“Being” a Writer

I think I’ve stated a billion times over the course of my life (from about 10 onward) that my dream is to publish a novel. I want to “be” a writer.

I can remembering being 10 years old, sitting down at my white desk with a stack of lined papers and a pencil, writing my “latest novel”. It was about a girl, her best friend (who resembled my best friend at the time), and their horses. They would go on trail rides together and end up having adventures.

I can remember being 15, my writing station set up on the refurbished laptop my parents bought me specifically for my love of writing, typing up my novel about the teenage girl dealing with high school and having Multiple Hereditary Exostoses (I still want to write that one day; for my boys).

Those were the two novels that I worked so diligently on. I lost them, over time, along with the thousands of short stories I’d written. Growing up, moving, having that old refurbished laptop crap out on me 20 chapters in, the death of floppy discs, just time at work.

I wish I had even just one story from back then, so I could read it and just remember how dedicated I was about my writing.

Then I grew up, and I started doubting myself. I’m not a good writer, I’d think. What’s the point. I’d throw away entire chapters if one thing didn’t turn out.

It’s also been an incredibly busy 5 years. I met Matt, we got pregnant with Nolan, we got engaged, we moved in to our first apartment together, we had Nolan, we moved, we moved again — this time, up north to live with his dad and stepmom. We got married, Matt started school, we got pregnant a second time, Matt graduated college, we had Archer, and we moved back home.

Needless to say, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to write…especially when Archer joined our family. I hadn’t really been thinking about writing either. At least, not as obsessively as I once did. Not until recently. Now, every waking (and sometimes, dreaming) thought that isn’t the kids or Matt is writing. Truthfully, sometimes it’s right above them. When can I squeeze in some time to write? During Archer’s nap? When I ship the kids outside to play? After they’re in bed?

It’s now my prominent goal. Write something, anything. Keep writing. Keep dreaming.

There are naysayers, I’ve heard anonymous comments (on my tumblr — surprise surprise. Such a place of negativity, tumblr is…) about how my dreams of becoming a writer are “a joke”. I “have poor grammar” and I “can’t spell”.

I laughed at that. I guess nobody told E.L. James that if you had poor grammar, you couldn’t write. Write she did, and she’s famous. Even if I don’t like the 50 Shades series, I’ve got to give her credit. She achieved her dreams. She’s got a best selling book series, and likely movies in the works (seriously…HOW will that work? Is it going to be an adult film or?).

I’m veering off topic here.

Anyways. I think two of my biggest issues when it comes to this whole writing business are:

1) Finding the time and keeping my train of thought. Seriously. So hard to do with two littles constantly underfoot, being all cute and distracting with their cuteness. Remembering plots and characters and — what was I saying again??

2) Taking myself seriously. It’s been a dream of mine to answer people’s prying questions of “what do you do for a living” with “I’m a writer“. But every time I go to answer with that, I stop myself. Am I a writer? I write things. I am constantly working on writing projects (well, now. Again). Are you a writer in that sense, or do you have to be published to be a writer? If your projects rarely see the light of day, or if they are just getting the breath of life, does that make you a writer? Or are you an aspiring writer? Do you answer with “I am an aspiring writer”? So, I need to start taking myself seriously, and taking my writing seriously. I just have no clue how to do that.

To my fellow writers out there; do you have any tips for a — an aspiring writer?

Maybe if I change my Facebook occupation to writer, I’ll feel more in the part?

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    1. Thank you Mary! I just finished reading it, great piece 🙂 your boss sounds amazing!

      Reply

  1. If you write, you are a writer. If you make money from your writing, you are a professional writer. Either way, you’re a writer. 🙂

    I think that taking myself seriously was the hardest step. I struggled so much with allowing myself to do what I’d been dreaming of since I was a kid. All of the voices from over the years—the naysayers and people who thought they were helping—haunted me, though (and still do, to an extent).

    If I could give you any one piece of advice, it would be to tell those voices to go screw, and just do your thing. Keep writing. Squeeze in a sentence here and there while you’re chasing around Cutie #1 and Cutie #2. Keep a separate notebook to keep your thoughts organized (or a separate file). These are called style sheets, and I wouldn’t be able to write novels—or my serials—without them. (I’ve become horribly scatterbrained lately.) I have a notebook and digital style sheet for (almost) every writing project. (Hey, some of us need both.)

    I listen to I Should Be Writing (a free podcast on iTunes for fiction writers), and the host, Mur Lafferty, uses something called The Magic Spreadsheet. While I’m not sure I want to get that into detail, I like the idea of having a daily writing goal and keeping your own chain going. She’s been writing at least 250 words a day for 200+ days straight. I am in awe.

    Just do your thing, Jess, and keep doing it.

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    1. Great tips Liz! I just subscribed to I Should Be Writing and downloaded the magic spreadsheet podcast so I will listen to that as soon as the kids are sleeping 🙂

      You’re always an inspiration to me, I need to follow your (and Sarah’s) organization and writing tips more often haha! I’m always so productive when I do.

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  2. I think you’re a fabulous writer! Now get your novel written & sold girl! 🙂

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  3. There are many, many different kinds of writing. Some people write children’s books. Others write murder mysteries. Some journal; others become foreign journalists. Some make us laugh. Others make us cry. Open yourself wide to the possibilities. No one writes perfectly. We edit and edit, then edit some more. Read great writers, but don’t try to imitate anyone else. Find your own voice. Blogging counts. As for publishing, it’s nearly gone out of existence trying to compete with the internet. Look for alternatives, for instance, pressbooks.com. Best of luck!

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