easier to give up. Many times when you could spend an afternoon watching movies or working in the garden or curling up with a good book instead of struggling with your own. Many times, especially if you’re in the query pipeline, that you’d rather toss out all those rejection letters along with your stupid manuscript which is never going to be any good at all, and dive into a pint of ice cream for solace. Don’t.

Writing is hard work. It takes more time and self-discipline and dedication than you might ever imagine. But you can’t let the frustrating times get you down so low that you stop altogether. If you want to write, write. If you want to be published, learn everything you can about your target market and the business and the craft itself. Then come up with the best story you can think of, the one that makes you fall in love with the characters every time you think about it, and write it. Enlist the help of others: friends, family, fellow readers and writers, support groups. Revise your work until you can’t stand to look at the words anymore. Find new agents, new editors, new markets. But don’t give up.

Believe me, you never, ever know when you’ll have that one opportunity, when that single editor or agent will tell you they love your ideas and can’t wait to work with you. And when it happens, you’ll be over the moon.


Gay said...

Hi, Allie.

Maria sent me, and I just want to say thank you for your encouragement. We all need to hear words like yours from time to time.

anno said...

Nicely said. I love the quote.
--another visitor via Marianne