The following is the first in what I plan to be a series of guest posts from colleagues who share some insight into the writing business. This one comes courtesy of Kate Recore, a successful writer in the the San Diego area who now, along with her writing partner Erin Castelloe, is working on her first non-fiction book. The project deals with Kate’s battle with both epilepsy and the medical profession. I for one can’t wait to read it. – Rich
I’m A Writer
My shower is my office, my car my conference room, and a sink full of dishes and a basket of laundry are my coworkers. I never go home from work. I am a writer.
Immediate question pops up in your mind: What do I write? There’re many ways and reasons to put words on paper. ‘I’m a writer’ is as vague as ‘I’m a volunteer.’
My immediate answer: I write brochures, catalogs, print advertising, and website content. I get paid for copy, and that’s really what you were wondering: Do I actually have a job writing, or do I just like calling myself a writer?
Calling myself a writer is surprisingly hard. A person’s writing can entertain or even inspire, but is more often dismal. If you’re not on a bookshelf, chances are you suck. (Even if you are on a bookshelf you likely suck.)
I know this better than anyone, because I also edit. I have seen the very worst combinations of words ever typed. I’ve also seen words that belong on bestseller lists, but they’re less likely to reach print. The tortured writer is often a terrible salesperson.
I’m not tortured. I’m a born salesperson. I’ve sold everything from hairbrushes to signed Picasso prints (yes, signed BY Picasso, smartass.) But I’m an epic underachiever when it comes to self-promotion. I have barely-mailed query letters coming out my butt.
I came closest to success with screenplays. You have to be familiar with the film industry to understand that an actor you’ve heard of reading your script and an agent buying you lunch puts you near the top of that ladder. Most people don’t get that, so I rarely mention it.
I’ve also written plays, short stories, picture books, poetry, novels, magazine filler and newspaper tidbits. I’ve probably earned a total of $1000 over the last 20 years selling these things. I don’t often mention them, either.
At present I’m writing a biography. It’s boring, depressing, and self-righteous. I hate it. But my story is important. Or is it?
When I begin to doubt, I visit my Facebook page, An Electrifying Journey (shameless plug–yes, please ‘like’ me.) I start to read the messages from people beginning their struggle with epilepsy, a dragon I’ve slain. The women terrified they’ll have a seizure during pregnancy, people making their way through countless medications, parents praying for their children. I lose track of time telling them to ‘stay the course,’ to ‘know they’re not alone,’ trying to reach out and give them virtual hugs.
Yes, I have something worth writing about. It’s the story I was born to write, and in a way, it’s writing me. I wish it would be nicer, but that wouldn’t be very interesting.
I’ve decided everyone should at some point write about their lives. Some should keep it to a page, and some should write a weighty novel. Afterward, everything else will seem easy.
Even screenplays, plays, poems, short stories, picture books and novels.
– By Kate Recore