23.1.12

Cowardly Career Gal



I briefly mentioned in my New Year Goal post that I have a bit of a problem. It's an ego-related problem, which is why it's so bad. Nobody can make it better than me. I guess it's good because it means that I have full accountability but that it sucks that I have to work it out myself.


Stupid self-reflection...



Since being stuck in my house like Rapunzel (minus the flowing golden locks - oh how I long for flowing locks) I've become quite good at finding ways to pass the time.


If I had hair like hers, I'd be french-braiding the crap out of it. With flowers. And sparkly clips.



I paint canvases, cook, bake, dance around like an idiot wearing boas and sparkly top hats, but it's been hard to find things that give my life some purpose. As my bio states, I'm a former obsessive A-type personality. Pre-sicky-face-status, I was used to having such a full schedule that it required a day planner (remember those days, before phones?). Not only was it overflowing with spare bits of paper and sticky tabs, but it was also colour coded. Yeah, I had to be that organized. 


*sighs wistfully*


In May of 2010, I started blogging and I rediscovered how much I liked creative writing. It'd been years since I'd written anything not academic and after a couple of days, I was hooked. Two months later, I completed the first draft of my first novel. When I finished, the surge of pride kept a smile on my face for weeks. I carried around my MS in my purse and showed it to anyone who gave me a second glance. The checkout girl at the grocery store was my biggest fan. Okay so I wasn't quite that bad, but it was close for a while.


After  a couple of weeks of petting the MS, I started researching how books are published. Turns out, it's pretty hard but I figured that with my empty schedule, I'd be able to invest the time. 


While learning about query letters (which are like applications to agents) and how to write a decent synopsis (a summary of the book), I realized just how many newbie mistakes I made. Thank goodness for author's blogs, agent's blogs and Twitter. They're like a continual crash-course in Fiction Writing 101. A FREE continual crash-course and what's better than that?


Submitting my second MS had much better results than my first. Agents actually gave me feedback in their rejections! Feedback with suggestions! Truth be told, I sent out fifteen queries and got three requests for my MS and nine non-form rejections filled with nuggets of wisdom. Although I was disappointed, it inspired me to go back and make some serious revisions.


I feel that it's now about one million percent stronger but I've chosen to stop querying it because my third MS, which I've recently finished the first draft on, is about a ZILLION times stronger than the second. With the great feedback I got, I feel that my third just might be the one that lands me a fantastic agent. It's not good to be a query-a-holic and since my plan is to finish revisions and edits in the next few months, it makes more sense to stop querying the second and focus on the third.


So, I'm sure you can see by now that writing has pretty much taken over my life. I write about five to six hours each day during the week but there are times that I'm up really early or really late, typing as fast as my fingers will let me. I've also become that random person who jots down inspiration while grocery shopping and The Remix has become the wall I constantly bounce ideas off of.


YET....When somebody asks me what I do, I respond with, "Nothing."


My family and friends seem to have no problem calling me an author - they do it all of the time - but I just can't seem to do it unless I force myself (and then I do this awkward smile that sort of looks like I'm going to stab someone in the eyeball - it's bad).


The further along the writing road I go, the more I've wondered what my beef is. Well, after thinking and drinking thinking, I think I've finally gotten to the root. The bad news is that it's completely ridiculous. Ridiculous and somewhat embarrassing. Not a good combo.


I've spent the majority of my adult life in an academic setting where credentials mean everything. If there wasn't a string of letters after your name, then you didn't know shit. Credentials = credibility.


This is the core of my problem.


I took one creative writing course in the second year of my undergraduate degree about, oh....well...ten years ago. Aside from the A- in that class (see how I put the mark in there? Told you I had some issues), I have zero training in creative writing. Zip. Zilch. Zero.


As much as I've been taught to believe in credentials, though, I also believe in life-experience. Heck, I was volunteering as a rape-crisis counsellor long before I had any schooling on the matter and some of the best people I worked with used their personal experiences to become positively fantastic counsellors. I've read countless interviews with authors who say that they've been writing for as long as they can remember. Despite work schedules, family commitments and life-craziness, they always found time to write. They needed to. It was like breathing to them.


The bummer is that I don't fall into that category either. I literally just started two years ago. 


*deep philosophical sigh*


So, between having no formal education or creative writing background, I feel that when I say:


"I'm a writer." 


The natural follow-up question will be whether or not I've been published. Since the answer is "no," I'm setting a trap for myself. A trap that makes me sound like a wannabe loser. With no publishing experience, no formal education and no life-long commitment to the craft, I might as well call myself an  an astronaut or circus magician. I mean, who am I to suddenly declare that I'm a writer when I've been doing it for all of five seconds?


The last thing I want is a pitying smile from someone, like they're patting a five-year-old on the head and saying "That's nice, dear." My ego just can't take it. 


But (and this is a BIG BUT)


I freaking love writing. I love it. LOVE IT!


 It truly feels like what I was meant to do. 


I like to think that once I get an agent, it'll make me feel more legit but there a lot of posts out there that declare a writer isn't a writer until they believe that they are. Not terribly helpful information but I guess that's just the way it is.


So for the last month I've been faking it. And I'm going to keep on faking it until I believe it. 


I'm an author, dammit! 


An author!


An author!


Hmm...okay so it still doesn't sound natural but it doesn't sound quite as weird anymore, which is a tiny step in the right direction. Hopefully after a few more baby steps, I'll get over the hump.


*peers at hump in distance*


*starts walking*





ps. Props to you for getting to the end of the very loooooooong post. *hands bags of props*

4 comments:

AmandaDF said...

You go girl! Just keep doing it and writing and believing in yourself and it will all work out! I used to hate saying I wanted to be a writer-it sounded really silly to me. But now, I know that's what I want to do-to write! Follow your heart!

The Blind Bride said...

Only assholes will ask if you are "published". Normal people will say, "What kind of writing?" You will have tons to say about that! Plus I think people are way more understanding than you think they are. Than I thought they were until I walked away from a career with no plan.

Wiz said...

I could tell from reading your book reviews that you are a writer!! You are very good at it!

jennie said...

BB - Ohemgee, you're freaking hilarious! This seriously made me laugh...still is, really! I've met a few of these assholes already but you're right when you say that normal people usually ask about what kind of things I write. I've poked around your blog but you're cryptic about what you left your teaching job for. Good for you for moving towards something new, too! It's so scary but exhilarating at the same time!

Thanks again for your super funny comment!