Tuesday, 17 September 2013

What is a Writer?

I was clearing out my email inbox the other day, reading through blog emails about writing that had languished there for weeks when one of them caught my attention.
It was from RoW80, a year round event that I have mentioned before. It was all about remembering to have fun with writing again. And then this bit jumped out at me.

Write yourself a letter or a list about why you started writing—include what drew you in, what you love most about it, why you want to write.  Keep this someplace where you can see it and read it often to remind yourself that you love this work.”

I realised that in my focus on finishing a novel and figuring out how to publish it when I did eventually finish it I’d forgotten what I loved about writing. I’d lost sight of what brought me to writing in the first place, why I kept pushing despite never finishing or publishing anything. I’d gotten so caught up in being able to call myself a writer that I’d forgotten the joy it in, the excitement and pure love that I had felt as I first put those words down on a page. So I decided that I would take the suggestion from the post and try it out, try and see if it helped me find the fun in writing again. That's why at some point this month I'll be writing a post all about why I'm a writer.

Then I moved on to another email, and saw something similar. It was a link in an email from Joanna Penn of TheCreativePenn.com to an article another writer had written about the difference between career writers and ‘one-book writers’ as she called them. The entire thing made me question what exactly I wanted from writing. More importantly it made me question what kind of writer I wanted to be;

The one-book writer

“The one-book writer wants to be published, to maybe have a book hit a bestseller list or win an award, to be legitimately called a writer who has credentials....”

The Career writer

“The Career Writer is in this for the long haul. She has dozens if not hundreds of books in her. She wants to make a living – a good living – from writing those books.... this writer wants to spend her life telling stories and/or sharing information”
Now at one point I was probably the first kind of writer, the one-book writer, who wanted to see my name in a book in bookstores. Now though I want to make a living out of writing. The thing is though, if you read the rest of the post that this comes from, I’m not sure if I’m at the level of being a career writer. I’m getting there, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not there. Yet.

I hope to be one day though and in the meantime, while I’m writing and editing I’ll also learn what I need to learn about the writing business. After all, the world of publishing is forever changing and growing and the traditional publishing houses seem slow to catch up. I can figure out what is best for me as a writer and how I can make my dreams happen.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

A New Job and a Favourite Podcast

I meant to write a new post, really I did. I promised several posts, different series of articles that I’m still in the middle of working on. And I intended to finish them and post them. But things happened. Life happened. 

A new job happened.

That’s right! After two years of being mostly unemployed except for a couple of freelance gigs and a brief stint as a temp I am now fully employed doing a job I surprisingly enjoy.

I say surprising because every time I’d had a job before I’ve gotten fed up, longing for days off and planning ways to get away from work early. With this job though I’m not doing that, far from it in fact. I mean sure I might daydream about falling ill and coming home but that’s purely on the commute, when I’m fed up of switching buses and walking through crowds of people who think that because they’ve got nowhere to be urgently the rest of us don’t either. Once I get to work though it’s a different matter and before long it’s time for lunch and I’m left wondering how the time managed to go by so quickly.

I think part of the reason that I’m enjoying my new job so much, despite the long commute and occasional odd smell, is that it’s not boring. There are aspects of it that can be boring and that I dread doing, don’t get me wrong, but those pass quickly and I never know exactly what crisis I’m going to be dealing with next. I like routine, really I do, but too much routine is bad for me and I find myself sinking deeper and deeper into that black pit of depression that I dread. With this job I have both. There’s the routine of I come in, I have my before work cigarette (no I’ve still not quit that habit just yet) and then I start work, dealing with whichever urgent thing is happening that day. I then take lunch at about 12ish before continuing the morning’s tasks until I leave for the bus at 4:30, tired and a little brain sore but over-all, content.

Best of all the commute, while long, is perfect for listening to several podcasts that I’ve been meaning to listen to for ages. I’ve just never had the time before. Here in England it’s considered bad form to talk to people on the bus unless you know them, have been talking to them at the bus stop or they’re just one of those people who talk to anyone who will listen. So the morning and afternoon bus rides are filled with strangers, all staring resolutely ahead, focused on getting home. Ergo, podcasts.

One podcast series in particular that I’m currently really enjoying, even if it does make me laugh and earn some very disapproving looks from total strangers, is the Self Publishing Podcast. The guys who do it are funny and informative. They tell you things about the self-publishing world, like Amazon’s serialisation program or KDP Select that you might never have known about before. They give potential indie authors the hope and strength and belief that they can make an actual living from their writing. Most importantly they stress quality of work over quantity, even if two of them do work together to put out a short book each week as part of a serial.

Kind of like this
(Image found via google from The Analogous Truth )
I think the greatest thing about this podcast though is that these guys are talking from experience. They’re sharing what they’ve learnt, the problems that they’ve had and the successes with whoever will listen instead of hoarding it for themselves like some weird little Gollum type creature. 

They want people to succeed, they want people to self-publish and they want to help them do it right. They don’t care about the money, in fact they flat out refuse to discuss money outside of broad terms or jokes. Their focus is on the quality of the writing and the book.

And while they’re doing all this they’re managing to make you laugh. They talk about boring subjects, or subjects that have the potential to be so, so boring and yet they manage to make it interesting and entertaining. And for that I love them and their podcast. They make me start my day with a smile and keep me laughing on the bus to work.

I am going to be sad when I’m all caught up on their podcasts though.

Thank god they do another one but that’s one I’m going to talk about when I’ve actually listened to it.

Do you have any podcasts that you like to listen to? Let me know and I'll check them out.