Today, with the help of a fellow writer (who probably doesn't know that I exist), I had an epiphany. And as soon as I had it, I knew that I had to write a blog post about it. Because until today, I had been fooled for nearly my entire life. Because there are countless people out there who have also been fooled. And because I didn't want there to be any more people in the future who will be fooled.
And what was this epiphany, you ask? Simply this: writers do not have access to a magic closet. They are not special (I'll caveat this and explain later), they won't turn you to a pillar of salt if you look at them in the moonlight, they're just people like everyone else you've ever met. And you know what else? Anyone can be a writer. Let me say this again, because some of you don't believe me. ANYONE CAN BE A WRITER.
Now, this might not be a tremendously earthshaking revelation to some. But to me, and apparently to many, many others, it is. Being a writer involves work. Hard work. It involves giving up other pursuits to spend time working on an outline, or doing a re-write on a chapter, or just plain banging out the words on the keyboard or paper. Being a writer means you sacrifice time, energy, money, sleep and more in order to make it happen. Being a writer means that you treat writing as a job, and in any job you make it your business to understand everything that job entails, from finances to marketing to distribution and more.
What is a writer not? A writer is not lazy, does not "wait for the mood to strike", does not push away things that others (like agents or publishers) are assumed to do. A writer does not let others dictate where or how their efforts are to be used, nor does a writer let others dictate what they feel like paying for the efforts (in terms of one-sided contracts). A writer is not special, not a prince/princess, not anything except a person.
As Kristine Kathryn Rusch points out in her latest blog post (accessible HERE), there has been an institutionalized mystique that has permeated not just the publishing industry, but has even emanated out into the rest of society. Case in point: I was at an author event at a local library the other night, and afterward I had a very nice chat with a local business woman. Multiple times she reflected that authors are just "magical" and she wondered out loud how we could manage to write a book. And I was taken back to my childhood and how I used to think the exact same thing! I even mentioned it earlier that evening when I was talking about how I first got started writing. I'm a writer and I STILL BELIEVED IT WAS MAGIC! How's that for pervasive?
Reading Kristine's blog post, something finally clicked for me. It's not magic. It's hard work. She rattles off a few big name writers. Why are they big named writers? Because THEY WORKED AT IT. They didn't just have talent (though I'm sure some might say that they did not), they had a work ethic. They realized that in order for them to make writing a career, they had to put in the long hours learning what they didn't know and writing story after story after story. Earlier I mentioned that writers are not special. The exception to this statement is this: writers are special in that they do not give up. They keep on working towards their goal of being successful writers, whatever that means to them. They are special because they believe that their hard work will pay off, and it does.
For those of you who want to be writers, you can be. Don't give up, don't think you can't learn and become a better writer. Don't listen to people who say you can't do it. Just trust in the story and your ability to tell it in the right way. Anyone can be a writer. It's not magic.