We have as guest writer today, Deanna Klingel, successful author of five books published by different publishers with three more to be released soon. Deanna lives in Sapphire Valley, NC with her husband and a rescued golden retriever. She is a member of NCWN West as well as other literary organizations. She admits she was a late starter in the world of publishing, but she hit the ground running and was a quick learner. Her advice is for all of us who write and want to write. Take note.
“So What’s it Like to be a Writer?”
My signing table was inside the Low Country Museum in Yemassee, South Carolina. I’d had a lot of fun that Saturday talking to families and signing books for their middle graders. During a quiet few minutes a chubby boy wrapped in his puffy winter coat and toboggan hat paused and looked at my table. I guess he was eight, maybe nine.
“So, what’s it like to be a writer?” he asked. He caught me off guard and I didn’t have a quick reply. The usual question from precocious kids is “Do authors make a lot of money?” for which there is a quick answer.
“Well,” I thought aloud, “I spend a lot of time alone listening to voices talking in my head.”
“Yes!” he said. “That’s how it is for me, too. Whenever I get sent to my room alone, my head talks to me. When I get mad, it even talks more. And loud.”
“Hmm,” I said. “Maybe when you get mad you should write.”
“I guess you’re right,” he said. “That’s what I'll do. Next time I get sent to my room and I'm mad I'm going to write me a book. How many pages should it be?”
How many pages should it be? Whose voice should it be? What style should it be written in? What font should I use? New writers all worry about should. Should I send it to a publisher? Should I staple it? Should I get a Mac?
Even accomplished writers who participate on the online writers groups are often still asking should I? Should I change genre, should I use a pen name, should I have an agent, should I blog, should my main character turn out to be a bad guy? Should I use semi colons?
I’m not exactly an old timer in the publishing field.
I only started writing with a thought to publishing around 2005. My first book published in 2010. In the next few weeks book six, seven and eight will be released, all different publishers. That still makes me a relative newcomer. But I've had enough experience now that I can share some "what-I've-learned-along-the-way" suggestions.
The first thing I think you should do, is unload your shoulds. You can make yourself crazy with the angst of shoulds. There is no should. Your writing is a result of your writer voice. There can be no right or wrong to it. You should not should over it. Just write it.
Then there are things you must do. You must finish it. You must edit it. You must have another edit it. Then you must rewrite it. Then you must submit it. These aren't things you should do, these are things you must do. To submit you must do it exactly the way the publisher you’re submitting to instructs; not should, must.
Writing is easy for a writer. Writing for publication is not. It’s tedious, it’s lengthy, it’s lonely, it can get frustrating. There are so many things to learn, the more you learn the more you discover things you need to know!
You must go to conferences, workshops, take writing classes. You must. But you can make it easier on yourself if you relax and enjoy the entire process and not worry about all the shoulds. The voice in your head is yours and it must be heard. You should let it. You must. That's what it is to be a writer.
Deanna will be sharing her work at Coffee with the Poets and Writers at Blue Mountain Coffee and Grill on Wednesday, March 12, 10:30 a.m. This event is free and open to the public.