Thursday, December 1, 2011

So you want to be a writer...

I've been doing a lot of interviews lately, mainly for the Half-Blood and Obsidian tour, and one question almost always comes up during the interviews.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

This is always the hardest question to answer. Mainly because I'm not sure I'm qualified to give said advice. What measure of success deems you qualified to give advice to other aspiring authors? Did you write a book and pub it yourself? Get picked up by a small or medium press? Sign a decent deal with the Big Six? Get that "major or significant deal" with one of the big pubs? Hit the NY Times List? At what point are you in the position to tell others what to do?

I really don't know what to say beside the standard: Never give up. Keep writing and reading, blah, blah, blah.

So it got me thinking. I know. Bad. Bad thing. And worse yet, it's about to get real up in this hiz-house. 

So you want to be a writer? Great. Please read.

There has been many, many  times that  I've stared at my current manuscript and wondered what in the f*ck was I thinking by wanting a career in writing? Words and shiny idea just won't come out no matter how hard I try. 10,000 words a day? Ha. Try 1,000 if I'm lucky. Whatever magic that makes words and stories happen, up and ran away with your better looking cousin. Then the lack of writing remorse sets in. I'm actually experiencing it right now as I type, because guess what, I'm doing something OTHER than writing.  (Side note: I've only written like 600 words today. Dear. God.)

Still want to be a writer? If not, it's cool. If so, please continue.

I stumble across a less than stellar review or, better yet, someone feels the need to point out said less than stellar review and yeah, ain't that a real jem. (Yes, guys, you want to be a writer and get pub'd, you will have people do this). And I mean the kind of review that really, really gets to you. It's like a kick in the junk by Godzilla.  Your character/story/plot/word is a poor man's version of this and that. You destroyed the English language while cheering. You set a bad example for all females. Your idea of romance is one giant troupe skipping hop skotch in the park while pulling off a drive by shooting. You swallowed metaphors and similes with good intentions then vomited them ALL on your manuscript. Basically your book sucks. And so do you. Welcome to Sucksville. Population: Your lame-o butt.

Still want to be a writer? No. Totally understandable. It's all cool, yo. If so, please continue.

There are days when the motivation to write is up to par with my motivation to clean the fridge or bathroom. But there's a deadline.... a deadline. I want to run screaming like a demented Muppet baby on crack.  

Still want to be a writer? Nah? It's all good. Yes? Please keep on going.

And then, guess what? Get an agent? Get a contract? There is still rejection. Frankly, at times, an endless stream of rejection letters the length of the Mississippi River. Truth be told, even NY Times authors still get rejected.... even after hitting the list. Very few guarantees, my peeps. Sometimes the rejections aren't from pubs. It can be from readers, bloggers, other authors, industry professionals, and the list goes on and on. It gets to the point that when someone starts to say anything that sounds like r-e-j-e-c-t-i-o-n, you pull an Exorcist and your head starts spinning and you may just pee yourself on your mother's carpet. Yes, it can get that bad. Full on Linda Blair mode up in this house. 

Still want to be a writer? Hell to the no? Gotcha ya. Still here? Keep on rollin'...

There are days that nothing you write is good enough. You hate it. Your beta reader thinks their one year old can string together a better comprehensive sentence.  Your editor leaves a "WTF" in the comment section. Your agent tells you your MS is *gasp* derivative (which, trust me, is like another puking green vomit inducer here). Even your husband/wife/significant other/best friend/dog reads your stuff and is like, "Someone seriously paid you money to write this?" And you laugh. Because they did. Then you cry, because they did.

Still want to be a writer? What? You've already stopped reading. I understand. You still here, bobbing your head in the affirmative? Ha. Keep going.

You're going to have a lot of days like these. Days where you literally want to cry. I had one not to long ago. (Picture me all watery eyed and stuff) You want to scream at the world that THEY OWE YOU THIS SUCCESS! You deserve that agent, that contract, that awesome write up in a big time review site. You've done YOUR TIME, whatever that time really is.  And now its time for you to be THE NEXT BIG THING. And when it doesn't happen they way you saw it in all its shiny glory? Yeah, the poo is about to hit the fan. Prepare for being moody and angry and weepy without really knowing why. Your lack of  "success" is the pink elephant and purple people eater in the room. A thing you refused to really name. A thing that takes up a lot of damn space and ends up with 20 extra pounds on your butt. 

You SERIOUSLY still want to be a writer? No? Probably a good thing. Yes? Get ready for the real kicker, my friends.

And then there are days when.... you write like 7,000 words of pure mother-effin' gold. I mean, nothing you write stinks. It's all roses and puppy dog tails. It's perfect. The magic is back and its like a hyper kangaroo in your chest, dying to do its thing.  You are super author. 

And then there are days get a tweet, an email, a review, a comment, snail mail, Harry Potter's owl delivers it....and O.M.GEE. Someone loved your book. Someone read it and took time out of their day to let you know know personally. They even wrote a tome of review, saying their going to be YOUR fan for life. They love you. They love your characters. They create fan made trailers for it. They have their own playlist. They are stalking you in the totally cool way. You have made someone forget to feed their kids, and trust me, that is pretty awesome sauce right there. Better yet, you took someone away from their life for a little while, had them smiling, laughing, swooning, crying and cheering. They got your characters. And in a way, they got you. 

