By Susan DiPlacido
You are a writer.
No. Not yet. You want to be a writer. You know you can be a writer. So here’s your intricate, long-thought, grand plan to accomplish this.
So you do. Put ass in chair, hit the keys, and turn that white page into a blur of intentioned, clever, and compelling words. Words that string to sentences, sentences to characters, characters creating plot and problems, littered with jokes and allegory and metaphor and any other trick in your arsenal.
Write and keep writing and then when you’re tired, write some more.
|Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido|
You’re still combing the pages you’ve typed but in between you start the research. It’s all a new blur. Queries and critique groups and agents and publishers. Meanwhile, you’re still punching the clock every day because even though you’re going to be a writer and work on your own time, for now, you still have to work on their time to pay for the electric to run your laptop which will be an instrumental tool to bring you this new glorious life where you’ll be able to eat caviar and have champagne wishes or whatever that Brit pudge used to say, but for now you still have to do the grind and won’t be celebrating with Cristal on the first go-round but just a decent bottle of vodka you splurged for when you knew you were getting close to finishing your masterwork.
But, for now, still, though the pages are polished, the vodka sits in the cupboard, unopened. Because for now, still, you’re sending out the queries and having others read your pristine opus and give you advice. Some it, the advice, it’s good. Some of it, the advice, it just pisses you off. Some of it, it’s really rough. In those instances, you have a choice to make. Choice one is to pansy out. Obviously, this wasn’t for you. Stop now while you’re not out anything but some time and rethink this whole plan. That’s choice one.
Here’s choice two.
Suck it up and be a writer, baby.
Suck it up, drink it down, take it all in, and keep going.
That’s the choice you make.
The rejections pile up. When they come in, that is. More often, you send out the carefully worded letter that you’ve gone over at least 300 times. You spend hours, days, weeks researching who handles the genre you’ve written. Who would be interested. Mostly, who would help bring you success. Still, you keep going to work because you have to pay for the ink and the paper and the copies and the postage for all these mailings you send out and rarely ever even get a form rejection about.
Still, the rejections that do come, they pile up.
Change your aim. It’s like a bullseye, see. You were going for dead center, but it’s time to work out in concentric circles. One ring, the slightly smaller fish. Two rings, more rejections. Three rings, more queries sent out into the void with no response. Meanwhile the critiques keep coming back. Change this character. Delete this paragraph. Eviscerate your soul! Okay. That wasn’t a real one. It just feels that way. Okay, it doesn’t feel that way. It stings a bit, but now you’re becoming a writer and so you’re prone to hyperbole, particularly when it comes to your own experiences and emotions tied to this manuscript.
One more ring out from the center of the bullseye and nothing good happens. You hit the outer perimeter and finally, mercifully, a positive response.
Consider the celebratory vodka.
First, there are revisions. These aren’t the same revisions your critique group suggested. Most revert things back to the original. You could scream, but instead you just sigh because you didn’t keep the original masterwork, you incorporated changes directly into the original file so now you’ve got to type it all back in.
But that’s okay. In fact, it’s great. You’re almost there.
For now, soon at least -- vodka, but, someday, champagne.
Make the revisions, submit the book and then, just as you’re thinking of cracking that vodka, in comes the note. Don’t relax yet. First, there’s cover design, and then checking the typesetting. Those are fun. Then there’s promotion. You have to do all this promotion.
What does this entail, exactly? You don’t know? You should know. You need to do it. Do it all. Line up blog tours, book readings, contact local media, make press kits, set up a website, a blog, facebook. Tweet.
Tweet what exactly?
Okay! This is what you have to do.
You have to keep getting up in the mornings and punching the clock and making the money so you can afford the website and electricity so that you can run your laptop and your cell so you can tweet and poke people because this is promotion.
Meanwhile, the vodka waits. Patiently.
You are a writer now. You have a book being published. You can get away with assigning emotions to inanimate objects. For real. It’s in the rules. Look it up. But there’s always some douche in your critique group who’s not abreast of the full writers’ repertoire and who calls you on it. Him saying, vodka can’t be patient, blah blah. Ignore him.
Finally, the day comes and you hold a copy of your book in your hands. This should make it real.
But still, tomorrow, you have to punch in and so the vodka must wait because after you punch out for the day, you have to get on your laptop and blog and then check for reviews and then tweet something.
Did I mention this yet?
You do not like to tweet. You do not like to blog. You do not like to poke people. You do not like some of the reviews you get back. Some are good, yes. But some, not so much.
But you have a choice. Here’s option one. Don’t do it. Don’t do it and no one will ever know about your book and it won’t sell and then you’ll be a writer but not one with champagne and caviar, and most important, not one with readers.
