Sunday, January 28, 2007

I choose NOT to believe ...

Okay, here's my naive post, and a little rant. I know I'm wrong, but ... here's the deal:

I want to write about why it's totally awesome to be published. I'm sick of hearing the opposite story. And you know what? I choose NOT to believe.

As you all know, I'm a pennies per word writer--for six years now--so although I know nothing about the "real" world of publishing, I do know something about sitting in the chair every week for 20 - 50 hours. I know something about writing when I don't feel like it, about writing under pressure, even about writing under deadline. I know Schedule C's and double-taxes and writing for money instead of your heart. I know the "pressure grows," but I've always thrived under pressure. I know that as a self-employed person, whatever it looks like you're paid, you really only get less than half after taxes and expenses.

I know nothing about agents--haven't even submitted to one yet. I know nothing about publishers, because I write for two small companies that are run like nice family businesses. One makes me feel good, the other one ... still is pretty cool. I know nothing about 'horrible' reader mail. I don't know anything about promotion. (Until recently, we didn't get royalties. Now that we do, I'm learning.)

I do know something about bad days. (Thank you, guys. You always cheer me up.) I even know something of backstabbing and conniving in the business, so it's not like I've only seen the pretty bits. (May I say that 99.9999999% of writers are THE BEST PEOPLE on earth?) I do my whining, but who doesn't whine a little, even about the best job?

And people who aren't published at all, yet? People who write day in and day out without reader love? Without money? With rejection, even? Ohmigod, they totally rock. I don't care what anyone says, they are the "real" writers. I don't think I would keep writing under those conditions. Who knows, but I don't think so. I know the 'party line' is 'I'd do it for me, for the love of it', but ...

I do love the written word. I also didn't write for six months when my publisher almost went out of business. (I was procrast--, er, researching ...)

But those writers are my heroes. I refuse to accept the current disdain professionals give to those who aren't paid for what they do. The Olympics used to be limited to amateurs for a reason, and it's because doing something for the love of it is a truly noble pursuit. I believe that with all my heart, and I admire anyone who writes for the love of it, and only for the love of it.

So. For all the writers who say it 'gets worse,' I respectfully say, "I choose NOT to believe." And if you're still around on the day that I get NY-published, and I start whining? Tell me to shut up and read this list.


  • 10. People read your stuff.
  • 9. People read your stuff--your stuff!--as entertainment.
  • 8. You get paid to make up shit. If you're still day-jobbing it, yeah, you work two jobs, but you also get a little extra cash. The first few checks feel like candy.
  • 7. You get something back from the writing process, something positive.
  • 6. You get to hold a book in your hand. You get to frame the cover. You get to sign it and give it to friends and family. You get to (if you're lucky) walk into your favorite bookstore and see your work. You even get to market and advertise your business. (I've always loved that aspect of my day job. I like growing businesses.)
  • 5. You get paid for your work, not for the time spent. Some people may say this is a drawback. I don't think so. I like working hard, and I like getting paid for the work I do. When I punched a time clock, I did double the work as others for the same pay. Not fair!
  • 4. Okay, people whine about pay. I make a little bit less than minimum wage when I figure in expenses, but I write quickly. Believe me, NY publishers pay better than what I get paid. I'm not saying they get rich at ALL. But they get paid more than I do.
  • 3. It's true that writing as a business isn't artsy-fartsy, BUT, it can be what you make of it. You can spend the rest of your life striving for excellence. There is nothing that feels better in your heart and soul than devoting yourself to excellence, to being the best you can be, day in and day out... to know that you can keep pushing yourself, and at the end of the day, look yourself in the mirror and feel really good. Even on the worst, most awful days, I feel good. (Note whine yesterday: I didn't write yesterday.)
  • 2. Reader email is totally freakin' awesome! I don't care what anyone says. Send me the worst! (But keep the best coming, please!)

    And the number one reason why it's awesome to be a writer, even if you're not NY-published? Even if you're not published at all?

  • 1. You get to hang out with writers for the rest of your life!

18 bonus scribbles:

Bernita 1/29/2007 08:17:00 AM  

A wonderful post, Spy!
Thank you.
If it's so bad and terrible and all so-soul-destroying, why haven't they all slit their wrists?

Elizabeth Krecker 1/29/2007 02:02:00 PM  

Nice! And hear, hear for the best line:

You get to hang out with writers for the rest of your life!

Avery 1/29/2007 02:19:00 PM  

And we fiction writers get to play make-believe for the rest of our lives. We get to do what five year-olds do, but our minds have no grow-up expiration date stamped on them. We get to be Peter Pan.

How damn cool is that?

spyscribbler 1/29/2007 05:43:00 PM  

LOLOL, The Insect and Erik.

Bernita, so true! I can sympathize, really, because I turned my day job from a hobby/passion and ruined it. But really ... get out it's horrible. And you know what? Newbies to the business should be allowed their thrill ride.

spyscribbler 1/29/2007 05:44:00 PM  

It's really cool, Avery! And Elizabeth, that was the first thing I said when I got home from my first writing conference. So cool!

Therese Fowler 1/30/2007 01:57:00 PM  

THIS is awesome.

I'm making an example of you, by linking this post on my blog.


spyscribbler 1/30/2007 02:26:00 PM  

Aww, shucks, Therese! I think I'm blushing, LOL.

Thanks! :-)

B.E. Sanderson 1/30/2007 02:44:00 PM  

Thank you. Sometimes it's just nice to hear, especially from someone who isn't related to you, or married to you, or one of your offspring.

I'll be linking to this post, too. I think it's important. Thank you again for writing it.

Karen Olson 1/30/2007 03:02:00 PM  

Great post. And I can so relate to it. I spent 15 years struggling, writing around the day job, to get that first book contract. And when I got my first check (okay, it wasn't huge, but it was a check), I finally could say, I get paid to write fiction. And nothing is better than that.

spyscribbler 1/30/2007 08:33:00 PM  

Thanks, B.E.! I just wanted to get it out there, so I'll always remember and be grateful.

Thanks, Karen! Wow. You are my new hero! And I think it's SOOOOOo cool that you got your first check the same week as me!! Yay!

Nichola 1/31/2007 09:24:00 AM  

I don't get it. If it's so great to be published, why are unpublished writers who do it for the love of it your heroes?

spyscribbler 1/31/2007 10:20:00 AM  

Because I'm a Libra, Nichola. :-)

Also, because they keep writing without the little rewards of money or, sometimes, readers. They are my heroes because they keep writing in the face of rejection. And because I'm on a quest to take the word 'amateur' back to its noble roots.

But mostly because I think they are better than me, more determined, and stronger.

There are stages to this writing game, and every single one is worthy of respect.

Patry Francis 1/31/2007 11:38:00 AM  

The perfect thing for me to read the day before my first novel appears on shelves--

Sign me, Very Gratefully Yours--

Nichola 1/31/2007 12:28:00 PM  

Ah, now I see! ;)

I'm one of the noble unpublished. However, I fully intend to sell out at the first opportunity and make squillions of quid for my first published novel, have a book tour and spend lots of £££ on chocolate. A girl can dream, right?

Now - back to work for me. :D

spyscribbler 1/31/2007 05:36:00 PM  

Patry, I love your cover! Congratulations on your release, and good luck!

Nichola, chocolate makes everything worthwhile. :-) Why else would one want squillions of quid, if not to buy chocolate???

Good luck!

Trevor Underwood 4/17/2008 04:50:00 AM  

Fantastic post. I write for the love of it, although I would not say no if someone insisted on making me a millionaire....:-)