I thought I'd step outside my usual box for this week's blog. I talk the about the meat and bones of what I do a lot. Which is writing. I think? No, it's writing. I even talk about what I write, well mostly I drone on about that, but the point is I talk a good bit about writing, but I can't remember if I've ever talked about being a writer. Sure, we all talk about inspiration, and heaven knows we go on and on about writer's blocks. Believe me. Authors have a lot to say on that subject. It has always seemed funny to me that we can't write the books we're supposed to write, but can do eight part blogs on the subject of not being able to write a single word. We're crazy. We deal with it. You read about it. See how symbiotic our relationship is?
I'm probably breaking a few taboos here, but I want to tell you about what it takes to actually be a writer. If I accidentally reveal something, that puts me under a death warrant, remember me fondly.
So what does it take to be a writer? Talent? Yes. Drive? Yes. Peace and quiet? Yes, but good luck managing that one. A computer helps too. The most important thing you'll need is a bunch of good friends and a supportive spouse. That last one is a must if you're married or involved with a great someone long term.
Why friends? Because, you need people around to tell you that you're great, when you don't believe in yourself. You also need them around to tell you that you aren't as great as you think you are, when you start thinking you are. Sometimes that last one pops up more often than you'd like to think. I'm going to basically focus on this friend thing, because writers know when they have talent and drive. This friend issue is too important to skip over and spout endless clichés that you've probably read a million times before. Before I toss those clichés away, let me pervert one to my uses. It takes a village to write a book. There, hopefully it's out of my system, and we can move forward.
The friends you have when you start out writing might not be around when you're into it awhile. Sad, but true. As much as those friends might have supported your decision to get those great stories out of your head in the beginning, they won't understand why your muse is talking, and you can't just leave it to go shopping at an outlet mall or go catch a movie. Writing totally dominates your life. Your muse dictates when you do things. You don't. You're either writing or thinking about writing. That is again, sad but true. Writing is a solitary thing. Before you got started, you basically live inside your own head. When you first sit down to type, your brain is spilling out all those images that have made you laugh to yourself at odd times. After awhile, you're doing nothing but writing. Sure, you're still going through the motions at work, and at home, but while you're cooking supper or mowing the lawn, your brain just swung off a horse to take the love of its life into its arms. Real life can't compete with that. It doesn't even try. Now, those above friends still love you and call you their friend the writer at all those dinner parties your muse won't let go to. Shame isn't it, and you so love those little cocktail weenies wrapped in bacon.
Onto our second set of friends. The friends you met, either online or off net, before you became a published author. This is your first real taste of camaraderie within the insane writer community. You struggle together. You lift each other up when the rejection hits the inbox. I can personally attest to the fact that these are some of the truest friends you will ever meet. They'll become closer that family and will stick with you through everything. Rejection. Success. Disappointing reviews. Disappointing books, because we all have one we hate. The point is, these beautiful people understand you, like your normal friends never could. I only say normal, because to be an author you have to be so much more than normal. You have to see beyond what is real to create something both real and unbelievable at the same time. Unfortunately, as your career goes on, some of these friends will fade from your radar. Life get's in the way, either theirs or yours. I have lost some friends I thought I couldn't live without, because their lives took a turn, and they had to choose what was important to them to make them happy. Writing ain't easy. It isn't even much fun all the time. Then why do we do it? Because, quite frankly once you get started, you can't stop. It's a disease, a drug and an addiction you can't shake.
Lastly, the friends you meet after being published. These are the friends who truly understand what you're going through. They get deadlines, writer's blocks and just how much of your time is yours now. Very little, in case you were wondering. True, you may misplace one or two, as you get published at multiple houses. For the most part, you can ding them on a messenger window, and they're there pounding away on their computer just like you are. Okay, playing on Facebook or Twitter, but that's all part of being a writer. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Most people don't get that being with a publisher isn't just a bunch of random authors thrown together. We become a family of sorts. We support each other. We pray for each other when someone needs it. We hold each other virtually as the need arises. Like I said, we become a family.
A week or so ago, a friend and I were joking around about this very thing. I said we weren't authors. We were the Sisterhood of the Traveling Muse. I know I'm not a sister, but it still applies. Why traveling muse? Because, none of us can seem to write at the same time. Our muses constantly jump ship and play the tart with any old author who wiggles a bit of chocolate at them. Yes, we're not above petty bribery to get a story flowing. There's a lot of talk about muses with us author types, but that's another blog.
What do all these friends mean to a writer, you may be asking yourself? Even if you weren't, I'm going to tell you. Well, that is the point of this blog. They give you an ever ready support group. If you don't know something you need for a book, someone in your circle probably does. Most of all, they give you love. Hey, being an introverted person is a lonely thing. We can use all the love we can get. Besides, when you walk around talking to yourself all the time, you need people of like minds to talk to. Heaven knows, no one else will give you the time of day. Straight jackets yes. Time of day no.
So the next time you pick up a book, or download one to the reader of your choice, think on the secrets I've revealed, and thank your lucky stars you have friends, that may or may not talk to themselves. Otherwise, we may kidnap you and force you to join our Sisterhood of the Traveling Muse. Really, do you want to see what goes on inside our heads before our editors tame it up for public consumption?
I thought not.