“Hello Tom,” all the others cry in chorus.
“My name is Tom … and I’m a writer.”
Everybody nods and smiles as they burst into spontaneous and sincere applause. Why? They too are writers of course. Okay, that’s a bit extreme, but I’m sure you get my drift.
We all have our own time for ‘coming out’ as writers. There are those that say they won’t admit it until they are ‘published’, or win a competition, or some other obscure excuse. No not reason, I mean excuse.
How did I come out?
I joined a poetry site and a writing site, published a few stories and poems online, and as soon as I had a handful of comments; I was a writer. I treated it with the same nonchalance as when I stopped smoking in 1977 (after smoking only six years).
The day after I gave up smoking I wasn’t apologetic and passive. I didn’t say, ‘I’m trying to give up …’ or any of those other lame lines that draw pity and let people see you could really do with a cigarette. I simply said, ‘I don’t smoke.’
Sometimes I got the response, ‘You did smoke though, didn’t you?’ and I would reply confidently, ‘Yes, but I’ve given it up.’
Let’s get back to writing.
Nobody, including you, is going to believe in you as a writer, if you don’t believe in yourself. If you have any doubts, shake them off. Don’t be afraid to let people see you jotting ideas down with your pen, or tapping away at your keyboard – these are things writers do – so do them, right out there in the open.
Do I believe I’ve improved as a writer?
Yes, in many ways and some may be surprising. I think that a positive attitude is the first step, but I only embraced other disciplines through a desire to widen my horizons and succeed. A personal foundation is a good way to go.
What do I mean by a foundation?
If you enrol on a ‘foundation’ course in art, you’d be introduced to drawing, textiles, painting, design, desktop publishing, history of art, etc. When you’ve tried out a variety of disciplines you have a better idea what appeals to you, but you still have a grasp of the others in the same environment, or topic.
How did I create my foundation?
1. I subscribed to an established writing magazine.
2. I joined two writing sites and a poetry site.
3. I attempted writing competitions.
4. I tried writing to the ‘Reader Letters’ pages in newspapers and magazines.
5. I listened when I was given constructive criticism.
Like my other lists, that one is a sample.
What did I achieve?
1. Got a ‘Reader Letter’ published in a newspaper. My fourth letter achieved ‘Star Letter’ in a newspaper.
2. Letters published in writing magazines were then followed by ‘Star Letter’ status on more than one occasion. This year I’ve already won a year’s free subscription to a top writing magazine.
3. I won a national short story competition and had my tale, ‘Decision at the Abbey’, added to an anthology, ‘Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration’.
4. I came joint-first in an International short story competition. Yay!
5. I now have a solid platform to work from, and apart from continuing to do all those things mentioned above; I still read widely.
Have I got advice for novice writers?
First of all, let me clarify that I’m not an expert. I’m still working hard to improve my craft, but in light of experience I have a desire to help my peers. With that in mind, I will now give one of my short lists.
1. Don’t just write what you feel comfortable with. Attempt: reader letters, poetry, short stories, a user’s guide, a formal letter, a screenplay, or the opening chapter of a novel.
2. Subscribe to a good writing magazine, or online writing magazine.
3. Enter some writing competitions.
4. Build a platform online, a little bit at a time.
5. As writers we are in a ‘solitary’ world when working. If you ever feel ‘lonely’, which is very different to ‘solitary’, please get in touch with one of us out here.
Bonus point today. Read as widely as possible. Don’t just go for your regular thriller or romance, read as many genre as possible, old and new, and try writing reviews too.
Okay, I think that’s enough for today’s session. Just as I once tried as a chat-up line, I’m not going to apologise for this being a long one. lol
Thank you once again for putting up with me, and I hope to see you again for the final posts next week.
Did I mention that my first anthology of short stories went live on Amazon this morning?
No, I know I didn’t, but if you’re interested;
‘Smoke & Mirrors and other stories’
I’ll see you on Monday with the ‘X’ factor.