I am a frustrated would be writer. No, not in the sense that I have written tons of stuff and have failed to get it published. Frustrated in the sense that in my literary wake I have half a dozen half hearted half started books that died between pages counts 28 and 100. Sometimes I open them up and dick around with them for a bit, but months will go by between attempts. I have successfully to date completed one project - a Pratchett esq effort - which is excrementitious. Best advice I got was 'stick it in a drawer and try again in a few months.'
When I finished uni the first time I didn't know what to do. I had written a few things for the student newspaper so I figured why not write? I came to Canberra, did a course for a year, dropped out due to illness, then went and joined the public service. Starting, still with an arse long pony tail, in a mail room.
I did go back and finish the grad dip on the government dime however.
Once when my computer died I called up my then ISP (suspecting they caused it) and when the girl asked what I did I said 'I'm a writer, so it's really important you fix it.'
That is the only time I think I have ever said I was a writer to someone. And I felt like a massive wanker for doing so.
Here's a few hints for success. Don't tell people you are writing a book. Because they will ask how it's going and make you feel shit for it not going well or at all. If you absolutely have to tell someone - because say your sig other wants to spend time with you but you really want to write - tell them it's a 'ongoing writing project'. You don't sound like a wanker, it sounds worky and they won't want to read it, and it doesn't have to have a time frame for completion because it's a 'ongoing project'.
Realise that it will be shit. That's an important thing. I doubt there's a single actual writer whose been published that hasn't at one point had a mantra in their head saying 'this is shit, this is shit, this is shit' etc. Embrace that is going to happen. The trick is making it less shit after a while and to keep going (unlike me). If you do finish something realise you're too close to it and resist the urge to edit/tinker . Stick it in a drawer and walk away. Come back months later and look. All the mistakes, plot holes, dropped words, crap characters etc will leap out at you.
I wish I had accepted that advice because I did tinker here and there. It's been a while since I looked at it now and maybe I will go back. I will give it a couple more months I think.
Know that you do not have to go to uni to learn to write. Oh it helps. The course coord I got didn't. She made you not want to write. She loaded the course with fucking essays on literature then gave us exercises about writing a colour (describe a colour without using the word) and, I shit you not, try and write a story without using the letter e. Helps how? Not. Hey - no e! ... Damn.
The best how to I found - and again I stress I am not an actual writer but a frustrated would be writer - was Stephen King's On Writing. I borrowed it off a friend. I returned it with a blood stain that to this day I don't know how it got there.
The only bummer about OW was King's exhortation of discipline. You have to read, read, read then write, write, write. Devote yourself fully to the craft. I have a life - though I admit slabs of time spent watching things or playing Warlords II could be devoted to both reading and the writing. I can write - sort of. I'm not great. King pointed out you can't be great - or succeed (as with most things) - without practice. And fuck me goldfish tank thick glasses isn't right.
Blogging I think counts as practice. I hope it does. Although my technorati rating is just 11 so I am still firmly not great. Ungreat? Sucky? Well I think so. If I wasn't I'd have more people reading. Sure I get hits, but, like a Venus fly trap, I have loaded posts that people came to via google or some such. Hot firemen and cock calendars I think caused the last big spikes of visitation.
So, down to business. A lot of bloggers are firmly in the would be writer camp. I am sure many of them, faintly, Cinderella like, dream of a publisher sending them a screaming email of gush stating 'DARHLINK I WOULD LOVE TO PUBLISH YOU?!' then a career of turtleneck skivvies and drinks at launches and appearances on Sunday afternoon arts shows comes forth.
Miss Fits you suck. That's you.
Here’s another one, Julie Powell. Julie wrote Julie and Julia: My year of Cooking Dangerously.
She started blogging back in 2002, back when blogging was funky and new, and wrote about her attempts to cook all the recipes out of Julia Child’s circa 60's French cookbook in a year. I haven’t read her blog. Lots of people did though and she got a book deal out of it. Her book is more about her life with references to the blog thrown in as opposed to the blog recreated in hard copy however.
It is so, so, so fucking good that I hate her for it. Much like I hate Max Barry who, like Julie, has succeeded at the craft. Barry is younger than me too. So I probably hate him more.
This is my ultimate box ticker or praise gusher. When I come across a writer that is so good they remind me I suck and make me want to both try again and give up all together. They are paradoxically good in other words.
If you haven’t read J&J then it’s totally worth a read. To those regular bloggers, like Sarah/Gam and MB, she is our kind of people.
You will love her. And, if you’re like me, hate her too.
Julie, fuck you for your talent and your getting a book deal.