Do you feel respect for your writing? Especially when you can’t place yourself in the successful rack? Or you’ve been there, done that, but couldn’t seem to climb back up?
I cannot really remember when I ever had control of my personal life. It is always about responsibilities amounting and overwhelming and a day each, one-step-then-two… to survive. It’s always been a hurdle to my writing career, in that I have to write because I need to earn, not because I had to write. Do you know what I mean? On the other hand, I cannot stop writing. No buts and whys. I cannot.
The only other thing wherein I used to have a semblance of control was when I was writing. But living the way that I was living, with people around me who are not readers or writers like myself, and pattern in my writing history showing writing doesn’t make you rich or even comfortable however many thousands of readers you have (Welcome to the Philippines in the dark ages before eReaders!), make many in the immediate vicinity unbelievers.
See what I mean? Any real writer who’s seen this roaming around will laugh but then with that tiny little edge at the end of the sound suspiciously sounds like you’re about to cry.
I’ve come to the point in my writing career when you can identify me as the ‘homeless writer’ because my desk is everywhere, all my notes on my OneNote, all my inspirations in the air, all my aspirations in my spirit, and all my printing fund in borrowers’ hands. So, basically, I’m fucked.
Oh no. There’s Amazon. So I am not really as fucked.
But what I’m trying to say is, I know there’s a lot of you out there who couldn’t possibly be as screwed as me. There is some basic, experienced-based advice a 20 year in the run writer like me needs to impart to you. By any chance, you already know this. But, for the love of God, these are the most important things, especially if you are a real writer, and you can’t possibly ignore the writing Gringe when it comes to you, at any point in your life, at any time of the day, typically 24/7. Gringe, I’m telling you. It’s not a muse, it’s a Gringe!
1. Have a writing space, goddammit.
Don’t ever think this isn’t important. In the US, every kid has their own room, so it is so, so easy to make one corner of the room your safe writing space. You can sleep there, drool over a particularly genius twist, wring your fingers or pull at your hairs because of a particularly complicated plot, or laugh evilly as you get into your heinous antagonist character, without anyone thinking you’re going crazy. You can stay in that space if you haven’t bathed for three days.
But at least throw out your hotdog wrappers or the empty pizza box. That’s just gross, even the cat won’t respect you.
2. Be fiercely protective of your project until it’s truly done.
You see, with the advent of social media, Wattpad and electronic readers, we’ve come to the point when it is so easy… so easy… to send out your work to the clouds prematurely. We’ve become a slave of instant gratification. We’ve been posting excerpts before we’re done with chapter 5… most of the time it’s to prove we’re working.
Why are we so defensive? Why are we into this psychotic competition crap with ourselves? Who do we hurt the most in showing raw, unfinished work?
On the other hand, many writers thrive on collaboration, and if you are like them, don’t mind number 2. ‘Coz who could be stupid enough to upload or print books that are not finished and done. Right?
3. Be humble.
There are so many things a writer can say or give advice to ‘how to become a novelist’ but there is this one that will send you along in the long-term. Be humble. I have known of no other people who could easily fall into the trap of ‘I’m better, I’m the best’ than writers. You know why? Because it’s a counter-measure for the many numbers of rejections we’ve received and are still to receive, which also means you’ve worked about three months for a novel and you’ve got no money to buy groceries for the next day anymore. It’s so scary being a writer. But we have no choice. Do we? Aaaaargh! It’s a never-ending story!
So keep reading your favorite authors — the ones who’d guided you into finding your writing voice, keep writing, keep learning new writing techniques, explore other genres, and don’t let the ego drips get too much (sometimes, milktea helps). Stay humble, because too much pride can color your quality of work and your emotions.
So, folks, that’s it for now. My desk (right now the laptop stand on my bed) is calling on me to… I think the shower is hollering, too. Keep up the life and I’ll catch you again!