Where Are You on the Scale?

Today’s post is a little long, but well worth it. I was challenged by Joe Bunting at StoryCartel.com to talk to three writers at various stages of their careers about writing. It got me thinking about what three questions I could ask each of them. I couldn’t ask the first time published writer about how it feels to have several books published; I couldn’t ask the beginner how that first contract feels. It would be pointless to ask the established author about her career expectations when she knows what to expect at this point. No, I needed three questions that apply to all writers regardless their stage in their journey. I decided to ask them:

  1. What they found easiest about writing.
  2. What they found most difficult about writing.
  3. What one career-oriented wish they would want to have granted.

publicationI talked to three wonderful writers, and found some interesting things in their answers.

 Joy Keeney, Novice

JoyMy novice writer is Joy Keeney. Joy Keeney enjoys the sound of words swirling from her pencil to the blank pages below. She has a passion for creating stories and that can touch the heart or send chills down the spine of readers. Joy has also contributed several feature articles for a local online magazine. She enjoys spending her free time relaxing with a good book and spending time with family and friends.

Q1: What do you find easiest about writing?

Joy: Easy? There’s something easy about being a writer? As a beginner everything seems just the opposite, for me anyway. Okay, that’s actually not entirely true. Once I decided I wanted to be a writer and not just someone that jots down thoughts in a notebook and tucks it under the mattress. I mean a ‘write, edit, repeat…and edit again…then hope to one day sell a million copies’ kind of writer. I find that coming up with story ideas is a piece of cake. In fact, I have several ideas battling it out inside my head right now, fighting to reach the light of day and end up on the blank pages below.

The ideas talk to me all the time! At times they remind me of those greasy carnies you see at the local fair, you know the ones. They come out of nowhere and try to lure you over to try to win an amazing prize. “Step right up and write about ME.” Or “Pssst…hey, tell my story.” Or “This right here is a special one of a kind, genuine, guaranteed to be a bestseller story. You don’t want to miss out.”   I never know what will trigger an idea to join the madness inside my head. An idea will just pop in and start fighting for my attention. I’ve gotten ideas from things that I’ve experienced, schemed up with a friend, pictures I come across and writing challenges. Wherever they come from I hope they never stop.

Q2: What do you find hardest about writing?

Joy: From my experience, it’s ALL hard. Am I exaggerating? Yes I am. Why? Because, I’m a writer and that’s what writers do. The truth is, writing isn’t as easy as I imagined it would be. I thought I’d write my story. Everyone would read it. Everyone would love it. I’d be famous in no time, or something similar. No one told me I had to edit, rewrite it, followed by more editing. Hey, I’m the writer. I’m just supposed to write it. Right?  WRONG.

I have to take my story idea, write it, edit it, rewrite it… then comes the hardest part for me (insert dramatic music here), let someone else read it. Yes, the hardest thing about being a writer for me is letting someone read it. What if they hate it? Or worse…what if the like it and want more? I have learned this is an important step in being a writer. And no, sharing my writing with family and close friends doesn’t count…they would love my grocery list if I asked them what they thought.

Over the past year with the help of some great friends it has gotten easier for me to let others read my writing, but it’s still top of the list for being the hardest thing about being a writer. I keep reminding myself it’s still my story and if I don’t share it, it will never sell a million copies…let alone one.

Q3: If you could have one career-related wish come true, what would it be?

Joy: It used to be to publish a short story. However I accomplished that late last year when my short story, “Legend of Dark Mountain” was published by High Hill Press in their Bigfoot Confidential: Finally the Truth Revealed anthology. So, my next wish is to publish a novella or novel. I have a couple different stories that I’m currently working on that I would be thrilled to see in print in the near future.

Paffi S. Flood, Intermediate

paffiMy intermediate writer and first-time published author is Paffi S. Flood. Ever since Paffi wrote for the school newspaper in seventh grade, she had a passion for writing. Although she didn’t pursue it as a career path in college, writing always interested her, even when writing technical documents as a software engineer. A decade ago, she began attending classes and workshops and was encouraged to chase her dream. She’s now thrilled to have published her first novel and is working on her next.

Q1: What do you find easiest about writing?

