It took quite a while for me to be able to say this without scrunching my face up and laughing in embarrassment. I had two books published and on sale before I could force the word “author” past my lips. There’s a stigma attached to it, one that I used to buy in to on some level. Writers are people who have nothing better to do with their time. They are loners. Most of them will never amount to anything. Here’s the best: writing is easy! Easy! I wish it was easy!
Truth be told, I never wrote more than school papers before I became sick and disabled. Suddenly I had a lot of free time- check. I never felt well enough to be around many people- check. I’ll probably never make much money at writing so if that’s how you judge accomplishment then that’s another one off the list. Now, easy? Sure, drafting stories and creating characters comes naturally to me but that’s different. I guess I’ll settle for three of the four.
Is that why I was embarrassed to call myself a writer when I was well on my way to having published a completed trilogy? People judge and the first thing they usually want to know about you is how you make your money. That’s just how things go.
I couldn’t work but was tired of telling people I was on disability so that prodded me to get over myself. I can now say with pride that I AM A WRITER and here’s how you understand what that means for me:
1. I have imaginary friends.
I spend so much time with the characters that I’ve created that they begin to feel like friends, if not family. Creating dialogue is almost like talking to them and I grow very protective. I model some of them after people I know so that only adds to the feeling.
2. My bad moods can get violent.
Most people who know me only see the sweet, overly talkative Michelle. Occasional biting comments are my only defense mechanism. When my mood gets dark, so can my books. I start to blow shit up and kill beloved characters before I even realize what I’m doing. I hammer at the keyboard, writing vicious stabbings or fire fights. It’s pretty scary but a hell of a lot of fun.
3. I’m a little insane.
Some government watch list is probably monitoring my key strokes as I research how to build bombs and the different types of automatic weapons. At least I now know how to remove evidence from a dead body — that could come in handy.
4. I find typos in everything I read.
Yes, every best seller and magazine article has mistakes. I don’t mind that because nobody is perfect. What I hate is that I see them! Before becoming a writer, I was as blissfully ignorant as the rest of the readers who’s eyes don’t fully take in every word. It was wonderful. Now, I just want to bang my head against a wall.
5. Some days I think my books are great and some days I feel like they are trash.
6. Good isn’t good enough.
A 3 star review is supposed to be good but anything below 5 stings. My books feel like they are a part of me and any judgement on them is a judgement on me.
7. And last, I am a terrible editor.
It’s true what they say- always hire an editor. I learned this the hard way when I published my first book. Many authors can do it- I can’t. I suck bad, yet I still spend hours upon hours trying to get it right.
So, there you go, dispelling some ideas about writers. We are all different. Being an author is fun but also challenging both mentally and emotionally. It’s never easy and most writers will never earn a living from it- but it is also a profession where accomplishment is not solely measured on income but on quality. Anyone with a half baked idea and a laptop can start a book but can they craft it in to something worth reading? Can they capture your mind and enhance your imagination?
That is the goal.