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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Give it the ol' college try.

I'm going to piggy-back off of Stacy's blog post about self-sabotage and the demon that is the white page. I too have been contemplating the reason so many people are unable to make it happen. When you describe yourself as a writer, I think people take it about as seriously as if you had said, "Well, I'd really like to run off and join a circus someday. Perhaps as a full-time elephant handler or bearded lady." They usually blink at you, tilt their heads to the side and say, "Oh, that's nice." (subtext: "You must have a rather tenuous grasp on reality, my dear.")

My sister hopes to be an actress and she gets a similiar reaction. It's almost as if you say, "I hope to jump really hard until I get to the moon."

The thing is, in my opinion, there are three things needed to "make it". You can be reasonably successful with one of the three, but if you have all three, you're a guarantee. You WILL be living in a nice house with an entourage and three Siamese cats and a purse dog named Lady Snickerdoodle who's described on her papers as a Maltese Yorkiedoodletzu.

1.) Talent. Yep, some published people don't have it. Lots of writers don't. I know what you're thinking. You've got have talent to make it, don't you? Hmm. Not really. Maybe some. I mean, you have to have the ability to string words together to make a complete sentence I guess. You also have to have concrete ideas. But let's face it, some writers who have stuff out there really kind of suck. I'm not going to name names, but I'm sure you've picked up a published book and gone, " twelve-year old Jersey Shore-watching cousin could do this." Whoever wrote the book simply didn't have the talent element to the three-part triangle that makes you something special.

2.) Timing. You might be a freaking genius with the best idea ever, but if the world isn't ready for it, then few people are going to bite. This is probably the most frustrating part because it requires patience and an actual business sense, which few of us writer folk really have. We like to throw it out there into the abyss and see what happens. J.K. Rowling made it because the world was waiting for Harry Potter. It had been a long time since a youthful fantasy book had really taken the world by storm. Also, the world might be tired of you. Stephenie Meyer wasn't aware that the world was hungry for more vampires, but she sure cashed in on that. However if you write about vampires now, cynics like me are going to start folding our arms and tapping our shoes. There will come a point when vampires will lose the spice. So you have to be on that perfect cusp where the world wants you badly and hasn't had a lot of things like you yet. If you write a fiction book about how a shellfish has an adventure between the threads of time, planet Earth may simply not be in the market for that kind of a thing yet. But wait. The shellfish will have their time someday.

[Accessibility goes with timing. If you write on a subject nobody cares about, then people aren't going to be interested. If you are so smart that nobody gets what the heck you're trying to say, then the waiting masses aren't going to beat down your door for an autograph and a mentorship. I don't care if you have a doctorate. Sorry.]

3.) Work Ethic. Some really talented people have an awesome idea that's going to seduce the masses. These same tormented artists also refuse to edit, revise, ask for feedback and go through the painful query process. This is a crying shame too because I'm positive that people have heaps of genius gathering dust on their desktops or taking up space on their hard drives and nobody will ever get to witness the magic because they just don't have it in them to undergo the grueling process getting published requires. Social networking, rejection, ripping your own baby apart to please enough people, selling it, marketing it, packaging it, bargaining for it, waiting in lonely corners at bookstores at the beginning when 2.5 people have heard and care about your work...the list goes on even after success. So people who are unwilling to consider this a job and therefore WORK to get there...will simply never get there. Nobody is handed success on a silver platter. Except Paris Hilton.

So there you go. That's my personal formula for ultimate success. You don't need all three to get published, but you need all three to be a successful writer with a legitimate career in the business. But again, this is in my opinion only. And as you know, opinions are like earholes...everybody has them but few use them correctly...or something like that.


  1. True, and perfectly said!!! I will go back to twitter and steer more people here. I have been meaning to write a pragmatic blog on writing as a career--and had a very similar short list of essentials. Now I won't have to write it for a while. Thanks!!

    Yay for honesty and clarity. I hope your writing goes well and the words fly out. (So that you have PILES to edit and rewrite.)

  2. Thank you for visiting our site Kathleen! So nice to meet fellow writers!



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