Therefore, choose option two.
Choke it down, suck it up, take what you can use from the crap reviews and spin them into tweets and poke people about the really good ones and then make up silly responses for interviews and update your website and hope people will be enticed to read your book.
That’s when you decide on something else. This big blur, all this typing and mailing and social connecting, the payoff will be, literally, the payoff. That first royalty check. That’s when it’s all going to be time to sit down, finally, take a breath, and drink that vodka.
Meantime, you’ve got a new idea. A better idea than the one for your first book. It’s got a strong hook. So here’s the plan:
Sit down and start writing. Again.
Punch the clock, come home, plug in the laptop, keep typing as long as you can, send out a tweet, or on a good day a blog post, and then get up in the morning and do it all again.
Days, weeks, months go by. Finally, it arrives. The royalty check from your first masterwork has arrived. Tear open the envelope, look inside. Then look again.
Swallow hard. Blink rapidly.
The total on this first royalty check? It’s not enough to cover a single shot from your supposed celebratory bottle.
So here’s what you do. Put ass in chair and keep on writing. Send a tweet, post new chapters to be critiqued.
Quietly, forlorn, your celebratory bottle of vodka sighs.
You know what happens next.
The bullseye, the concentric circles going out, farther and farther. More mailings, more rejections, all while punching in every day. Douche in critique nails you for inconsistencies in the plot but he’s wrong, he’d misread a section. You could scream. But you don’t. Just sigh to yourself, just like your lonesome vodka bottle and then thank him for his time. Then find a publisher and prove the douche wrong and then tweet about it and your new cover and start blogging about the new book after you update your website.
This time, when the royalty check comes, it stings less but somehow disappoints more.
You know what happens next. Except this time, there’s a change. New idea, typing, that stays the same. Bullseye, circles out, that’s all the same. What stops is punching in every day. Economy’s bad and you are no longer required to punch in. Ever. Good thing you’ve got those fat royalty checks that’ll be rolling in any day now.
You are not thinking that sarcastically, by the way. You see this as an opportunity. Just keep typing. Just keep tweeting. Keep mailing. Keep critiquing.
Repeat for a total of ten years. Seven books.
Still, no readers.
Sometimes, people ask, what do you do? And you say, shyly, that you write.
There are three responses you routinely get.
Response one: I could be a writer, too! I know I could. Just think to yourself, then put your ass in the chair and do it, bitch. But say to them, I know you could, so you should. Encourage, kindly. Nod as they go on.
Response two: Have I got a story for you! Just nod and listen to their wild story that is nothing like The Hangover even though they think it’s box office gold.
Response three: Have you written anything I’ve heard of. Reply sheepishly but honestly – probably not. They’ll lose interest immediately and you’ll question whether or not you really are a writer.
That’s when it happens.
The whole country, suddenly, it’s reading a book. Not one of your books. Oh no. But a book like yours. The genre is the same. The content is similar.
Critique douche, again with the snark, he smirks with the news and slyly insinuates that yours is actually better.
You could punch him. You could scream.
But you don’t.
Instead, you chose another option.
Go home, and finally, finally, take that break, enjoy the moment and crack open that bottle of vodka.
Pour the shot, drink it down, and soak it in. Enjoy it.
Because you now realize that the champagne won’t ever come. Maybe, sadly, the readers won’t either. The vodka is slightly bitter. Not because you’ve waited so long to drink it. It’s just a bottle, it doesn’t have complex emotions like that. It just tastes slightly bitter.
It’s bitter because you know critique douche is right. Even if he takes deranged glee in it, you take some satisfaction. Yours is better than the bestseller. You worked just as hard. It’s just not happening for you. You don’t care about the lack of champagne. But you do miss the readers.
All these words, all these ideas, all these stories, all these books you’ve written. It’s like you’re underwater and screaming but no one can hear you. Like you’re screaming for your life.
Again, with the writer’s hyperbole there.
Seriously, get a grip. This is not your life at stake.
But it is supposed to be your living.
Now, these are your options.
You could just stop. Stop now. It’s not going to happen. No matter how much you type or blog or tweet or query. Finish this bottle of vodka that’s tasting smoother by the sip and then go to bed and get up and find somewhere new to punch in and make a decent wage again.
That is exactly what you could do. Should do. What a normal person would do.
But you do not.
You chose the second option.
You put ass in chair and start to type.
Because you are a writer.
But you do finish that bottle of vodka first.
Please visit her online at www.susandiplacido.com or www.susandiplacido.blogspot.com.
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