Thursday, October 18, 2007

On Becoming a Writer

Several people have asked, “When did you become a writer?”

It’s a difficult question to answer. I’ve enjoyed writing for years and dreamed of becoming a published author, but didn’t take myself seriously until recently.

Part of the reason may have been that I worried I’d end up like Mr. Tanner. Mr. Tanner, you might recall, is a character in the Harry Chapin song by the same name. The lyrics, “…But music was his life, it was not his livelihood, and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good. And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole…” express how I feel about writing. When Mr. Tanner’s friends convinced him to sing publicly, he bombed and never sang again.

In other words, the fear of failing, of rejection, of ridicule and of being judged held me back. Obviously, I’m not alone.

Erica Jong said, “I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged...I had poems which were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.”

Shirley, a longtime friend, sent along a newsletter/blog from Robert Genn. He describes his anxiety after sending off his manuscript for a coffee-table book, Love Letters to Art, perfectly when he wrote, “…Actually, I've been a neurotic mess for the last month or so. Maybe you've noticed. Now that I've pressed the button, I don't feel so bad. But books are terribly final. You put yourself right out there, warts and all…” Click to read the entire blog.

"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." - Les Brown

Aging, I suppose, is at least partly responsible for the realization that rejection and ridicule, were they to happen, would not be the end of the world. I’m aware that some people may like my work while some may not, and I can live with that. I’m tough enough now to survive the disappointment of receiving reject letters without completely falling to pieces. I finally realized I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by going for my dream.

My foray into the publishing world has been a fun, although nerve-wracking, learning experience that enabled me to proudly declare, “I’m an author.” Regardless of how my writing career turns out, I’m so glad I took the steps to throw my hat in the ring. I only wish I had not put it off for so long.

And, as Christian Nestell Bovee said, “There is probably no hell for authors in the next world—they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this.”

Since there’s been no word from my editor or publisher this week, I have nothing new to report on The Ride so I’ll see you next week.

Get out there and live your dream and thanks for stopping by.

Jane Kennedy Sutton

Tags: The Ride, Archebooks, Harry Chapin, Mr. Tanner, Erica Jong , Les Brown, Robert Genn, Love Letters to Art, Christian Nestell Bovee

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Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world