Don’t say aspiring writer, say WRITER.
Calling myself a women’s fiction writer, when I haven’t had any published books has been hard for me. Like someone is waiting to tap me on the back and say, “Um, excuse me. Don’t writers have published books?”
It’s taken me some time to get over writer imposture syndrom. My WFWA Tribe helped a lot last year. They reminded me, don’t say aspiring writer, say WRITER. Since then I have been doing just that, and it really does help.
If someone asks me to do something and I had scheduled time to write, I say, “No, I’m working.” If I want to goof off the afternoon and binge watch Dawson’s Creek (Hey, we all have our guilty pleasures) I remind myself I wouldn’t do the same if I had a 9-5 job. Writing is work whether we get paid or not.
This November, one of our local indie bookstores hosts a NaNoWriMo writer in residence table. Instead of book displays, writers schedule time to create while being the display.
As an introvert’s introvert. It surprised my family when I said I signed up for not one, but two slots. My husband asked, “How will you feel with everyone looking at you?”
That is a fair question. I don’t even like eating in front of strangers, let alone having people watch me write. Writing is a time when I feel most vulnerable and although I am owning the title WRITER better than I have in the past, it is still hard to hang up a sign and sit while the world watches me type. Then erase. Then type again. Then erase. You know, until my two hours in the window are up.
That’s the writing process, friends.
After I was finished my husband met me for lunch and asked, “Did you get a lot done.”
I shook my head. “Don’t you know you aren’t supposed to ask a writer that? It just makes us question our existence.”
He looked at me just like you would be looking at me right now if you could see me.
I explained. “If you look at actual words typed, no, I didn’t get much done. BUT! I wrote the book jacket blurb and I started on my character sheet.”
At this point I am feeling pretty good about myself. I did get a lot done. I’ve been working on the book jacket for three weeks. Refining and refining and refining. I don’t want a false start on this book because then I will sit in the middle of the book for years and wondering if I take copious notes if my kids could finish the book for me when I die.
Three weeks of work and now I know where the book starts, a little bit of how I will get from the starting point to the ending I know has to happen for my character to grow and change.
So, imagine my surprise when his response is, “I thought you already finished that?”
If I write well, my character’s story doesn’t end with the solving of one problem. Instead she signs up for a lifetime of changing. I just won’t know it, because my part of it is done.
And he’s right. I sure did finish it. Last week. And the week before last. And the week before that even. I always think I am finished and I never am. That’s the thing with writing. You aren’t ever quite finished and nor should we be able to type the end, because if a story could be wrapped up that easily it wouldn’t be believable, would it?
It doesn’t mean we don’t finish a book, if I write well, my character’s story doesn’t end with the solving of one problem. Instead, she signs up for a lifetime of changing. I just won’t know it, because my part of it is done. I gave her a platform to jump from. My part is done, and it is up to the readers to take the story further in their minds.
This happened to me recently with Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. A fantastic book that takes place in the city I now call home. At the end of Little Fires Everywhere, I imagined the characters and where they arrived at the end of the book and how they will handle future problems knowing what they do now about themselves and life and other people. It is what gives me a book hangover. I long to know how these characters I now love will face future challenges and adversity because I see myself in them.
To NaNoWriMo or Not?
While the rest of the writing world NaNoWriMo’s I will not. I will sit in my window perch (when I can) and type and erase and type and erase and type until I finally get to a point where the character can face new problems, with new eyes and new understanding.
I am not going to keep a daily word count. I am not going to win at anything this month. I am going to keep going until the story I need to tell is done.
When that happens, I will celebrate.
And not one person walking by the window of the bookstore knows whether or not I am published or not. If I have an agent or not. All they know is a writer is writing.
(Reminder I am an Amazon Affiliate. I do not get paid to review books. If you click on the links it takes you to Amazon, where if you make I purchase I receive a portion of the sale)
Do you work better with daily word counts and goals? How do you measure your progress if you don’t? Share in comments to encourage each other!