The joy of creation, the exhilaration of knowing that others are reading and loving your work, the satisfaction of a story well told—that’s all part of being a writer.
So is self-doubt. Fear of failure. The gnawing feeling that you’re wasting your life. The surge of hope slapped down by the cold hand of rejection. The certainty that you’re alone, that no one else understands what you’re going through.
But you’re not alone. Whether you’re just beginning to explore the possibilities of a writing career, or you’re trudging along the submission-and-rejection trail, or you’re wondering if you’re in a rut and need to change direction, or you’re working up the courage to plunge into indie publishing—you are not alone. Every writer has felt the same way at one time or another. And sometimes all it takes to restore our spirits and keep us going is a reminder that we are members of a tribe with shared dreams and experiences.
A new publication from Sisters in Crime called Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey offers inspiration on every page. In brief essays that cover all aspects of the writing life, dozens of Sisters in Crime members share their personal stories. Contributors include such longtime bestsellers as Margaret Maron, Barbara D’Amato, Laurie R. King, Nancy Martin, Elaine Viets, along with many other familiar names.
Readers who enjoy learning about the writing process and how authors get published will also enjoy this book.
Writes of Passage, in trade paperback format, is available to anyone for $10 plus shipping and handling from this website: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SistersinCrime.
My own contribution to Writes of Passage is this inspirational piece.
You Are a Writer
by Sandra Parshall
Years of rejection can warp a writer’s thinking in dangerous ways and cast a shadow over future success.
Before I was published, I was timid about identifying myself as a writer. A writer is someone who gets published and paid, after all. For years I accepted the loathsome label of “wannabe.” After a published author informed me that I was “just a housewife who imagines she can write mysteries” I didn’t even feel worthy of the wannabe title.
Then my first book was published–by a small press. I discovered that the inner doubts and the disdain of others don’t vanish with publication. My book’s excellent reviews and award win meant nothing to some people. I was a small press author, not in the same league as real authors. I’ll admit I let it get to me when a reader told me at a bookstore event that he’d never heard of my publisher (Poisoned Pen Press) and assumed it was a vanity imprint–and refused to believe me when I assured him it was an established press. I was published, but did it count for anything? Was I still a wannabe, not a real writer?
I also heard that if you can’t live on your royalties, you’re not a professional. Writing is a hobby, something you do in your spare time for pocket change. I was writing constantly, every day, giving my books all my time and energy, and it certainly didn’t feel like a hobby, but again I allowed negative thinking and other people’s pompous pronouncements to make me feel like less than a real writer.
I’ve finally come to my senses, admittedly a little late in the day. After six well-received books, I’ve earned the right to think of myself as a real writer, to announce it proudly and spell it out in the “profession” blanks on registration and application forms. Only the IRS and the state tax department have the right to ask how much I earn–and believe me, they consider me a professional and tax me accordingly.
The wide-open opportunities in today’s turbulent publishing world should be celebrated for many reasons, but they don’t guarantee bestsellers and financial success, the only achievements some people will respect. Writers still have to find a way around the pitfalls of negative thinking.
I wish someone had told me long ago, before I was published, to ditch the “wannabe” label. I was writing seriously, with the goal of publication. I was constantly studying, learning, improving. I was a writer. I should never have let anyone make me believe otherwise. After I was published, I had no excuse for dismissing my own achievements. Books with my name on them, books that other people were paying to read, were the only validation I should have needed.
Often when authors are asked what advice they would give to aspiring writers, they answer, “Never give up. Keep trying until you break in.” Good advice, but I would add: Start thinking of yourself as a writer the moment you decide to devote your life to producing stories for an audience.
You’re a writer. That’s your identity. Don’t let anyone take it away from you.