I was once asked what it was like to be a writer. And though I would never presume to speak for all writers. I can definitely comment on my own experience.
Writing my novel was a labor of love. Honestly, I don’t know if I should put more emphasis on the labor or the love part of that statement.
It meant being alone a lot. Thinking about how subject matter should and could be tackled. It meant discovering what the Bible had to say about the subject I was writing and what level of creative license I would take to explore things the Biblical text did not address.
It meant envisioning a world that I had never seen but only heard and read about. Creating personalities, as opposed to automatons. Characters that you might emphasize with, laugh with, champion, and learn to hate. It meant creating a world that was simple enough that people could engage in and view the movie that played in my head. It meant asking what was this characters conflict? What could prevent them from achieving their goals. Figuring out plot lines. Learning more about grammar. Realizing my limitations and seeking out more information. It meant writers block, trying to figure out what ‘writers block’ was, and learning to overcome it. It meant being disciplined sometimes, and not others. It meant counting words, and seeing if I progressed today. Figuring how to transition between scenes, how long chapters should be. If the verbiage sounded right, or not write at all. It meant, reading my work so much that I got tired of reading it. To write 5, even 10 pages of text, then realize its drivel, and to delete a days or more work.
That’s some of the labor part.
Writing a novel is bringing something from nothing into reality. It is just a concept, an idea, but to finally hold the completed work in your hand. It’s an awesome feeling. It’s an awesome feeling when you go to the copyright offices website and register your book. It’s an awesome feeling when you see the cover of your novel for the first time. It’s an harrowing endeavor to hand it over to an editor and then get it back knowing that you have to remove scenes or other bits of dialogue that don’t make sense.
It’s a nerve wracking experience to send out query letters to agents, and essentially trying to sell them to “pick me!” “pick me!”. It’s painful when your work is rejected. And then making the decision to do it again. And again…and again….and again. It’s a sense of wow, now how do I get this in the hands of readers? It’s the soberness that comes when you realize that, your book is but one book out of the millions on Amazon. When you realize, you need to start a business if you want to actually sell the book. That you are more than a writer. You are an authorpreneur, a marketer, graphic design specialist, editor, publisher, lay out artist, publicist. The revelation that the author hat is only one of a hydra of hats.
It’s exciting to see your name and have others see your book and say,” wow, you’re an author?” Or “Did you write that?” “Where can I get a copy?” “What’s your book about?” There is an inevitable smile that occurs when the statement or question is raised.
That’s some of the love part.
You are elated when you get a one page registration letter from the copyright office indicating that they have your book on file and it’s officially registered. There is no greater feeling than when someone reads your book, and they tell you how exciting it was to read, or what they learned, or how amazed they were. It hits you in the gut though when someone tells you it stinks. If your like me in those moments you look then to some of your favorite writers and see that they too have bad reviews. And then you accept the reality that you are indeed an author. You’re not just a writer anymore. But a published author.
You lament when you find errors you thought you had corrected, embarrassed over a plot hole that you can see but others can’t. Cringe when someone tells you it’s not a book Christians should read. Then confused when other Christians love it and get exactly what you were writing at. It’s then that you realize that you have moved beyond your comfort zone of your own world, into the big world of…well the world.
You are excited over every blog post comment, interaction with readers, more and more you get it. You are constantly reminded why you wrote the book. You look at sales numbers. You learn how to market. You make connections that help strengthen you and your team that assists you. You wonder where family and friends are or not in talking about your endeavors. You make new friends and associates.
You learn how much to talk about your book without crossing the line of bragging or spamming or being inordinate in the accomplishment and promotion of your work. You wonder if you’re me how to balance scriptural principles you’ve learned with the business of promotion.
You stretch, you live, you cry, you wait…you do a lot of waiting.
You learn a lot about people, yourself, and the business. And when no one else is looking. When all eyes are not looking at you. You sit silently behind your keyboard, hearing the clitty tap, sound of your keys while you quickly attempt to place on ‘paper’ the rapidly developing pictures and dialogue that is flooding your mind and which sometimes you can’t get out of your head fast enough. You backspace, and try not to edit, and then sometimes you do, but the words, nouns, and verbs leap off the page screaming for you to allow them to live, to tell the next story. To be part of the next piece of creative written prose given to you. They scream with every stroke of deletion, lamenting in anguish that they have failed to be apart of the creative world you are imagining. Yet others are arranged in such a way that they collectively sing in choral praise, excited to be brought forth into the world.
And that’s what its like to be a author.
And then you do it all over again.