Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Curses of a Writer

Don't tell me THAT question hasn't rattled around in your mind before. Especially if you don't have letters after your name like MFA. I don't have them either, and some days I wonder if I'm fooling myself.

If you write nonfiction, having expertise in the subject matter often substitutes partially for not having that almighty writing education. If you write fiction, you simply have to prove yourself with remarkable prose. Either way, though, you need a following. To be a published writer, you have to be a recognized writer. For many, becoming known is a curse that gets in the way.

You've heard the Chinese proverb, "May you live in interesting times." It's supposed to be the first of three curses. The second is: "May you come to the attention of those in authority (usually referring to the government)." The third is: "May you find what you are looking for."

So many writers are afraid of standing up and being writers. They talk about becoming one; they attend book festivals and other events; and they even speak of how to publish and market -- all before they've written the book. Being a published author still carries an air of respect. We crave it. We taste it. We dream about it.

You live in interesting times dominated by the Internet. You want people to know you. You want to find that satisfaction you are looking for as an author/writer. Many are afraid of their duties outside the actual writing effort, so they talk about writing instead of tackling the curses.

Here's how you overcome the writer's curses:

1. Live in interesting times. Embrace change. My gosh, do you know how lucky you are to have the opportunities afforded you in the form of Facebook, blogs, websites,  newsletters, Twitter and LinkedIn? They are practically free once you have an Internet connection. Yet people whine about having to learn them. Hey - you embrace interesting to become interesting. Otherwise, you stay in the shadows. Create a blog, set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, all with matching, catchy titles. Splash yourself on the Web.

2. Let people know you. Dare to be daring. Be bold. Be creative and spread your name and talent. Most of all, SHOW it - don't TELL it. Sites and blogs abound about becoming a writer. Those types of comments are wearing thin. What is your voice? What is your personality? And why aren't you tossing it out to the world to demonstrate you are worth paying attention to?

3. May you find what you are looking for. What are you looking for? Don't say be published. Don't say write something memorable. Don't say earn a living. Establish projects, give them deadlines, do your homework for them and take off. Manage your schedule. Groom your personal development. Submit like a crazy person. Become a business and take your writing seriously. As I always say, if you expect to make a dollar from your writing, expect to become a business person. Published author means becoming CEO of your stories.

Yes, those Chineses phrases are both curses and blessings. The harder you work at them, the more blessed you become.


Julie Musil said...

Excellent post, Hope. And I haven't heard these Chinese proverbs before!

Arlee Bird said...

Found your blog through a Google alert. I'll have to keep up as it sounds like you deal in some interesting stuff. This post was excellent. Good advice. I'm doing okay at the first two, but still need to work harder on the last one. Thanks!

Tossing It Out

Andrew Culture said...

I certainly hear you on the 'advice wearing thin' point; I think that much like in the music industry there is too much emphasis on getting signed and not enough encouragement just to be creative.

Susan Spann said...

Those Chinese curses are among my favorite expressions, but I've never seen your take on them before. I love it! Thanks for some great advice.

I do have to admit, though, that after two large lattes at nearly midnight, the phrase "submit like a crazy person" gave me visions of cackling like a nutcase as I mash the submit button over and over yelling "ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER??"

I think I might take that bit a little less literally...

Kathryn Lang said...

"May you find what you are looking for" - people always wonder how I can see the silver lining in all situations. It is because I am LOOKING for the silver lining in all situations. :D

Donna Cummings said...

What a great post! I like the notion of being CEO of my stories--if writing is going to be a business, I might has well have the top job!

quietspirit said...

As usual, you have given me something to think about.

https://santaisreal.blogspot.com/ said...


Thank you for your wonderful blog.

I have had a lovely morning scrolling through my RSS feeds and catching up on all your blog posts.

Time gets away and then the opportunity for simple, special moments.

I was lucky enough to have a bit of time alone and I enjoyed reading all your posts.

I particularly enjoyed the originality of your work and the pleasant voice coming through.

Thank you!


Hope Clark said...

Thanks, Zak. Everyone needs so alone time to catch up and read something enjoyable. Thanks for sharing that time with me.