And then there are days when...all you can do is write. You are a writing storm. Motivation is your BFF foreva. Your nickname becomes The Motivator, because your inspiring your writing buddies to get busy and stick to a plan. You become the shiz. 

And then there are days when... you get THE PHONE CALL. An agent is ready to go all Gladiator just so they can rep your book.  You have a new book deal. A new offer on the table, movie/foreign interest. People know your book. They know who you are, even if they don't pick it up. Someone is Zimbabwe is reading your stuff.  Someone who has an address of Mulholland Drives knows your name. That big review site? They LOVED your book. An author you kind of drool over wants to blurb your stuff.  

And then there are days when...your writing? Well, it rocks the socks and then some. Your beta ready is in full fan girl mode. Your editor is leaving comments like, "WHOA" and "I LOVE THIS". Your agent is like this is the real deal Holyfield. Your husband/wife/significant other/dog is like "Iza so proud of youza."

And then there are days when... success and getting what you're owed is a relative thing. Totally subjective to YOU and not to your peers. When you feel like you've arrived because you're holding YOUR book in your hand, or when people in a far away land have read something of yours, or when you've developed haters, because seriously, that is indicative of "arriving." Trolls, by nature, are attracted to those who succeed.

There are going to be many, many days like this. When it's on like Donkey Kong. When you realize that writing is much more of a passion than a word goal, a contract, a review, an agent, an editor, or a blurb. And like with any other passion, there are ups and downs. It's not glamorous. It's not easy. Sometimes it really does suck daimon and alien butt. The pressure is crazy, and it comes from all sides of the spectrum. Your next book has to be better than the last book and so on and on. There is SO MANY things an author can't share with their readers. Ups and downs you will never know about. Things they would die to share with you this instant. Stuff that literally destroys them. Keeping it all in can drive you bat you know what crazy. Sometimes I doubt my sanity. And sometimes, I wouldn't change a damn thing. 

So you want to be a writer? Yeah? Guess what? There's no one piece of advice. Not really. And honestly, who's really qualified to tell you? Not me. Not anyone else. Only YOU are. Because you know what it takes to be a writer. You know what the road is going to look like. And you're ready to travel it with your Capri Sun....or your whiskey. 

And if you don't, it's okay. It's not for everyone, just like being a police officer isn't or taming wild animals. It's just something in you and as long as you have that, you will find success. It really is that simple. 

So you want to be a writer? Awesome. Time to get busy. 

Self Promo time---Oh...and, yeah, Obsidian has been released early. Check out the links on the side to buy. Haha.


  1. Awesome post! You rock! I bought Obsidian for my Nook today and my physical copy should be in by Saturday!

  2. Yes.

    To all of the above.

  3. Awesome post! It truly blows my mind that you have doubts.
    Thanks for the insights!

  4. Jennifer!!! Oh my gosh. I <3 you. This is often.

  5. I.E. Leigh is the author I sort of drooled on who blurbed me. LOL

  6. Great post!

    So true on every level. :)

  7. This is a bomb post. I like you, lots... so I admit I started writing a story... and my girl Brooke has been reading it. And honestly I don't think it'll end up anywhere. But I love this post. And I feel like it's REAL insight into the writing world. So thank you. You are the best. And yes, I'm still addicted to your books. :) <3

  8. I love this post, and mostly, your honesty! I write just for the joy of it and even -I- have days where I can't get the words out. Then there are those magical days where you reread what you wrote and you're moved/crying. That is magic.

    Thanks for this post, Jennifer. You give some great advice to the writers out there who aren't sure what it all holds. :)

  9. This honestly has to be the best writers post ever! Seriously, it feels so raw and you are speaking from your heart. Thanks so much for this!!!

  10. Thank you so much for writing this post. I can't even tell you how much better it made me feel. I currently stuck in that first part. I have those crazy kangaroo days where everything just clicks and I love writing and I am sure my work is awesome and then those days where I think I hate it. I have been querying for about a month now and with every rejection I'm getting more and more convinced that is must not be as good as I thought. I don't know any other writers or really have any one to read it and tell me what they think except the hubby but he's too nice, or too well trained, to say anything mean so constructive criticism is hard to come by, as is an honest outside opinion. But by the end of your post I was smiling and feeling a lot better. Its good to know I'm not the only one who feels like that sometimes. Guess it's time to dive back into my synopsis and try again. Thanks again! And BTW I absolutely LOVED halfblood and I am really looking forward to Obsidian. Congratulations :)

  11. LOVE this!!!!! You should have Alex kick the **** out of your self doubt, because you are AWESOME. :)

  12. Aspiring writer here! I think this is the best answer I've ever read to the "
    Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?" question. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post.

    PS: ZOMG Yay Obsidian *buys* ^__^

  13. I seriously love everything you write. I loved Half-blood, I just got Obsidian on my Kindle AND bought it in paperback (I loved it by the way I put all of the homework I had to do aside just so I could read it)I really can't wait for your next releases and I wish I was a book blogger so I could tell the world how awesome your books are !!!!!

  14. Holy buttered biscuits I nearly peed myself reading this. In a word...AWESOME! In two words...FREAKIN AWESOME! You are my hero Miss Jennifer. No hold barred truth with a side of special sauce. Thank you so much for this post.