Many people imagine the life of a writer is glamorous, well paid, and easy. Reality is pretty far from these ideas.
Glamorous? Well, maybe if I sat down to the computer every morning wearing a ball gown. Or if people mobbed me when I went out, clamoring for my autograph. But I don’t see that happening any time soon. I will say, though, that one of the bank clerks knows me by name when I walk in. Hey, that’s something, right?
As to being well paid…perhaps if I were Stephen King. But for me, an average royalty check is between $3-7. Might buy me a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. Maybe a donut, too! Hah.
What I want to know is, why does the bank clerk know my name? Are they all laughing at my teeny checks when I’m not listening?
As for being easy: show of hands here. When you were in high school and your teacher said, “I want you to write a paper,” how many of you jumped up and down in excitement? Hands? Anyone?
That’s what I thought. Writing is hard work. First, you have to have a topic (for non-fiction) or a plot line (for fiction). You need to do research and figure out how you want things to progress.
Next, you sit down with your idea and start writing. In addition to using your creativity until your brain starts smoking, you also need to have excellent spelling and grammar skills. It used to be a publisher would shepherd a writer along, fixing mistakes and problems. Now, there are a million would-be writers for every editor. (Do you like my 100% accurate figures?) So your manuscript has to be as perfect as possible BEFORE you turn it in.
Once you’re done with a first draft, you go through it word by word and fix what you did wrong, close holes in the plot, make sure there is continuity (like, is your hero called Dave in chapter one and Dan in chapter two?) When you think it’s perfect, you go through it again. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a first reader or critique partner, you redo it based on the suggestions of your writing buddy.
Next comes researching the markets, finding out which publishers would be a good fit for your manuscript. Once you’ve chosen the most appropriate ones, you find out their submission requirements and submit your manuscript.
Then you wait. And wait. And wait. Fortunately, in this electronic age, you don’t wait as long as with the snail mail era. But every day seems like an eternity.
If you’re accepted, you go through more editing, cover art, checking the proof, then getting the final book in your hot little hands. I confess, THIS part is really fun!
Then comes marketing. I’m not a social animal…most writers aren’t. So marketing can be agonizing, but it must be done. I actually did several book signings, and while they are stressful, it’s also interesting to see who wants to read what you write.
And then, before you know it, it’s time to start all over again with the next book.
Are we having fun yet?