I can see the end of this latest bout of revisions. I can see it. It’s been a long hard road with this novel and it feels amazing to almost be done.
I’ve been actively writing for over four years now. Poetry, short stories, and a novel. And it’s been a strange trip. Right now I feel a certain kind of confidence about the publishing industry, about the mechanics of writing, and about where I am currently in my career and where I’m going. But it wasn’t easy. And there’s still room to grow.
But I got to thinking, about the path it took for me to get here. And I realized there are 5 stages of being a writer.*
(I may or may not have been through these stages more than once.)
*Now with more gifs/video/awesomesauce
An idea is born!! Holy shit. You’re going to write a novel. Amazonian Vampire Mechs who invade the planet Mars and turn it’s inhabitants into zombies! It’s going to be awesome. Your mind swirls with possibilities. You’re going to be rich. Filthy J.k.Rowling rich. And famous. The paparazzi are totally going to follow you. You’ll be so rich you’ll entire mansion is going to be filled with gold furniture and you’re going to have a diamond studded robot dog.
It’s going to be awesome.
My life is going to change in less than a year.
I can’t wait.
2) The child
My mom, significant other, even my cat tells me my idea is awesome. Writing is easier than I thought. It’s so freeing to write whatever pops into my head. I’ll even add a subplot involving a talking parrot. AND I’LL ADD VAMPIRE PIRATES TOO! Maybe even throw in some star wars references as well. Why do other people worry so much about plotting? They just need to let it happen, get weird, and let loose. OMG YES. The fanfic that’s going to be written..the youtube fan videos that will be made. I can’t even..omg I want it all it’s tasty goodness.
My book will change the world.
3) The teenager (aka the beatnik, aka the Riggs)
Holy shit. You just attended your first critique group/writing conference/etc and got slaughtered. Your writing is covered in more red than Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill. What happened? Plus they said I need a twitter, facebook, and blog? What’s that got to do with writing? I don’t want to be a sheep! And they said I need to know my genre? My main character is twelve but all the other characters are elderly. All I know is my book is a fiction novel. Who cares about what I can compare it too. Why does it matter? I want people, any people to read it. It defies genre!! I don’t want to play by the industry rules, man! Fuck the system! I’ll do what I want! Why even bother reading other books? Mine’s the only one that matters. I live by my own set of rules! When did writing like become so complicated? Isn’t it supposed to be about the craft, the art of the written word, man? As long as it’s gets published and gets me lots of money, to hell with everything else. And besides, if the system doesn’t want me, I’ll be a renegade and publish myself! I don’t need them!
4) The Adult
Maybe your critique group/beta readers/etc weren’t full of shit. Hell, Jack Kerouac was for the Vietnam war and eventually Riggs learned to play by at least some of the rules. It’s time to grow up.
You do your research and then find a new favorite author who writes in your genre! Okay. Maybe you’re protagonist isn’t twelve but in her late 30’s which is like 1,000 years old in intergalactic years. You discover that there is a TON of free writer advice on blogs. FREE. You make other writer friends. You discover tweeting is super fun. And you learn the rules. You get a feedly to follow all your favorite writing blogs. You realize you don’t have to change everything your critique partners suggest, but you at least vow to consider it. You start a blog. And you learn that revision and rewrites aren’t dirty words. You realize the publishing industry is first and foremost a business. And like with any other job, your work needs to be presentable before you start querying agents. You also know what querying means.
Or maybe you made the informed decision to self publish. You did your research on what that entails, the pros and cons, and made a real adult decision about your career. Bravo! Maybe you even make friends with other self-pubbers, and now you all can guide and support each other through the process. Whether agent or self-pub, you’re on your way!
5) The old man/woman
You’ve been published. You’ve reached the heights of success. Your name is now used by the newborns as a status to achieve. You’ve done it all. You can barely remember your life before being published it’s been so long. What is there left to do? Publish under a pen name, try and totally different genre. Sure you’re known for thrillers but why not try YA? Shake up your fan base.
Maybe you could create a whole new series with a whole new character! Something the world’s never seen before! I’ll be even more famous than before! Yes! MOAR FANS! MOAR MONEY! It will be glorious! My idea is like a newborn baby..
Or you could become a recluse.
There you have it. I don’t think the path is the same for everyone. I think writers, myself included, jump around the first 4 stages quite a bit.
What stage are you willing to admit you’re in? I’ll go first, right now I’m in stage 4.