Paffi: The easiest thing has to be the editing process after the first draft is written and the plot is cemented. I work in layers, usually around three at the most but in my current manuscript, I’m at five. The initial draft strictly adheres to the plot and its essentials; whereas layers two and three allow me to go back and tighten sentences. In the unfolding, I discover more about my characters, their surroundings, their relationships and, hopefully at the end, I have a full-bodied manuscript.

Q2: What do you find hardest about writing?

Paffi: The hardest thing is to create a captivating story worth telling. I’ve collected more unused plots than a shopaholic with still-tagged designer dresses. This is when I find I sweep floors, wipe down kitchen counters, or heck, iron laundry. But, none of it’s wasted time, because somewhere in the Zen of doing a mindless chore, out pops an idea, a life, or if I’m lucky, an entire novel.

Q3: If you could have one career-related wish come true, what would it be?

Paffi: My career-related wish would be to have my current young adult manuscript published. As a child in India, I was fascinated by these people whom we weren’t allowed to acknowledge as we climbed the temple steps to pray. Who were they? My question was answered years later when I read a National Geographic article on Untouchables or Dalits. I wanted to write a novel that weaved their lives with lives of well-off Indians and brought to light the suffering they endure.

Velda Brotherton, Experienced

VeldaMy experienced writer is Velda Brotherton. Velda writes of romance in the old west with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements. She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, and villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books.

Q1: What do you find easiest about writing?

Velda: The first draft, because I’m lost in the creative process, living within the pages of the story with characters I’m learning to love or hate. Once the book is drafted, then comes the more difficult, but still enjoyable work. Getting everything just right.

Q2: What do you find hardest about writing?

Velda: In today’s world, the most difficult part of writing has nothing much to do with writing at all, for it’s promoting the book in all the many hundreds of ways possible. If writers make a ton of money, they can afford to hire someone to do this, because it’s so foreign to our brains as to be nearly impossible.

Q3: If you could have one career-related wish come true, what would it be?

Velda: Strange as it might sound, I’d love to see a book made into a movie. Yet I’ve heard writers who have managed this say that it’s disappointing because most times the story on the screen isn’t much like what they wrote. Still, I think it would be so much fun if I could choose the actors who would live out my story.

Analysis

So there you have it. Three different questions. Three different perspectives. What conclusions might we draw from these answers?

  1. In the beginning, the easiest thing is getting an idea. For the intermediate writer, the polishing work is the simplest thing to do. For the experienced writer, the first draft flows easily onto the page.
  2. Sharing is hard for the beginner. Generating that next idea is hard for that first-time author. But self-promotion is what the experienced writer struggles with.
  3. The dreams of the writers change over time. The new writer wants to be published. The first time author wants to publish a specific work. The experienced author wants to branch out into other media.

These answers aren’t necessarily true for all authors in these same stages of publication. But it’s interesting to see if you can draw parallels to where you are in your publication journey and where these women are in theirs.

One thing that definitely holds true—the scale is open-ended. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re a NYTBSA. Even household names like Steven King, Nora Roberts, and J.K. Rowling have goals they still want to attain. There is no limit to what you can achieve.

To learn more about Joy Keeney, visit:

Blog: http://joykeeney.wordpress.com/

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/joykeeneyauthor

Twitter page: https://twitter.com/JoyKeeney

Pinterest page: http://pinterest.com/joykeeney/

To learn more about Paffi S. Flood, visit:

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/PaffiSFlood.

Amazon novel listing: Mystery Ink: A Killing Strikes Home.

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To learn more about Velda Brotherton, visit:

Website: http://www.veldabrotherton.com/

Amazon book list: http://www.tinyurl.com/7dr9mbn

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9 thoughts on “Where Are You on the Scale?

  1. Pingback: Join the official Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge | Write on the World

  2. Thanks for putting this together Staci and I love the summation you delivered in number 3.”The dreams of the writers change over time. The new writer wants to be published. The first time author wants to publish a specific work. The experienced author wants to branch out into other media.”

    Like

    • I think it’s probably like even the rich have problems, or even the popular kids have insecurities… No one is exempt from struggles. There are always deadlines, pressures, worries. It just depends on where you are on the scale what they happen to be.

      Like

    • Thanks Rick. I thought it was kind of interesting, too. I know you really shouldn’t compare yourself to other writers, as everyone’s process is different, but I can’t help but see where I fall on the scale!

      Like

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