Was there a defining moment when you said I am a writer?
This was a question asked of the winners of the Commonwealth Book and Short Story Prize at the Hay Festival and one I remember the winners saying, in a round about way — we all still think we’re winging it. It comes down to that idea that we need to be published, and then maybe we need a bestseller and then maybe we need lots of bestsellers AND then maybe perhaps we might think we’re a real writer. I heard Neil Gaiman say, or words to this effect anyway, that he still thinks he’s just been lucky.
So do we all think we’re winging it?
Or maybe we are all just insecure and even with a string of books and successes we will live in a continual pursuit of validation?
Well maybe so, maybe that’s part of being human?
So now we need to start believing in ourselves more.
We need to stop being too hung up on if we’re a real writer or saying I want to be a writer and say I write therefore I am (to misquote Descartes). And that means if you write, you are a writer. Say it now. Out loud. Go on! Throw your arms in the air writers and say “I am a writer.”
You are now on your way and you must never say I want to be a writer — again! Got it!
Yes we need validation as a measure of that success but it can come in many forms. I think what we need more is rejection. And yes I did just say that. I tell you why — because it’s through the rejection comes the drive to be better, no, a step further than that — to be the best. And so begins the real journey. The proof you’re getting closer to that is success, so now we have the validation and for me that’s just permission to do the dance! Or at least that’s how I feel. Seek to be the best. Focus primarily on the writing. That is my motto anyway. And if your focus is just money — forget it, that is a by-product of the success. Write well. Tell yourself that is your goal: write well, write well, write well and do whatever is needed to achieve that.
Had I not had (and no doubt will continue to get) the rejections, I would not have made it my mission to learn and learn and learn some more and seek the perfect story, the perfect novel — if such a thing exists — but it’s in that pursuit and desire to learn your craft is borne the success. Or so I think. And it’s a philosophy that seems to be working.
For me there was a defining moment when I started to say “I am a writer” and that was long before I gave up the day job. And to this day I believe that statement, made not with arrogance or because I’d had a string of bestsellers (that is to come she says with hope) but because I write, every week day and therefore I am a writer. And I don’t just mean I write a blog (I do sure) or I write emails (do that too) or Facebook posts or Twitter (yep do that) but I mean I write my fiction with dedication and drive and I do it every day. So therefore, by definition, I am a writer. Right?
And it was making that statement and then registering as self-employed long before I started earning any money from it and was in fact still in full-time employment as well, that created the reality that has become. So now the focus is on being an even better writer and the bestsellers. Think of all that dancing to come! I’m ready! Are you?
I do think we create our own reality and so it is down to us to make the necessary changes.
I believe in The Secret.
Tomorrow I have the very great pleasure of welcoming crime writer, Stephen Puleston to the spotlight in the first in my Spotlight on Crime series.
Have a great day everyone! I plan to write and then I have some poster distribution up at the uni and some shopping to do! Have fun whatever you’re doing. And always remember to celebrate life and successes no matter how small — always remember to dance!