Monday, July 26, 2010

You ARE a writer.

I received a letter from a friend recently (a real letter, mind you- with a stamp and everything) which said something that completely threw me for a loop. Note that this is a good friend of mine- not close in that he knows all of my dirty laundry or anything, but a good enough friend to give advice, and in this case, admonition. He said something along the lines of:

You are not a professional authoress, and treating this [writing] hobby as such cannot be healthy.

At the core, the statement is not completely untrue. I’m still finishing the third draft of March, though not as full-steam-ahead as I suppose I could? To my credit, I really love writing and the creative outlet it provides me, which is why I’m working on Alaska Junction primarily right now. I need to create something, bring in new scenes, give a relationship and friendships different dynamics, add kissing and coffee and a whole new batch of fun exciting elements. Adding them to March would bring a devastating overload, and any hope I might have of acquiring an agent would be dashed like a ceramic mug, falling off of a counter, splattering French roast hope all over the floor.

His comment basically said that I should remind myself that this is a hobby, not a profession, that I should lighten up about writing and slow down. Up to this point, my own opinion can only be guessed at...

It made me mad.

I’m not a professional, I get that. Sometimes my writing behaviors are less than hobbyish, leaving me with minimal sleep and much caffeine. (Another concern of his, for my health, as I’m apparently writing, over-caffeinating and not sleeping myself to the grave. This is untrue.) I don’t see myself as a wannabe writer. I see myself as a writer working towards publication, which is what we all are, right? I don’t want to be published for the first time at the age of forty, after writing for 23 years. It’s not me. I never liked treading water in swimming lessons, and will not just hang out with a novel or two on my hard drive, waiting for something to happen. I know this sounds foolish and probably pretty naive, but if a manuscript of mine is consistently being rejected, then I need more work, more feedback, more critiques. I will work or my novels until they are usable, and valuable. My friend truly meant well, but my goals are not the same as his (he is a writer as well.) There is something special about emerging yourself into something you love, and watching it bloom. I could give up, I could settle for less structured (another fallacy on his part- there is much less writing and coffee, and way more sleep than he gives me credit for) and more freestyle-hobby work, but that won’t make me happy.

In the movie Julie and Julia, (one of my favorites- cannot watch it enough) Eric, Julie’s husband tells Julie that there are sixty-five messages on their answering machine, all from literary agents, television producers, editors, etc. (man I WISH that would happen, but that’s not my point...) she [Julie] remarks to Eric, “I’m going to be a writer!” and what he says is one of my favorite lines in the movie, of which there are many.

“You are a writer.”

Publication or not, we’re all writers. Full time or not, we all write, we all craft and it’s individual for each of us. A one-size approach does not fit all.


  1. I commend you for being serious about writing. Possibly your friend is jealous because he knows that you'll be famous one day. Tons of teenagers risk their lives and their health for sports and other activities of that nature- why should writing be any different?

    Also, I love that you mentioned Julie & Julia. It's one of my all-time favorites. I was so obsessed when I came out that I made my newspaper staff run a full page spread on the movie and the book. I even got to interview a chef who cooked with Julia Child!

    Anyways, enough rambling. See you around Twitter :)

  2. I would have been upset for being so misunderstood by a friend, especially since he is a writer himself. It made me mad for you! How does he handle his writing? Why does he think his way is the way? It sounds as if a lot of assumptions were made on his part. You're right - if we write, we are writers. I know it's easier said than done, but don't worry about it. We know, and you know, that you are a writer, and in my opinion, an author, too. Your work doesn't have to be in its finished form to make you an author.

  3. Ah, very nice post. I agree. Everyone's a writer, even if we have never been published. Waiting around doing nothing and treating it like only a hobby will never get us anywhere.

  4. Julie and Julia! I love it!

    Being an author (or authoress) is NOT the same as being a writer. You are a writer. (And a pretty darn good one. ;D)

    Excellent conviction, Molly. Know who you are! Know what you believe! Know what advice to take! Viva la revolution!

    (I'm getting a liiittle carried away. Talk about over caffeinated?)

  5. Excellent, excellent post, Molly. You are definitely right-a novel or two on your hard drive will do very little good.

    He has a point that this CAN be unhealthy but I think you know what you're doing and won't get carried away to the point of going to your grave. :)

  6. I really need to watch that movie.

    I'd have gotten mad too. It's a good thing I'm married to someone who gets it. He's not a writer, but he knows I'll stay up working on projects that are important to me (or even with a great book).

  7. Thank you all so much for your comments! I had something long and eloquent written out, but Blogger decided that I was no longer its favorite person. Gah! There were some definite assumptions made on his part, but they only confirmed what is true- one person's writing style does not mean that it fits everyone. From what I can tell, he writes and re-writes from the beginning, to make everything RIGHT before moving on. I like to have cohesive sentences from the beginning too, but there's a point when you need to move forward, and work on getting the draft done, not wondering if one word could be changed to something more efficient. :)

    Yes, Myrna- you NEEEEED to watch Julie and Julia. It's a staple of mine! (In fact, I might go watch it right now!)

    Beckyelsie, I really don't drink coffee and write to the extreme that he thinks- I average MAYBE two cups a day, one of which is espresso which has less caffeine than regular coffee. I'm just glad that there are commenters and people in my life that agree- don't just let the book sit!!

    The Blue Lipstick Samurai- *hug* TWINS!

    Jess- I think it's rather sad how we don't consider someone a writer unless they're paid for it... Horray for NOT being hobbyists!

    Abby Stevens- Don't worry, I have plenty of other writer friends to make up for it. ;)

    Marlo- Thanks. It sometimes feels completely FOOLISH to want to write professionally as a 17 year old... I'm glad I have you and several others right along with me.

    -OH! Hey Kayla! Glad you enjoyed it! :)


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