All throughout Twitter one can see other writers describing their process…and the superstitions, er…I mean preparations to help them begin writing. I read and take note of these, but I fear I don’t qualify, as I do none of the things I see other writers doing.
Here is a list concerning all the ancillary work in which other writers seem to glory.
Coffee. Let me state now: I do not drink coffee. Not only does it lack the magic powers it seems to give other writers, it tears up my stomach something shocking. I see posts in which folk run out of coffee–or don’t have their favorite brand–and actually admit they can do no writing until the problem is fixed. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I must wonder if I’m a true writer.
Cats. Oh, dear. This is a biggie. It’s not that I dislike cats, it’s that I’m deathly allergic to them. How allergic, you might ask? I was in a production of A Christmas Story two or three years ago, and the director delivered the script to me. As I read over it, I noticed my nose began running, and my throat closed up to the size of a dime. It became bad enough that I considered going to the ER. Before I did so, I called the director and asked if he had cats, as my symptoms were identical to that allergy. He admitted he had several. I wrapped the script in a plastic bag, tied it up, and set it outside. My symptoms abated within moments. THAT’S how bad my cat allergy is. So no cat for me pawing at the keyboard while I’m trying to type. Fuzz balls of death, I call them.
Writing circles (whether formal or informal). I just don’t get it. I can’t imagine showing my unfinished work to a group of other writers for critique. My first draft is usually squalor. Worse than squalor. By the time I type “The End” on a project, I reread what I’ve written and slip into a bout of severe depression. “I’m no writer,” I moan to myself. “I’m just a fraud. Who am I kidding?” Then I see folk extoling the praises of dozens of writers with whom they’re in contact…and so I ask, “But what about me? I’ve written and published several projects! My latest anthology–a post-apocalyptic collection of short stories–is represented by twenty authors, one of which is me! I’ve an original Irish collection, a horror collection, a zombie story that eschews all the zombie tropes! Why not include me?” -sigh- Relegated to anonymity. Again, I could never show my first drafts to anyone, so it’s a moot point.
I’ve a hard time Tweeting with professional writers–the Bestsellers, that is. I admire them, follow them on Twitter, read every word they Tweet or publish…but the thought of communicating with them leaves me feeling even more a fraud. That’s not to say I haven’t done so. Just last night I Tweeted Anne Rice about a political piece she posted on her Twitter feed. No response, of course–she undoubtedly receives hundreds of Tweets a day from folk like me–but I did it. And other than a few Tweets to Stephen King and Nora Roberts, I’ve stayed away from the big boys/girls. (Although I did Tweet actor/songwriter Paul Williams, which wound up being a great conversation, ongoing to this day. He even followed me. Heady stuff!)
I’m an indie-author. Many of the writers I follow have agents and are published through the big houses. But this is my choice, as my limited association with a publisher–this one for plays–wound up being a four-year battle in which the manuscript was “lost,” could I resend it? “No, I received a receipt that you had it, loved it, and was sending it up the ladder for approval. I will NOT send another, as you clearly already have one.” A few years later–after I considered that play a loss–another play that was practically identical to mine opened on Broadway. It was changed in nonsensical ways, and it folded during previews. I sent a short, terse card to the publisher (who shall remain nameless) that said: “If you’d only kept my original material you might’ve had a hit on your hands.” So I’m an indie-author, AND an indie-publisher. That has proven difficult, but ultimately rewarding. Traditional publishing will be dead in twenty years anyway, so I’m not worried about it.
Those are but a few reasons why it’s difficult for me to consider myself an author. But in other ways I have help in indie-authors cheering me on, as I do them. Without their support, I don’t know if I’d even keep at it. I’ve sold several project, and they do okay. Our current anthology is selling like gangbusters, and I believe that’s because it represents twenty different authors–all of whom are promoting the book. It may be the first project of mine I’m truly proud of.
Well, there it is. Why I don’t feel like a true writer. I should add that’s only on bad days (which can be numerous)–the good days fill me with excitement and desire to write twelve different projects at once. I pick one, of course, but I always have another book in the back of my mind while writing the current WIP. I’m blessed with a source of stories that never quits. Whether they are appreciated by the reading public or not doesn’t concern me. I write books I want to read…then I publish them under our publishing banner…BANJAXED Books…for others to either enjoy or ignore.
I get a lot of the latter. But when I hear from someone who reads the work and praises it, it gives me ten seconds of joy. Then I’m back to wondering just what the hell I’m trying to accomplish as a writer.
To quote Vonnegut: “So it goes.”