There's no other way to start this post than to say, I'm tired of people telling me that my writing is just a hobby. I'm tired of people asking how my "book stuff" is going, only to be cut off at the third word. But mostly, I'm tired of not being taken seriously (this is not to say people don't, as I have many friends and family members who support me 100%).
Over the past couple weeks, I've heard more words of scorn than I care to admit, which is either strange timing or I've just been around more people lately. While it does sting, I also feel that perhaps this is because people just don't understand it. So, let's talk about what writing means to me.
It's not a hobby - it's an all-day job. If I'm not physically writing, then I'm thinking about what I want to write, or researching book material, or handling the endless marketing demands. It's a lot of work, but I absolutely love it. It keeps me entertained, focused, and happy. Unfortunately, I'm not as organized as I'd like to be, but I'm working on it.
For example, my extremely efficient note-keeping process often looks like this:
I know, you're blown away by my awesome organization. But hey, it got me this far, right?
The randomness has a lot to do with my writing process in general. Because books and characters and storylines are always on my mind, those thoughts get transferred to paper or email at odd times. I read an interview with Stephen King once (I think it was him) where he said that he gets images, flashes of pictures and quotes, but he doesn't write them down. If he doesn't remember them down the line, then they weren't good enough to write about. I've tried to adopt that philosophy as well, but some stuff you just have to get out of your head before it's too late.
I've definitely improved with the clutter, and throughout the years I've become a better writer (I think, anyway), which has cut down a lot on the random pieces of paper. With everything going on with the Helping Hands series, I figured I'd go through my writing cabinet for the fun of it. Let's just say I was pretty surprised at what I found. I didn't realize I was so non-environmentally concerned when I was younger and I'm shocked my parents let me waste that much paper printing out the first two Helping Hand books for editing. See?
The stack on the left is The Helping Hands. On the right is The Iron Fist: Legacy of the Helping Hands.
Just for fun, this is the very first draft of The Helping Hands.
Also, when going through this ginormous stack of papers, I found my collection of rejection letters. Ah, the rejection letter. It's bad enough being laughed at by people right in front of you, but it's downright discouraging to get letter after letter that basically says, "We're sure you're awesome, but no thanks." These days, you mostly get an agent/publisher by being incredibly lucky, knowing someone, or being famous. Even knowing this, it doesn't stop me from trying to be one of the lucky ones while doing it all myself. I'm not sure why I've kept these letters, other than to one day be able to look back and say, "In your face!" to everyone who rejected me. Yes, just like a child.
Here is my stack of letters (imagine this stack tripled, as I have even more in email form and some letters were likely thrown away throughout the years):
It's not always easy to keep writing knowing how many forces are constantly working against you, but I figure, if you love it enough, then no one or thing can hold you back. Not rejections, not people laughing at you, not random strangers acting like what you do is no big deal.
Because, you see, writing to me isn't a hobby or a job or a favorite pasttime. It's who I am, part of me. So when you ask how my "book stuff" is going, let me tell you. Maybe you think it's boring, maybe you think it's insignificant. And that's okay. But it's important to me, and it's the one thing I love to talk about (except Sir Whisky, of course). I don't talk much, but I'll happily tell you about my writing. If you're willing to listen.