How to Finally Admit that You are a Writer

If you’re reading this you’re probably an author, or at least you want to be. I bet you have wondered how you get there.

How do you go from wanting to be a writer to being an author with your name on the cover of a book?

How do you get to wear one of those t-shirts that says “Ask Me About My Book – Published Author.”  Don’t you need to know what you’re doing? Don’t you need a college education? Don’t you need a history of writing projects?

In my journey, I found that admitting and believing that I was a “real” writer was the first hurdle to overcome on this road to authorship that I unexpectedly found myself traveling on in life.

I mean, I didn’t have a fancy university diploma framed on my wall.

I was a blogger, and I’d only been doing that for several years. The rest of my life before that I wrote in journals now and then when I found it helpful. That was my experience and knowledge. The one thing I kept hearing all the time from others was that I had talent.

How to Finally Admit that You are a Writer

“You’re a good writer. You should write a book”, they said. 

Though half the time I wasn’t sure I believed them. After all, what did they know?! They weren’t a professional anything anymore than I was. Even after I had two book projects in progress and a couple of blogs, getting great response, I still didn’t think of myself as a real writer.

There were a couple of things that helped me to go from this state of mind to finally saying to other people “I am a writer.” And, as of December 1st, 2014 I can finally say to others “I am a published author.”

The first thing was reading a book called “If You Can Talk You Can Write” by Joel Saltzman. I learned from this book to stop worrying about the “proper” way to say things, or editing as I went along, and to just write down the words that were in my head.

Read the whole article here.

Why Write?

I think this question has been asked to every author at every book signing, literary event and convention since time immemorial.

But it is an honest inquiry.

Why do authors choose to do this? What was the first spark? 

Personally, I started writing when I was a kid. I remember going to the movies and left wondering what happened after the lights came up. Did they all really live happily ever after? What about the bad guys? Did the surviving ones see the error of their ways?

So, I dabbled, keeping a handful of journals just to get the thoughts onto paper. Wrote on my high school newspaper, working in movie reviews and opinions primarily.

But it wasn’t until writing a satirical column about the mind controlling powers of Cabbage Patch Kids that I found my true calling in the world of fiction. (Sadly, the local newspaper did not print the article, but the editor gave me some very good advice: Don’t stop.)

I didn’t stop, but I did put my writing on hold. It wasn’t until I read the final book in a somewhat successful YA series, which will remain nameless, and after suppressing the urge to throw said book across the room for crappy story telling and ridiculous character choices, I decided to write my own story.

Why Write Authors

We read something that sparks our interest and decide, “You know? I don’t think ‘insert-character-name-here’ should’ve gone into that room. If I were writing their story…”

And so it begins. But creating a unique perspective on a well-known concept is the true test of any aspiring wordsmith. We all know about good v. evil, we know the bad guys will get their comeuppance or mend their ways.

But there has to be more than that. It’s in the shades of good and evil that we find the truly interesting characters. Our heroes need vices and our villains must have some redeeming qualities.

Read the whole article here.

From The Editor’s Desk

After graduating from high school I went directly to a job in the newsroom of the Vancouver Sun, one of the city’s big daily newspapers. It was a dream come true.

“I wanted to be a crime reporter” and the thrill of being accepted as a copy runner (that is, an apprentice reporter, nowadays called an ‘intern’ which back then meant someone studying to be a doctor).

I was the only girl ‘copy-boy’ working with one or two other young fellows who had the same dreams and aspirations as me.

We’d stand at our post in the center of the big newsroom amidst the sound of clacking typewriters and bustling reporters busy at their desks banging out the day’s news.

When one would shout “COPY!” I scurry as fast as I could to grab the sheaf of 8” x 6” newsprint on which the story was typed and race over to the editor’s desk.

From The Editor's Desk

The editor would take it, scribble a few things, and minutes later yell “COPY!” and the paper would be picked up from the editor, rolled inside a tube and shoved into a pipe-like gadget that would suck it up to the composing room where the story would be typeset for printing.

“What a thrilling time it was!”. The reporters were exciting characters to be around, all of them smoking up a storm, their coffee cups not always full of pure coffee (Often we’d discover bottles of whiskey stashed in the coke machine or filing drawers).

In the midst of deadline they could be furious as angry lions and we didn’t dare tarry when they shouted “COPY!”.

Once deadline was over, things would settle down, and often there were parties in the newsroom. Sometimes buckets of fresh oysters would appear, and plates of goodies and cases of beer. Even the lowly copy-runners were invited to join in.

One of the top women writers on the news desk wanted to train me for her job taking police calls and following up the stories. But the news editor wouldn’t hear of it and eventually I was encouraged to take a position in the news library.

That proved interesting, because I was put in charge of the crime files and bios. And in the news library I honed my research skills.

“Now, years later I find myself working as a full-time writer. What is also interesting is that these days, because of my own travel website, TRAVEL THRU HISTORY  I am sitting on the other side of the desk in the chair of the editor.”

This week I’ve been spending quite a lot of time editing stories for my website and editing my own work, or stories from the people in the writing classes that I teach. It’s interesting being on the other side of the desk, wearing the editor’s hat.

Now I understand why editors are strict about the submissions they receive, and how easy it is to get your work rejected if you are not careful to submit ‘clean copy’.

I used to wonder, when I was a kid back in the newsroom, exactly what ‘clean copy’ meant. It didn’t mean a piece of copy paper with no coffee stains or cigarette burns. It means a piece of work well written, with a strong lead, informative body and satisfactory conclusion; no spelling errors; tight sentences; clear writing.

Writers must learn to edit and send ‘clean copy’ to our editors/publisher.

Never send a first draft, it will only get rejected. And accept the suggestions that are offered to you for improving your work. It’s a learning process, all part of being a writer.

Read the whole article here.