General thoughts on being a writer…the life of a writer…
I received a letter this week (a real letter delivered with a stamp, which was sorta weird and exciting in this age) from a fan who was also a kid, maybe 12 or 14. I don’t know, just guessing at his age. He had read one of my books and can’t get it out of his mind. Which is also weird but really nice. Not that wrote to talk about my book. No. Not really.
The letter was filled, dripping, soggy with desire…to be a writer. And it made me think and remember my own teenaged writer’s angst.
One paragraph in his letter read, “Still, though, I need your help. I don’t know where to begin. I can think a story’s details in my mind, but can’t make it complete. I mean, there are so many factors to consider in the details, for example, how graphic should I make it? I am asking as a young apprentice to a master writer, please help me.”
Master writer…me? No way. But, to him I had reached a pinnacle of success in my chosen field. I had gotten published, and I was a good writer, and most importantly, I was…in!
Being a commercially published writer—as seen from the outside looking in—might seem a bit like…um…a secret club with a big sign nailed to the door, Keep Out! Like a Boys Only Club, where the girls aren’t allowed. At least that is the way I remember it being and feeling. Left out, kept out, of a club with a secret handshake and pass words and all sorts of cool stuff I wanted to—needed to, craved to—learn, and had no earthly way of doing so. The desire to be a writer was so intense and concentrated and passionate it that seemed a live thing crawling under my skin and through my brain, full of demands and hungers I simply could not satisfy. Not yet. Not then.
Another way of looking at it was the writing life was a spiritual place I knew about, desired, aspired to, but where I was not permitted to be. As if an angel with a flaming sword stood in front of the door, barring the way. And I wanted in!
The life of writer is still like both of those to me—a club where I am finally a member, and a spiritual place, a place where I am uplifted, cast down, filled with joy and success, or dumped on with guilt or failure. I soooo love this life. And oddly, now that I am here, it isn’t a populated world like I expected it to be. It’s a world of solitude, a club of one, a spiritual place like an empty cathedral with sunlight streaming in through multicolored stained-glass windows, but no music, no choir, not even a priest.
Here at magicalworkds.net, we’ve been working on early stuff—prepublication info and how-to info that makes most UnPub writers salivate with excitement, this glimpse into the writer’s world. We want to help. Why? Because, I think we four all remember how it felt to be on the outside, to be driven, obsessed maybe, with the need to write, write, write! And Be Published!
And yet we know that any help we offer still isn’t enough. We four writers can’t make an PuPub’s pathway any easier, because each one has to blaze his own trail, just as we did, through uncharted territory, on a path no one has ever walked before. We can ask questions, answer questions, show some of our journey, but ultimately each writer is on his own, as we were on our own, lost and hoping and knowing that far-off place was there, just out of reach. We care. We cheer you on. But we can’t walk the path for you.
This was my woowoo blog of 2008. I’ll get back to practical matters next week.