Wednesday, November 25, 2009

10 myths about writers and writing continued...

5.Writers lead a fun life.
Actually, writing is tough and it involves many, many hours sitting in front of a computer screen when other people are having fun, watching TV, playing with the kids, socializing, or whatever.
If you think it is all wonderful book tours, getting to meet fascinating TV personalities who are begging to interview you, cocktail parties and lunches with publishers, think again.

For most of us, it also involves many hours of self doubt and despair.

My latest book is 625 pp. If I told you to read it from cover to cover once a week over the next 3 months for a total of 12 times, would you be overjoyed? I doubt it. That's what I will be doing over the next 3 months. Reading and correcting the same book, over and over. Fun, right?

(Actually, it is. But is is also a lot of solitary, lonely work. Will I ever stop? I doubt it. Writing is partly fun, but mostly it is fulfilling, rather than fun. And a writer's life is about as much fun as everybody else's. That is, it is sometimes. Fun is mixed in with work, despair, stress, woe, frustration - and sometimes joy.)

6. Published writers, publishers and agents hate wannabes and actively work to make sure they don't get published.

This is one of the most peculiar beliefs that I have come across on the internet. There are actually people out there who believe this. I know so many writers who spend much of their free time helping others for no remuneration that I wonder how anyone can credit this kind of nonsense...

The latest silliness I heard was that agents were the ones who wanted the Harlequin Horizons affair to fail because they thought it might impact their income. Or something. They didn't want writers to be able to circumvent agents... Huh???And the idea that publishers do their level best not to read good MSS from good new writer is even more laughable.

Other writers help me now, becoming beta readers, offering career advice - the list is endless.

7. Writing a publishable book is so easy anyone can do it.

You hear this one from time to time. "Oh, you are a writer? I've often thought if I had the time, I'd write a book too." (Tell me, do airline pilots and heart surgeons hear the same thing? "Oh, you're a heart surgeon! I've often thought I'd do an angioplasty on someone one day..." or ..."Oh, you're a commercial pilot!! I've often thought I'd fly an airbus to Europe one day. Just for the heck of it, when I have the time.")

8. Wanting to be a published writer badly enough will make it happen. Being persistent will make it happen. Wishing will make it happen. Reading The Secret will make it happen. Praying a lot will make it happen.

Er... no. Sorry. Being a skilled writer who tells good stories is what will lead you to publication. My advice:
  • Read a lot and widely, especially but not exclusively, in your chosen genre.
  • Practice writing.
  • Show your writing to fellow writers who will critique you.
  • Read widely about how to write your particular type of story.
  • Attend writing workshops or similar.
  • Read more. And more still.
  • Be persistence about all the above.
  • Then be persistent about sending out your MS to agents or publishers.
The last two is where the persistence comes in.

9. I would love to have $US 100 for every time someone has said this to me: "Oh, your book would make a good movie..."
Hmm. Possibly. Possibly not. It is certainly unlikely to happen. There are several hundred thousand books published every year. Just how many movies each year are based on books? And not all good books would make good movies anyway.

10. The goal is to get published
Maybe, but it shouldn't be. At least, only partially. The goal is to enjoy what you do. If that's your only goal - and you do get published - what's left to do?
.

1 comment:

Jo said...

And some of the books which were made into movies didn't work anyway. One of the classics in that field was Jean M. Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear. Didn't work at all.