February 28, 2006 | Writing
Wow! I haven’t blogged in a while. I apologize. I’ll be back on schedule this week. I’ve been busy cleaning my house from top to bottom. Scrubbing the toilets til they shine, ironing, cleaning the ceiling fans, cleaning grout, cooking four course meals every evening for my husband and son. NOT!!! That was a wicked nightmare. I can see dust balls from my desk, probably write a scene in dust accumulated on my bookcases, and as for cooking, well let’s just say we have a wide variety of takeout menus. Market Day is my best friend. I did go to lunch with a friend of mine, and I ordered ribs to go for my son. That was his Friday night dinner, so it was all good. JMan, my son, and I have been playing a lot of tennis lately. Now, it’s boys tennis season, and all tournaments cease until May.
What I have discovered is, writing is a career. Well, gee Yamine, you might say, didn’t you know that when you started writing? Hell no! I didn’t! When I say writing is a career, I mean a full time job. When I first started writing seriously, and if I reread some of my writing from years ago, I just might cry, laugh, or take a used care salesperson job. I thought all I had to do was write the best story I could, find an agent, and just keep writing more books. How naive, how simple, how absolutely beautiful. Reality is, any pursuit takes much more than just the initial, “I want to write a book.” Maybe, once a upon a time, writing worked like that, but not now.
Writers are independent contractors. We are responsible for everything, from the first word on paper, to author signings, and beyond. We have to know copyright laws, in addition to point of view. We have to know about goals, motivation, and conflict as well as pitch to an agent, and how to stay away from agents who don’t know what they’re doing. We are in business for ourselves. We are the boss, employee, accountant, therapist, public relations expert, and editor all rolled into one. And if one of us is having a bad day, all of us is having a bad day. We could complain about the boss, but hey, that means looking in the mirror and trying not to get that look on your face a real employer would have. “Here she comes again. Whining about how her characters are out of control, not listening to her. She needs more time to edit her book, she’s stuck on the middle section, and can’t seem to get a minor character to stop hogging the page. Gee, she thinks I’m going to help her, I’ve got my own problems. I’ll just smile, and tell her to stick with it. She’s doing a great job, and she’ll come up with solutions, and I’ll remind her about her deadlines.”
We have to manage our time, and give up playing solitaire on the computer. It does not count as research, or relaxation. We set goals, reset them, and then reset them again. At the end of the year, we perform our own job evaluation. Now, this is when real fictional writing comes in.
It’s not that I’m totally daunted by this realization. It means I better understand that writing is the career I’ve chosen. In order to be successful, I have to hunker down and act like it’s my job. I once went to work for a national youth advocacy group. My first assignment was a conference. I had no idea what they were talking about. I was so confused, upset, and scared. Were they going to discover I was a fake, a flake, a fish out of water? I called a friend, and he told me I didn’t get the job because I was stupid. I got the job because I was the best candidate, smart and I’d learn the lingo. He gave me confidence. I returned to the conference, took notes, got to know people, kept my mouth shut, and listened. I learned, and in a couple of months, I was performing my job. Writing has taken longer, it’s a learning experience every day. It’s my career.
What steps have you taken to make writing your career?
Me go first. I have an office. Actually, it’s our living room, but I don’t want living room furniture. Who sits in it? Everyone’s in our family room or basement. It is my writing space. I have a three panel screen blocking the front entrance. I have writing hours, and behave just like I did when I worked at the bank. I have a lunch break. I have a Starbucks run, and yes I take care of personal business while at work – just like everyone else.