Saturday, July 16, 2011

Writers are a Stubborn Folk, You Know

A few weeks ago, we were almost published on a writing site for parents.  The article was intended to speak to others who write with little to no reward, and perhaps make them feel less alone in this world.  At the last minute the article was rejected for being "too negative".  The site wanted writers to believe they were going to make money, and this article didn't exactly sell the profession.  It wasn't intended to.  So we're posting it here to prove a point.

If this speaks to at least one person out there, it will be worth it.

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Why even bother?

I ask myself this on a daily basis.  Unlike "real" writers, I haven't made a penny off my writing.  In fact, if I calculate the money and time I've invested in learning how to be a better writer, I'm pretty far down in the hole.  Plus, there's other costs to consider.  Like time, for one.

I'm guessing most of you know that parenthood takes multitasking to a whole new level.  Finding time to grocery shop is much easier said than done for someone who probably doesn't even get to shower without interruptions anymore.  Even if you're lazy like me and do your grocery shopping when your friend plans it, so you can avoid figuring out when to grocery shop and mooch a ride.  (Good mothers are resourceful, am I right?)

Also, there's this pesky little thing called money we need to buy all these kids the things they need: silly things like food, clothing, checkups, and that thing called education you're supposed to provide for them.  Cue the day job, which sucks many hours a week away.

Now that you're getting the picture, you must be thinking to yourself: That's it? All that time left after working and raising a child! Who needs sleep, you need to write! In fact, after reading this lovely piece, we insist!  Talent like this cannot go to waste!  You simply MUST write!  (You did pick up on that sarcasm, I hope.)
It started out pretty innocuously.  I started a blog to update friends and family on my international adventures (sometimes the day job has its perks).  It was kind of fun and I kept at it, mostly because it was a good way to communicate with close family who lived far away.  Like deebo, for example.  That's an inside joke.  Well it was, anyway.

As a mother, it was a good outlet.  I wasn't exactly about to go out after work and start tossing them back to relax, but I could write about the challenges I faced as a mother and that helped me in a different way.  I read other people's blogs and got a whole new level of respect for what it takes to be a mother.  I also learned there's a lot of funny moms out there.  Shockingly, some of them think I'm funny.  So I kept at it and found that I liked the support I got when I needed to vent or the sheer pleasure of having someone appreciate my twisted sense of humor.

You're supposed to laugh now.  Or chuckle, or something.  Anyway.

Then one day someone said "you're really good at this, you should write a screenplay!"  I dismissed it, of course.  I'm a businesswoman.  I work with creative people - they do impractical things like that.  I could never afford to put that kind of effort into something that would pay off any dividends. (See! I said dividends!  Thus proving I am indeed a bona fide businesswoman.)  Then someone else said I should write a screenplay.  Why peeps kept saying that and not a novel is beyond me.  But by the time a third person mentioned this I thought "why not"?  Who cares that I've never even read a screenplay, it'll be a life accomplishment!  Some run marathons, I was going to write a screenplay!  I gingerly mentioned this idea to a couple of people and they laughed so hard, naturally it just made me want to do it that much more. 

So in addition to my hectic life I decided to take an intensive 10-week screenwriting seminar with homework.  And when that was over I added a bi-monthly writing group.  Thus began a 2 year journey of constant writing, editing, checking in with my newfound writing friends.  And now, I am proud to announce I have a legitimate, original, and fully completed screenplay in my possession.  Soon it will be two.  And it's good enough that it wasn't tossed aside by the first competition I submitted it to.  More importantly, it still makes me laugh when I read it.

Wanna buy it? Please?

Ahem.  I had to try, you know.

So where am I after all this?  5 years of blog entries.  One screenplay.  And after years of building readership talking to myself, I'm still at it.

Why is that?

So that's what I ask myself every day.  Some ask whether the tree really made a sound if no one was there to hear it fall.  I am a different sort of philosopher who questions whether or not I can call myself a writer if no one's paid me so much as a teency weency penny to do it.

And since I am very much a betting woman, I'd give huge odds in favor of the fact that at least one person reading this feels the very same way.

3 comments:

Emily said...

People pay me to write all the time, and I'm still not sure I can call myself a writer. But, yes, I could have written this four years ago.

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between writing and being a writer. Anyone can put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and string a bunch of words together. But writers tell stories. Writers have points to make and do so in interesting, compelling ways that make readers come back. You're writing has been recognized by other writers. There's no higher praise.

Theresa said...

You don't have to make money to be a writer. I think putting it out there and doing what you love makes you a writer, like you...