Saturday, June 8, 2019

Thoughts on Writers by Non-Writers ~ by Kimberley O'Malley

I love to attend signings, where I get to meet new people, i.e. readers! One thing I enjoy is the questions I get. So, I thought I’d write a post about that: what nonwriting folk think of us. I recently polled some of my writer friends to see what they thought. Thank you so much for your varied and hysterical thoughts on the subject. In no particular order, here goes!

1) Writing is solitary. From the outside, yes. And it can be at times. However, my writer friends are some of the most supportive peeps I have. We go on retreats so we can write together. We speed write online together. Not so solitary. 

2) Are you going to put me in one of your books?  Not always the best thing to ask a writer. Remember, be careful what you wish for. Sometimes we do…then kill you off.

3) If you’re a writer, why do you still have a day job? Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor. Whew, that one always makes me laugh. I have a day job, or night job in my case, because my children have gotten used to having a roof over their heads. Most authors I know have another job. Because we are all not rolling in money.

4) Oh, you wrote a book. I’m going to do that too. After all, you just follow a formula. Oh, is that what I’m doing wrong? Not follow some formula. Silly me. My husband actually said this to me. And yes, he’s still alive…

4B) You don’t need an editor or cover artist to write a book. And that, my friends, is a slippery slope. I know people who edit their own stuff and do their own covers etc. And for some, it works well. But just having an undergraduate degree in English doesn’t make you an editor. Plus, there’s an advantage to having someone a bit more objective help you out.

5) Writers are born that way. True for some, but I was not. I have been a voracious reader since single digits. But writing a book never occurred to me until 2002. Writing became therapy for me while we waited to travel to Russia to adopt Thing 1, our 17yo daughter. And even then, that book, Coming Home, never saw the light of day until 2017. 

6) Writing romance novels doesn’t make you a “real” author. This one burns me. According to RWA, romance novel sales equaled $1.08 BILLION in 2018. Yes, I said billion. I never claimed to be the next Tolstoy. What I am is a woman of a certain age who writes about real life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And always with a happy ending, unlike real life. We read fiction, specifically romance, to be entertained. To lose ourselves. To feel good for a few hours. To escape real life.

6B) Indie authors aren’t “real” authors. Burns me just as much. When I started polishing Coming Home for publication, I had never heard of an Indie author. I thought you get an agent and a publisher…not so much. But 8 books later, I am happy and proud to be an Indie author. Technically, anyone can publish a book on Amazon. That doesn’t mean it will be good. Or even readable. By the time I hit publish, I have read through start to finish at least 4-5 times, plus the editor. Just because I don’t have a big publishing house behind me doesn’t mean I’m not good at what I do.

7) Writers are introverts. That’s like saying all white men lack rhythm. Many are introverts. Many are not. If you know me, you know into which category I fall.   

8) It must be nice to sit around all day and “just write.” Where to even start with that one? Writing is the part of my life that is just for me. Outside of it, I am a Mom and wife, full time nurse, part time soccer Mom, etc. I basically haven’t slept in years. But writing is MY thing. I write for me. Sure, I would love to write full time and not have another job, but this is not about money for me. I write because characters float through my brain, whispering things to me. I write because watching my characters grow on the page thrills me. I write because someone, somewhere, wants to read what I’ve written.

So, I hope I have managed to dispel some myths. If you have other questions, ask me. Or ask another writer. We usually love to talk about ourselves. Well, maybe not the introverts…

Listen to Kimberley O'Malley's podcast here.

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