Thursday, August 13, 2009

So, you want to be a writer?

Apparently, yes.

But, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Rather, lets start at the best place - the beginning.

Basically, for no rhyme nor reason, I woke on an ordinary Sunday morning in December 2008, turned to my husband and declared.... 'I think I'm going to write a book.'
He is quite used to me going on tangents, smiled indulgently and went back to sleep.
This was a first for me though. I had never really thought of writing a book. Reading them, yes please. Writing them, hmmmm, not so much.
But I took my laptop out, placed it on the kitchen table and started to tap away... and before I knew it, I had been going for 5 hours straight.
I'd never been happier.
I was going to be a writer... wasn't I?

Writing soon became my obsession. Originally, I kept it to myself, scared that it might be a passing flight of fancy (I have had these before... refer husbands response above). But, I never waivered and every chance I got, I wrote.
I remember so clearly being overwhelmed when I reached 15,000 words.
15,000 words!
I remember when I reached 40,000 words.
40,000 words!
I was half way there.
I remember when I reached 80,000 words.... and there was still more to come, the story was not yet over, it was still pouring forth.
I was going to be a writer... wasn't I?

But could I write.
I thought so... but then I may be biased.
So, off I sent it to a girlfriend, she loved it. I almost cried when she told me.
For 31 years I wondered what my special God given talent was (apart from being highly amusing) ... what was I truly good at? Could this be it... could this be my thing?
Time to send it to my harshest critic, a blood tie - my sister... who is also an editor.
I still have the email from her... I look at it when I feel like I can't anymore, that I'm kidding myself, that I have as much talent as a chimpanzee with a pencil.
It says, 'Sis, I'm so proud of you... I'm popping the champagne already.'
Later, she said it needs work... bless her... but the bones were good.
I was going to be a writer... wasn't I?

And then, on 12 July 2009 at 9.20pm, I put the last word of the last chapter down. I had finished my book.
Holy fuck!
I had actually finished a whole, entire novel. With a beginning, middle and end. A full story.
And my husband was in bed, I was alone, it was a Sunday night in sleepy New Zealand.
The best I could do was post my achievement on Facebook.
I got a barrage of replies... I still have them.
So the book is finished.
I was going to be a writer... wasn't I?

I'm editing as we speak. It's slow. Really slow.
How did Stephanie Meyer bang out 'Twilight' in 6 months?
How, how, how?
She's a legend, that's how.
Amazing story... I am green with envy. But I doubt that I would have written that story down if I had dreamt it anyway. I probably would have thought, 'That was one freaky arsed dream' and moved on. So touche Stephanie, tou-frecken-che! I hope to meet you one day, have a yarn about it.

So, turns out that the writing part (which involves copious amounts of sweating, grinding your teeth, scratching your head, sore wrists and fingers, stiff buttocks, sleepless nights, trashing yourself, your novel and your talent, some crying, eating (too much) eating (some more), lots of tea, lots of coffee, irritation with yourself, your loved ones, your friends, bus drivers, motorists, that random guy in your building plus crippling self doubt) is the easy part.
Yes, the easy part!
It's getting published that's the bitch. The sort of bitch who is simultaneously pre-pubescent, pre-menstrual, sexually frustrated, menopausal and gagging for some chocolate. NOW!
Fun times it seems.
But, I was going to be a writer... wasn't I?

You know what.... I have no frecken idea.
Let's look at the stats for a minute.
We'll start with New Zealand (because i did)... we have a total of 5 (yes, as in singular) literary agents. In the whole country.
I tried 2... neither of which were taking on new clients.
The recession, you know.
But both were lovely.
One even gave me an analogy of literary agents being like a highway and writers the cars entering an on ramp... often there are just to many cars trying to get onto the highway. Which leaves congestion. And pollution. And bad feelings all round. (I ad libbed there a bit)
So now I am looking at the UK and USA...
And freaking out. I'm not even sure why.
Maybe because I really want to write and I am scared shitless that I'm not good enough. That my dream will be shattered into a million pieces and I will just be another nobody, aimlessly wondering through life, wondering if this is it. (Secretly, I think even if I was a famous writer, I would still feel that way... but at least I could write about it and bore others).
Or maybe it's because of the tiny, minute, almost non-existent percentage of writers a year that get picked up. Probably a combination.

But, god damn, I really want to be a writer.
A real one, the type that puts 'writer' on applications that ask for 'Occupation'.
I don't even have to be the next JK Rowling (although, that would be nice). Or the next Helen Fielding (not bad either). I just want to be able to write full time, say 'Call my agent' and have a kick arse, amazingly talented editor to guide me and give me advice. Make me an even better writer. It's not like I'm asking for world peace or the cure to cancer here.
I just want to be published, have plenty of guidance and maybe a book signing or three. With at least one interested person there who isn't lost. And looking for the toilets.

So, that is it.
My book is finished, I'm editing as we speak and I'm too scared to send a query letter.
A bit of a stalemate. But it has to get done.
And now that you are here, you will hold my hand, wipe my tears and make sure I do this.
Because, well, I am a writer and that's what we do.

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