Just Keep Writing - A Writer's Lament - A Piece Of My Mind
Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for?
Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.
~ Jessamyn West:
You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.
~ Ray Bradbury
When I did a workshop a few years ago, during a break, I remember a few writers seemed out of sorts. They were bantering between themselves. Some of it was because they received publisher rejection letters or emails. A few were harping on non-supportive family members and friends who told them they would not have a career as a writer. This news hit many of them hard.
We came back from the break, “See if you've heard this expression before: "Why don't you get a real job? You never will succeed as a writer!" This was met with horror and dismay on their faces. I continued on "My late father used to say that to me all the time. I hate to say this, but it inspired me to write more than take his put-downs."
Many families have a naysayer suggesting you should leave your dream of writing as a career. Or like my mom, seeming to want to post every article I write on the refrigerator like I was two with a childish finger painting.
Note, writing is a career where you must love it to do it. Each and everyone in the world can write. However, it takes true talent to string ideas together and make it a complete thought. I told someone once that writing is my job and my mistress. I even used to have a sign on my desktop PC calling her 'Mistress Electrica'.
My friend Michele sent an article she wrote to an editor friend of hers. To quote him, according to her description of me in her query Letter “Bennet thinks I'm crazy to write this stuff ... BUT he says that I am a semi-decent writer who needs a good edit."
Many writers who stop writing, declined in their creative ideas. What I have noticed is many efforts are lost because many writer's spirits are drowned in self-doubt.
Michele once told me at a book show. "You seem to be the only one that thinks I'm such a fantastic writer, Bennet. Are you sure you're not biased?” Am I biased toward her? Nope, not at her nor anyone. If I don't like it, I WILL TELL YOU.
When someone does good writing, I think they should know that it was good work. It does not matter if you are Elizabeth Black, Melody Ravert, Lindsay Downs or Tom Clancy. We have an idea and churn it out until it is honed. When it is published, whether if it is self-published or by a publishing house, it is still published.
Writers are like actors, we do our gig (by being published, it does not matter where) and unless you are Stephen King, we need to prove ourselves over and over, time and time again. It's the "What have you done for me lately" syndrome. You must remember that being a writer is a career of heartache, loneliness and despair. For every good writer who is published, ten are turned away. I know the horror stories, I am one of them myself.
In this last year, writing as a career has been put under a fine microscope. Within the last few years, a published writer and veteran newscaster has taken to lying about their autobiographical memories. Others have taken other author's work, reprinted their work with minor changes and called it their own. One best-selling writer was sued because a few thoughts of his research that others also used was copied into his best-selling novel . . . Note he has been sued not once, but four times by other authors. Because of this, it is becoming harder to get the breaks we used to have.
Let me say this, writing is hard work. Do not assume you or anyone else gets a pass. It does not happen. Those that think it's easy have never really written on a deadline or tried to live within a word count. Those who try to eek out a living putting pen to paper and succeeding, I congratulate you.
Too many writers have their work placed in a back closet, a file drawer or (dare I say) on their computer hard drive NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN! All of these talented writers are afraid of one thing...REJECTION!
I have a friend who lives in Woodbridge, VA. He is a farmer by trade. Ten years ago, he decided to start write short stories and novellas part time in a large spare barn that he converted into an office. When he amassed a stack of rejection notices, he glued them to the wall with epoxy like wall paper. He has taken to copy the email rejections notes as well. When an article was accepted for publication. He photo copied the article (and sometimes the check), framed it in a black picture frame and posted it above the glued rejections on the wall. His spare barn, or as he calls it, my writer’s wall of shame, covers his barn office, floor to ceiling. On this barn office wall you can see rejection letters from magazines as diverse as Ladies Home Journal, Playboy, Reader's Digest, Science Fiction Age, Sonic Boom, Travel Monthly and O (Oprah) magazine. He told me once, "The rejection wall keeps me on track. I remember all the small wins and keep plugging at the craft of writing."
So when you are in a funk about the next rejection note or naysaying family member, just keep writing. As Ray Bradbury once said "fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for. And you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."
I cannot say if my words hit home or made a difference. I just hope it did.
Until Next time, reach for the stars.
Columnist: Bennet Pomerantz has covered the Audio medium for the last 20 years. He has syndicated newspaper columns, AUDIOWORLD and "Movies of Your Mind", in Affaire De Coeur Magazine. In which he showcase his vast and diverse knowledge of the spoken word medium.
He is also known as a media review critic (books, music, graphic novels, DVDs, CDs) in his weekly syndicated newspaper column "A Piece of the Page". He also is a ranked media reviewer for Amazon.com. http://www.facebook.com/bennet.pomerantz1 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org