Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Confessions Of A Writer: There Is No Magic Key


            I suppose it was inevitable and I should have foreseen that it would happen but I didn’t.  There were a few murmurings about it when I was “just” a writer selling a few little bits of short fiction and articles.   Now, however, that I’m recognized as an author, I’m asked the question often and no one who dares to ask ever likes the answer.

            If I had a dollar, just one single wrinkled George Washington, for each time someone asks me how to get published, I would have a much healthier bank account.

            When I smile and tell them that it takes hard work, dedication, a thick skin, and an open attitude toward learning, the questioner begins to frown.  Their silly, sappy smile anticipating being given the magic writing key fades away and they glare at me as if I’m holding out on them.

             I talk about honing your craft, improving your word skills, and learning from edits.  I explain that I write stronger, cleaner prose now than I did even a year ago.   I mention that I rise early, hit the laptop at what many of them would consider an ungodly hour, and that I work for hours.   When I explain that I work into the night, on weekends, and just about every day out of the year, their attention wanders.  Few want to put forward any effort toward actual writing or engage in the kind of hard work that is necessary.

            No would-be writers or wannabees receive the truth very well. 

            They want me to offer up simple advice, a sure fire plan that will get their work not just published but soaring to the top of the best seller charts.   They want to be John Locke who just sold a million copies of his self-published book for Kindle or Danielle Steele or Dean Koontz.

            All they want is that insider information that I am withholding from them, a short sentence that tells them just what to do.    These poor people truly believe the myth that breaking into the writing world is just that easy.   They buy into the so-called overnight success stories, the chance in a billion victories.   If – and I have – tell them that they probably have a better shot at buying a winning lottery ticket than hitting the top of the New York Times bestseller lists, they shake their head.

            I know most of them just can’t believe I am so mean and won’t share.

            So they ask me “the question” on the street, via e-mail, and even friend me on Facebook so they can shoot a private message in my direction. 

            What none realize is that if I had a simple one-sentence or three step plan that could guarantee success as a writer then I could make my fortune writing a self-help guide for writers.  I would think that if they just looked to the thousands of books geared toward writers that they might realize that there is no one method and whatever works, it’s far from simple.   So they go away, disgruntled, sad that their old buddy, former neighbor, classmate, friend, pal, just won’t give up the secret.  

            But the real hidden truth is that there just isn’t one.

            A few listen and they are the ones who may join me as an author.

            So aspiring writers, get over it and just write.

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