Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Am I a writer yet?

What is a writer? Is it a person who writes or a person who writes and is read?

On 30 March 2009, I finished writing my first novel, which I had started back in August 2007. I hadn't been working on it solidly during that time, but in bursts of activity. Finally, early this year, my fiance told me that he wanted me to finish it before my birthday, which happened on 1 April 2009. So I did. Thank goodness for supportive partners, right?

After that, I started sending it off to agents. The thing is, the agent concept is very confusing. Do you go one at a time? Some agents will reject you if you don't. But then some agents won't ever reply, so how long do you give them before approaching another? It's all very hard to say. I'm taking the gently-gently approach, but I might change that as things move on and no responses come back in. The only response I've had so far was emailed to me four days after I popped the letter in the post, and so I didn't feel that it had reached the desk of the powers that be. Of course, I discovered later that I'd forgotten to double space the last two chapters, so I'm telling myself that was why they rejected it. Hey, it works for me.

It also seems that cover letters must list one's publications. The whole point is that I'm not published, and it's my first book. Somewhere, in the process of writing my first book, I should also have been writing short stories and getting them published in magazines or winning competitions with them. So I've started on that as well. Nine of my stories, some of which are the kind of thing I enjoy writing, some of which are not, are out there floating in the ether being considered by various magazines. It seems that willing them to be accepted may not be enough, as I received my very first rejection slip today.

And, of course, in order not to focus on the success or failure of my first book, I've started another. And another. And another. And another. Yes, I have four new books currently underway, and it is making me feel a little unfocussed. One I loved the idea for, but just can't seem to get it going. The other I find pours out of me as easily as breathing, but I'm not really enjoying writing it. It's a bit more serious than what I usually write, and it's a lot harder to inject some humour into it to keep it readable. The third is just an idea at this stage, focussing primarily on the joys or otherwise of being thirty, and it's probably the closest thing to being autobiographical. And the one that is keeping me up at night wondering about it is the fourth one, a story about three women, told from various perspectives.

So, am I a writer? I write every spare second I get, and I love it. Writing puts me into a relaxed, energised and happy mood. But, conversely, I don't want to think that no one is ever going to read what I write. Part of the joy is thinking that they will. I know I have a long way to go, and probably thousands of rejection slips to read, but it would be encouraging if something positive came back.

Does being published make me a writer, or can I be a writer without being published? Do I want to be a writer without being published? Could I stop writing even if I wanted to? Am I overestimating the joy of being read and seeing my work slated on Amazon?

Anyway, enough questions. I gotta go write.

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