Rambles on Writing

I have been thinking about why I want to be a writer. Actually, I am a writer. I write every day. I just haven’t figured out how to take what I write and polish it up so that anyone would pay me for it.

Part of being a professional writer is figuring out who your audience is and what publisher has made it their business to serve that audience. I say this because when I think about self publishing it makes me shiver. It sounds like way too much work that consists of lots of things other than writing.

In the conventional publishing paradigm, you provide a sufficiently sale-able manuscript and the publisher hires an editor and a copy editor and a book designer and a publicist and an army of other professionals that contribute to making your book a product that people will buy.

If you self publish, you generate a manuscript and then you either have to do all those other jobs your self or independently contract with people to do them for you. And they want to be paid up front. They don’t draw a salary like all those professionals that work for a conventional publisher.

Truth be told, I’m getting the cart before the horse. I haven’t learned to write well enough to worry about getting anything published. I know that the only way to learn to write is to practice. I’ve written fifty thousand words during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on several occasions thus, nominally, writing a novel.

But the truth is, those so called novels weren’t complete. They didn’t have a beginning, middle, and end. They didn’t have an engaging plot or well developed characters. They each were better than the previous attempt though. I guess that’s why I keep doing it.

So, why do I want to be a published author? I want to earn enough money from it so that I can do it full time. Is that it? I keep thinking that it isn’t about money and it isn’t. But I do have to eat and feed my family. I thought I had a plan that would do that. Then the stock market dipped and my 401K lost a lot of its value.

It was partly my fault. I was still investing aggressively in an attempt to make up for not investing enough when I was younger. That was because I was never taught how to invest. I was taught very little about finance. That’s why, when I think about self publishing I shudder. I don’t have the business skills and I don’t know how to get them. I don’t even know if I want to get them. I’m a bit obstinate about things like that sometimes.

I used to think I wanted to be a professional musician. Thank goodness I came to my senses about that. I also flirted with a career as an actor. I discovered I didn’t have a big enough ego for that. I’m not saying all actors have an over inflated ego, just a lot of them. Most of the more successful ones do. The ones that have more reasonable egos often end up directing or producing instead of acting.

I never planned to be a programmer. It was just something that I enjoyed. I was good at it. I was in the right place at the right time. I got into the business before there were many colleges that offered Computer Science degrees. By the time there were, I had already established myself as a programmer. I had a degree. Eventually, I had a degree in Computer Science. I don’t think it ever got me a job.

So, back to the question at hand. Why do I want to be a writer? I want to be in charge of my own destiny. I want to leave something of myself for future generations. I have an overly romantic image of what it means to be a writer. Maybe all of these things. Maybe reasons I just haven’t been able to put my finger on yet.

One thing is certain. I will keep writing. It is a compulsion. I sit down at my computer and words come out of my fingers. I am still learning how to shape them into something that I can sell but that will just take practice.

Be safe. Stay home. Wear a mask when you have to be close to other people. Keep social distance when you can. This virus may be over soon but I’m afraid this is just the first of many. We need to learn how to keep ourselves safe from them.