Nuts and Bolts: Part 1 – Should you be a writer?

Back on January 1, I promised to start revealing my writing process, and I fully intended to do so posthaste.  Unfortunately, I totally underestimated the stuff that had to get done in order for my son to submit his college and financial aid apps, including the delightful Catch 22 of having to give the feds your tax info before you even receive your W-2s, aka FAFSA.

So now that all that’s done, and I’m diving into the fray with a fast draft, 280 pages in 14 days. This could give me the perfect excuse not to blog, but no, brave idiot that I am, I’m not going to use it.  Instead, I’m going to write a book in 2 weeks AND TELL YOU HOW TO DO IT WHILE I DO IT.  Actually, I’m cheating a bit (a lot).  To keep both my word and my sanity, I’ll be trotting out parts of one of my all-time most popular workshop presentations. Over the next couple of weeks you’ll get bits of the infamous Nuts and Bolts workshop, presented at several NW writers conferences during the late 90s to much acclaim, but here spiffied up to at least minimally reflect today’s publishing world. And so, without further ado, the Big Question:



       Are you earnest?  Not, are you a character in an Oscar Wilde drawing room comedy, but are you truly earnest about writing?  This is not an easy business.

       Are you willing to lose sleep over a character who won’t behave?  Are you willing to let the kids wear their jeans an extra day?  An extra week, at deadline?  Eat more frozen food?  Give up frozen foods and dinners out altogether for six months to pay for that new printer?  Loose track of the vacuum because you haven’t seen it in so long? Grow to love your dust bunnies so much you decide to make them a bed of their own? Are you willing to launch your soul out onto the public market to be picked over, shot at, fawned over, spat upon, lionized, rejected, accepted, revised, and held up for both ridicule and glory?

       If not, give up now.  It’s easier.  It’s less painful.  It’s cheaper.  God knows, it’s cheaper.  That old chestnut about “all you need is a pencil and some paper” is a lie.  That may be all you need to get started, but we’re talking about selling.  Before you’re through, you’ll need a computer, a laser or ink jet printer, plenty of cartridges, and a good case of 20# bond.  (Yes, probably even if you plan to be strictly e-published. More about that later.)

       Anyway, I’ve sold and received the advances on seven books, and with conferences, new equipment, books, and workshops, plus all the miscellaneous expenses of research and promotion, I could still clear more working a minimum wage job.

       But then I’d miss the blank looks and snickers I get when I tell people I’m a romance writer.  And you can’t have all that and a dirty house, too. 


ADDENDUM (2/10/09):  Over on the Novelist Inc blog, Kathy Carmichael offers this relevant examination of another aspect of whether a person should be a writer, the ability to Conceptualize a Novel. Worth a visit.



Next:  Learn to Earn

1 Comment

  1. There are times I WISH I could quit, but I can’t. It’s not about the money, but there is nothing else I’m meant to do. And I know that in my soul.

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