Ever wonder what you’re doing in this business? Wish you’d taken up something easier, like mountain climbing or bungee jumping or studying Russian? I know I do. Almost daily.
But, on the other hand I wouldn’t change a minute of the years I’ve spent in this crazy writing life. Nor would I trade any one of the friends I’ve made who are just as crazy as I am for sticking to it all this time.
If you’re wondering if you have what it takes, or maybe you’re concerned that you don’t have the proper education to be a writer, or maybe you think you’re too old to begin a new career, consider this.
I graduated from high school at 17 and married and raised a family. I never went to college nor do I have any special training to do what I do. I didn’t begin until I was 50. Oh, I’m not on the NY Times Bestseller list, not yet anyway, and I’m not rich, but I am multiply published in fiction/nonfiction/short stories/magazines/newspapers 1988. So if I can do it, you can too, no matter your background. We all do precisely what we want to do. We find a way if we truly want to write.
How many of you are writing to make lots of money?
How many want to be famous and go on Oprah?
How many simply want to write the best darn books and stories you can so other people will enjoy reading your words?
Do the last first, and maybe the first two will follow, but even if they don’t, you’ve accomplished something most people never do. Satisfaction in a job well done.
But how do we know when we have a job well done?
For 20 years I wrote copy, features, profiles, news stories for a weekly rural newspaper. In the beginning, I had an editor who would take my print-out and use a blue pencil to “fix it.” Often he’d ask me what I really meant by a sentence or paragraph. We all need that sort of editor, one who knows what he’s doing without changing the voice of the writer. Tough to find? Yes, they are.
My published books have all been edited professionally by the publisher’s editor. But now, along has come the E book revolution. Amazon and B&N offer Kindle and Nook and self publishing, and I find my next three novels waiting for a good editing. Well, I’ve edited other people’s columns and stories for that same newspaper for about eight of those 20 years. But once I became the editor, there was no one to edit my work. Small newspapers are that way. One of my articles was published about an author who had written a book about the Ozarks. I wrote “…65,000 page book is enticing and…”
Well, it made it into print that way, and the author called me laughing so hard he could hardly talk. “I want to see that 65,000 page book. It must be a little heavy to carry around.” Of course, I’d meant 65,000 words, but because I wrote it and edited it too … well, a bad idea. I might get away with it on this blog, but not in a novel. So someone has to read my novels, if only for the typos and other types of mistakes I’ve made.
We must choose very carefully, because we want our voice to remain, our intent to remain, our style to remain. But it is most important in this age of self-publishing that we present ourselves as the very best we can be. Our reputation is on the line now as it’s never been before. We can’t take back that book that is purchased by readers who will never again buy our work if that one is not the very best we have to offer. So please, find that editor before you put your book out there. You won’t be sorry, in fact you’ll be very happy you did.