Why Writing?

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Nearly everyone who has ever picked up a pencil, dreams of earning a living writing. Not writing any old thing either. We want to share a story, or our knowledge on a topic, using our own personal voice. (If it was just the action of writing, we’d all be technical writers, where a full time job is not only a reality, but in high demand.)

Why though? Is it the creative release? If it’s just creativity why not something else? Why not expressing our own unique style through painting? Sketches? Making blankets? What is so darn special about writing that everyone wants to not only do it, but do it all the time. Why do people want to write for a living?

For me, writing for a living is a possibility. I’m good enough at writing short stories that between contests and publications, I at one point scraped by on words alone. (Not under this name. Sorry. I got married!) When I moved here, I actually prefered to get a real job and start playing with novels.

I like the process of writing more than anything else. When the process is over, there is nothing more for me in the story. I forget it and move on. When I’m writing a short story, I can finish a short story in as little as two weeks. For me, the process is over too quickly. There’s nothing to pick at anymore, and it takes something from me.

Maybe I’ll make a living at novels, but for now I’m happy the way things are.

You’ve probably been asked why you write. Now I’m asking you. Why writing?

The odds of publication…

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Today i spent my early morning procrastination watching this youtube video, in which Lev decides to write a book. I laughed, because I understand the problem he stumbled across, but it also made me think.

Are the odds of publication really that bad? (Yeah I know, the movie has nothing to do with publication and everything to do with writer’s block, but that’s what it got me thinking on. So there!)

We all read articles about rejection, but let’s take a minute and really think this over. Out of 7 billion people on the planet, about 7 billion have a story they want to tell. That’s a lot of competition, right? Maybe. Except for the fact that 25% of them are illiterate.

Whew! Just by the fact that you’re reading this, you’ve already managed to erase over a billion people from the publication race. Not bad eh?

Bur A.M. Kuska! I hear you cry, what about the remaining 5.25 billion people who can read? Well ask yourself this. How many of those 5 billion will ever pick up a pencil? How many will complete a rough draft? How many will submit to a critique circle? How many will admit their rough draft is somewhat less than perfect and rewrite? How many people actually send their manuscript out at all? Send it again when it’s rejected?

*crickets chirp*

I thought so. Even if we say an agent receives 100,000 query letters every year, it’s probably safe to assume some of those are badly formatted. Some were poorly worded. (Sorta like “The Family” from earlier, but less cool.) I’m sure one or two were addressed to Mrs. Bob, and some are rejected because their YA novel is 300,000 words long. When you cut out all these things…the odds start looking good.

The reality is, there aren’t enough manuscripts out there with good writing, good plot, and good editing. ^^ Yay!

Seriously though, while we can’t track these things, we do know that there are very few agents closed to submissions, which means there are still gaps to be filled.

Dear Coffee, I love you.

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Like most aspiring authors, I do not have a wealthy sponsor to tuck me away in a private villa while I work on my literary masterpieces. Writing must be fit around more mundane tasks, like for example going to work. For the record, I love my job. My boss is fantastic, my co-workers are people I’m willing to hang out with after work, and who wouldn’t love working with puppies all day long? The job isn’t the problem. It’s the whole concept of waking up in order to go to it.

What’s worse is, if I want to write, I have to get up even earlier. My least favorite part of the day? 6AM. My husband compares me to the robot from Wall-E before his batteries are charged. I remain that way until either a cold shower has blasted me into a vague sort of alertness, or I get a cup of coffee.

Guess which option is my favorite.

I’m currently nursing cup number two as I work on this post, and try not to think too hard on chapter three. (I know what needs to happen. I don’t know how to say it.) Coffee gets me going in the morning, and without it my writing would be drastically reduced. What do you do to give your writing a boost?

Handling Rejection

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When I first started writing, my biggest fear was on how I would handle rejection. I imagined myself opening my mailbox, my heart stabbing into my throat when I saw the letter. You know the one. The Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) with a reply from a publisher you solicited. You tear open the envelope, and there it is. Rejection.

I imagined my heart shriveling up, falling out of my chest, and landing irretrievably into a crack in the sidewalk. The pain would be too much for me to continue writing. I would walk away disillusioned and alone, never to write again. It was mostly the fear of not writing again that made me decide to never submit my work.

Then I realized just how stupid that was. I’m not going to stop writing even if law demanded it. I’d sneak into the basement just like every other writer in the universe, and keep right on doing what I did before.

So I submitted, and I got rejected, and it was the biggest relief in my life. Joy surged through me because–well–I didn’t care. The editor who rejected me had a very nice form rejection letter that managed to tell me no without insulting my writing or offending me in any way. I actually saved it, as well as all my other rejections because of how nice they are. No one has ever told me to get a life.

Actually, four people have handed me dollars and put my short stories (under a different name, don’t start peeking!) in print. I even took an honorable mention in a contest once. ^^

 So, having succesfully passed the rejection test, I stumbled on this blog post here. Keep in mind, this is just for a book review. O.O How out of control can you get?

 Then I found this youtube movie here. Which is at least funny. And Farris Literay Agency mentions rejection replies just like the ones above as a way to get rejected in this post here.

All in all, I’m horrified. Who in their right mind would reply that way to a rejection letter? Even assuming you had the best novel ever, no one would publish it because of the attitude that went along with it.

Agents: On behalf of all the (good) writers out there, I apologize. Most of us do understand it’s not personal.

Writers = Cannibals

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In 2007, an aspiring horror novelist was arrested on suspision of murder. Police found portions of his girlfriend all over his house, and a manuscript entitled, “Cannibalistic Instincts.”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not that dedicated in my research. If my character is going to rob a bank, I’ll stick to watching movies like Swordfish. I’m pretty proud of my ability to keep my diabolical plots where they belong: in fiction.

Unfortunately, I’m not so proud of myself when misfortune strikes those around me. If you show up on my doorstep, bleeding, I’ll pass out the band-aids and the comfort, along with a few questions.

“Stabbed yourself did you? With what? How bad does it hurt? What does it hurt like? Burning? Throbbing? Can you feel the flesh sliding around? What does that feel like? No don’t just say it hurts, tell me in detail. Oh, yeah. Doctor. Let me get my notebook–I mean the phone. Let me get my phone.”

I can’t be the only one who hugs a friend while simultaneously pondering how to put his/her emotional torment into word form. Time to fess up. Do you do it too?