Friday, June 6, 2008

The Life

I’m a writer. I have always been and Gods willing, I will always be. I am driven by voices and powered by demons. All are purged from my system when I shape pixels into words or put pen to paper. Below are a few observations from my personal journey to publication.

You have to develop a relatively thick skin early on if you hope to survive the induction process. Separation between you and your work is the only way to maintain your sanity through the multitude of rejections that seem to mark the beginning of most of our careers.

The one publisher who says yes, definitely makes up for the throngs who said no before them. Even then, you can’t be too emotionally vested in your manuscript. Why? Because the first time you see it again after acceptance, it will likely be bleeding to death. The editorial process can be a shock, particularly the first time around. Yes, it’s an arduous process, but the end result is not only a better book to give to the public, but a better knowledge of what does and doesn’t pass for good writing. If you can take that knowledge and apply it to subsequent books, you’ll find that your next foray into the revision process will be much easier.

Be proud of what you accomplished, but don’t be surprised if it falls in the hands of someone who, though clearly blind to your evident brilliance and top notch artistic style, thinks your book is less than stellar. You can’t please all the people all the time. Hell, you can’t even please all the people some of the time. If you’re lucky, you will at least please some of the people some of the time. These are the ones that will become your fan base. Without them, we are just writing into the void. It’s the loyal readers who will keep us going in the face of bad reviews and wan ratings.

We need more than readers to keep us afloat though. A network of likeminded friends and colleagues is a must. Every career needs a support group, people to turn to who truly understand the problems you’re having and quite possibly have the insight to help you get through them.

Also, I feel obliged to remind any aspiring writers out there to be careful where you place your trust. There are sharks in them there waters. Before you sign a contract with an agent or publisher, be sure they are on the up and up. Scam artists abound on the fringes of our wonderful industry. Do your research.

I could go on, but I feel a bit as if I’m just reiterating the points already so eloquently stated by my fellow writers on this blog. Perhaps, I should end with a poem with a message that sums up everything I’ve discussed above, but hopefully you will find a bit more entertaining.

A Writer's Journey
I answer the call
From my inner voice.
When the muse tickles my ear,
I have no choice,
But to put pen to paper, fingers to keys.
And so, the journey begins
With eyes so bright.
Innocence abounds
As my imagination takes flight.
The masterpiece takes shape
And my mind reaches for the stars.
I envision interviews with Leno
And my prose read in bars.
The book is complete.
I hold it up with trembling hands.
The only thing left
Is for it to find its way to the fans.
I drop queries in the mail
And hope for the best.
My patience and resolve,
Will soon be put to the test.
Still the fantasy remains.
I will be the next big thing.
My fame will surpass
Anne Rice or even Stephen King.
Days, weeks, and months go by
Without so much as a word.
At last, I receive a letter
Address, written in my hand.
It is addressed to dear author
And they're not buying.
Well, what do they know?
I will be published in no time,
Just you wait and see.
The responses picked up speed,
I will give them that.
I had a dozen rejections,
In no time flat.
Don't let it get you down kid,
You've written a best seller.
We just have to find it a home,
Get it in front of the right feller.
My innocence has been replaced
With apprehension.
My sleep is still filled,
With the first timer’s dreams.
My words will be read
And hearts will be moved,
Emotions will be stirred.
With a single book,
I could change the world.
Someone, somewhere will read my words
And will be inspired to do great things.
I dream of a series of books,
crossing all genres.
I dream of books on CD
And book signings,
With throngs of people waiting
For a signature or at least a glimpse.
I dream of an adoring public
That falls so hard for my characters,
They become a household name.
All of this and more I dream.
No matter what happens,
I will always have my dreams.
My dreams are not goals,
They are fantasies and as such,
They will never be crushed.
I am a slave to the muse,
A whore for her voice.
I am a man that hears voices.
I argue with myself
And put it on paper.
I am a visionary,
A dreamer,
A fiend for the written word.
I am a writer.

And with that, I wish you all a happy weekend.


  1. This I loved: A fiend for the written word.
    I am a writer.

    Excellent poem and a Goodman original at that. Yes, I can tell. Your voice is unique. So have you heard from King yet???

  2. lol, Mona. :D

    Aw, thanks, Kelly. Most of my earliest attempts at writing were poetry, so it seemed somehow fitting. :D

    Yes, I heard from him and the short of it is that he's flattered, but doesn't think he will be able to supply the blurb. sigh...

  3. Hey James, Correction: " I am driven by voices and powered by demons AND RAKSHOSIS" :)

    You are absolutely right. Writing is just the first half of the story. The second half is purely business, the business of publishing and selling...

    I heard that Picasso burnt half his masterpieces to keep himself warm...

    There are many a writers out there who have suffered abject penury and touched the rock bottom & tasted the dregs.Some have become stars overnight too. Some have been able to see fame only in prime of their lives & some have not lived to see their fame at all, fame that came in posthumously.

    I love your poem here :) .

    Do you know I am more of a poet than a prose writer? Check one of my poems Here

  4. Eloquantly put, Mona. and thank you for the kind words. I'm off to check out your poetry. :D

  5. EXCELLENT!!! Also an eloquent view of writing.

  6. Wow. Just... Wow.

    Glad I don't have to follow that one. (wink)

  7. Thank you, Anny. :D

    lol, Cindy. There's a lot to be said for going last. The post has evolved as I read all of the other wonderful entries. :D

  8. Great poem James! Can I print it out and post it above my computer? A reminder to my family...

    Sorry about King, but how fantastic he responded!

  9. lol, Absolutely, Molly. Print away. :D

  10. This is so perfectly said, James! I think, in the beginning, we tend to see visions of fame and glory but after those first few rejections, we begin to rethink things. Now it's all about meeting those deadlines, learning the biz, and producing ANYTHING that someone might want to buy. Acclaim, making the bestseller list, are faraway things to me now, but that's okay as long as I can write and enjoy the fellowship of other writers. This is the LIFE! the poem.
    Hugs my friend!

  11. Thanks, Regina. You are spot on. This truly is the life and I can't imagine it any other way. :D


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