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Archive for October 28th, 2011
Fantastic exercise at my writers’ group last night, perhaps aided by a margarita or two due to the last-minute switch from Noodles and Company to Chevy’s. We were given a series of six questions meant to explore who we are as writers and who we want to be as writers. I figured it would be fun to throw the questions out to a larger crowd and explore the answers a little. These questions have been taken and modified from Aine Greaney’s Writer with a Day Job, which has unquestionably become the next book about writing I need to read.
Question: I was to be the kind of writer who…
I’ve been thinking about this lately, often right here in the blog, as I’ve seen more and more of the community of writers who exist out there. Who revel in successes and take time to help those who are on the way up. My answer for this was that I want to be the kind of writer who remembers starting out and remembers that writing successes are not a zero sum game. This was an interesting question, because it was the one that got the widest variety of answers. Largely because the phrasing is rather wide open.
Question: I want to be known for…
The questions were all looking for our end goal dreams as a writer. How far were we reaching? Why are we doing what we’re doing? It’s fine if you only ever want to be a hobbyist writer, the questions weren’t meant to judge how far you wanted to get as a writer, just explore. To this one I answered, “settings.” I can’t imagine setting a story in the real world. I spend far too much time there to then site down and make it the focus of my writing. The closest I’ve come was setting a story in modern-day DC, but infesting it with the horsemen of the apocalypse and various angels and demons. And that’s likely the closest I’ll ever come. The three novels I’m working through outlining are set in an alternate 1870s in a state that never existed, the late 2070s in a Tysons that never will be, and Xibalba. Good ole Xibalba.
Question: My ultimate goal as a writer is…
This was a hard one. The answer wasn’t hard, I just put down “success.” But then I got pegged with the follow-up question about how I defined success. First, as a defense of the answer, I’m not really ashamed to say that I want to be successful as an author. My own definition was really outlined in the previous questions. Success for me includes being able to live, if not fully, but at least partially on my writing. It means being able to go into a bookstore and seeing my name. It means being invited to conventions, maybe even being a guest of honor one crazy future day. It all seems really daunting right now, but that was the point of the questions.
Because the questions weren’t about getting answers. The questions are about setting directions. Figuring out waypoints. So you want to be a successful writer, what’s the first step along that road? For a lot of us starting out, the answer is the blindingly obvious: writing. Yet that was a hard realization for myself as a writer, one that I came to only about a year ago. And one that I know others are just coming to. Step two, the one I’m working on now, is putting myself out there. Getting stories out to anthologies. Right now it’s getting my brain back into novel mode, while not letting my short stories grow moss. It’s churning, it’s grinding, and yes, it’s work.
So I’ve thrown those three questions out there. I’d be interested to see what answers other people have.