Why some writers never become authors

Why some writers never become authors

running-uphill1A few months ago I decided I would become avid jogger. And notice I used the word, “avid” because this is exactly what I’d had in mind. Please know that I have never been a jogger, runner or trotter of any sort (although I can be seen taking the occasional brisk walk). It was on one such walk that I got this great idea to jog. As I am taking my old lady walk up the hill, a virile young jogger, drenched with perspiration whisks pass me. She is glowing and happy and doing it. She smiles and waves as she passes and I thought I want that.

Eventually, I began to notice others in my neighborhood; donned in their workout they were whizzing by, getting in their cardio as they should and making it look as breezy as those grinning actors do in those commercials for the exercise contraptions you see on T.V.

Then, I got myself together one morning, did some extensive stretching and braved the neighborhood. I hadn’t planned to jog for too long maybe a mile or so.

Do you realize how long a mile really is when you’re jogging?

When you’re driving, a mile is not even long enough to finish a Krispy Kreme donut or listen to a favorite song. When you’re walking, jogging or using your legs in any way to get there it is long enough to listen to several songs on your phone or iPod; it is long enough to envision yourself on a stretcher being taken away by EMS; it is certainly long enough to become so winded you are gasping for air and seriously considering calling the hubby at home to hitch a ride back.

About a third of the way my legs were giving and suddenly it seemed as though there was this massive gravitational pull and a threat from my body of actually going backwards even though I wasn’t on an incline.

So much for things being the way things seem.

It’s like that with writing too. Writers read books by their favorite authors who make writing seem as effortless and attractive as that devious jogger I bumped into did with jogging. Their words seem to pour out in one fell swoop as if in a dreamlike trance. And so you begin to write. Perhaps you dabble here and there when you get inspired. Maybe you pen a short story or two when the spirit hits you. But it’s once you commit that things change.

Writing isn’t always pretty and inspiration can quickly become a byword. It is in fact more difficult than rock climbing (I’m guessing of course). It is psychologically grueling and intensive. You’ll search for the words to describe a thing or a feeling and it’s as if every coherent thought gets up and leaves.

Oh so you think you can write?

Writing takes your confidence for a thrashing. Oh, I see, you think your words flows like the Nile. Wait until you have a deadline in which to edit a chapter or a portion of your masterpiece and suddenly your river of inspiration dries up like an Indian well. It is then you hear the voices that remind you that your sister is the creative one of the family. It is then you will hear laughter from within and that begging question: “Uh…again, who told you that you could write?” Or your Momma will call you out of the blue and ask did you remember to submit your resume to that place because she heard that they have great benefits and it can’t hurt to at least consider working a real job.

Learning the craft of writing is an endless process.

You must learn how to plot, when to outline or not, the 10 rules of editing and how to develop style and voice and theme. Your head is spinning and you wish you were back in first grade when writing was just cute and fun. And just when you think you’ve learned enough to actual do some damage to the literary world you find out you are doing it all wrong. Sigh…And you have to ask why many writers never become authors?

So why do we continue on?

We would do it for free if we had to. We love it just that much. We image someone getting lost in the pages of our book as we’ve done countless times with the books of others. And the thought of working a 9-5 for the rest of our lives with no creative outlet feels a little like drowning.

You have a story pinned up inside and you can’t rest until you’ve gotten it down on paper. The thought of sharing your stories with the world gives you this indescribable thrill and you image that’s what flying feels like. And because for so many of us, it is a gift from God and writing is like walking in purpose. And who doesn’t want to walk in purpose?

The Writer’s Journey: Getting Published

book_blogHere it is. My official book launch day. In Three Days, the novel is finally available to all of you. And to say that I’m completely stoked is an understatement. I’m taking it all in, inhaling and exhaling and smiling like a kid at a birthday party eyeing a table full of presents and her favorite cake. Now, there were no paparazzi at my front door this morning, clutching cameras and microphones; the phone wasn’t buzzing clear off of the nightstand. But my heart is break dancing, spinning on its back with its legs stretched to the sky, it’s doing the robot and the wave and the Harlem Shake. And I feel like jumping in the air and doing that Toyota ‘Oh what a feeling’ jump. (You old heads remember that one.) But I won’t.  But I am smiling and thinking: I did it. I said that I would and with the help of God I did it. Boom.

Getting published is a milestone and my journey continues, but today I get to sit and relax a minute, refresh and revive myself before I get up again, stretch those muscles, crack my neck and knuckles and continue onward.  But I’d like to recap a few things I’ve learned because it never hurts but often helps.

Learn the craft of writing fiction

Becoming a marketing and social media guru is awesome. But while you’re doing all of that, don’t forget in the end you need to have a d@#$ good story.  You must learn how to write and learn how to write well or you may have 15 minutes and that is all. And even if you have a natural knack or gift or talent there is so much to learn; study, buy books, attend seminars and conferences; read, read and then read some more. Read all kinds of fiction; understand the flow of story, the development of characters, plot development. Serious writers invest in their craft. Writing should not be a tedious and unpleasant thing. And you don’t necessarily have to think about technique as you write. But you will find that as you write that which you have learned will make its way into your story: a type of muscle memory of sorts. You will be amazed at how you are able to discern gaps or flaws in your story as you edit as you study the craft. You will have a better eye/ear to what is missing or what needs to be weeded out. Your writing will improve and grow, but unless you’re writing strictly for yourself, some things must be taught.

Allow your story to flow naturally

Don’t try to be or sound like the next great anything. Simply tell a good story. Write it until you’re interested and in to it. Make it funny or sad or ridiculously exciting, but tell it well. Remove thoughts of trying to remind others of… Just do you. And if you do it well, and without reservation, the rest will come easier.

Take the time to develop your story

Sometimes I watch those cooking shows; the ones where the chefs are given a set of ingredients and a time limit to turn out an amazing dish. One of chefs’ biggest complaints is time. They aren’t given enough time to create an excellent dish. Well, you have time. Take it to develop your story. If something isn’t working don’t ignore it. If a subplot isn’t working, take it out or revamp it. If a character is useless, he has got to go. As with cooking, no one wants a half-baked, thrown together piece of…Trust me, your reader will know when you stopped caring about the story.

Enjoy the journey

There are so many stops and resting points in our journey as writers. Yet it continues on. And as we accomplish goals, there are always more to accomplish. It is the mantra of life. Enjoy what you do. Breathe in and out; smell the fresh air, have fun with your characters. This is not root canal or outpatient surgery. It should be an experience that you relish, even if you don’t like every aspect of it. Every now and again stop to pick some flowers. Now inhale. O.K. exhale. Enjoy the journey.