Mark Terry

Friday, June 08, 2007

Some Times You Feel Like A Nut


June 8, 2007


And, as the jingle goes, some times you don't. (For those who aren't familiar with this ad, it's for Peter Paul Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars).

The point being, sometimes you feel like a writer and sometimes you don't.

Yesterday I had a particularly "writerly" moment. I received an e-mail from one of my editors, The Great And Powerful Wade, asking for an urgent clarification for my French publishers, who are busy turning THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK into LA FOURCHE DU DIABLE. It took me all of about five seconds to clear things up, but I felt like a real "writer" for a while there.

Of course, part of the problem here is that, er, I'm a fulltime writer. How come I don't feel like a writer all the time?

The answer probably is that this is what a writer feels like. Or perhaps, being a writer is something you are, or something you do, and not something you necessarily feel.

I've written before about how some people get off on the "author" thing, doing book signings and going to conferences. There are aspects of both of those that do, as a matter of fact, make me feel like an "author." Of course, doing a book signing where you're prowling the store handing out free bookmarks and introducing yourself also makes me feel a bit like a stalker or a used-car salesman (or one of those perfume ladies at the malls). Conferences can make you feel authorly too, depending on how comfortable you are making small talk with people you've never met before and who mostly want to go meet Harlan Coben or John Ramsey Miller, who the hell are you, why don't you get out of my way.

That is to say, nothing is really all that simple.

I love writing. With some odd bemusement, I've noted that if it weren't for my novels, I might go days without actually writing something. I might be editing, I'm more likely these days to be researching, reading business reports or annual reports or scouring federal databases for information. Not exactly the gig I thought I was getting into when I left cytogenetics, but satisfying and enjoyable anyway. There's a separate blog post on that alone, I think; perhaps Monday.

Anyway, about those French translation rights. That's pretty cool. So is holding your book in your hand. Getting movie producers calling and asking to read your manuscript? Lot of fun, too. Actually writing, putting your words on screen and/or paper? Way cool.

Rejections?

Hey, rejections are an even bigger part of being writerly than translation rights or movie scouts. Don't they make you feel like a writer?

I'll tell you a little secret. C'mere. Closer. There's something kind of cool about rejection letters, too. I've been rejected by all of the major publishers, lots of minor publishers and everything in between. And although acceptances are better by several light years, at least when you're getting rejected, you know you're in the game. If you don't send stuff out and you never get rejected, you might still be a writer, but...

Yeah, well, acceptances are better. They definitely make you feel like a writer.

Cheers,

Mark Terry

7 Comments:

Blogger spyscribbler said...

LOL ... cool post. I remember when I first started writing, that I would be completely unable to write while waiting for an answer from my publisher. Luckily, they have a quick turnaround, and I only had to wait about a week, max. Good thing I got over that before I try to jump into the big leagues!

I always felt like a real writer until I joined RWA and discovered you weren't a real writer unless ...

LA FOURCHE DU DIABLE ... French is SO sexy!

6:56 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Ha. I've been getting a few personalized rejections lately, which REALLY makes me feel like a loser...eh, I mean a writer. :-P

6:57 AM  
Blogger Joe Moore said...

Couple of things. Let’s say you’re an accountant. You usually have a degree on the wall and if you’re a CPA, you’ve got so other certificate hanging beside it. You sit in an office with your name on the door stating that you’re an accountant. Probably got an ad in the Yellow Pages under accountants. You have people come to you to account for things. When you’re at a party and someone says, “What do you do?”, they understand when you say, “I’m an accountant.”

When you’re a writer, those things don’t happen. And I think that’s why felling like a writer can be harder than say, an accountant.

Rejections. They are like stop lights as we drive. When we hit a red light, none of us say, “That’s it, I quite driving. It’s impossible to get anywhere with all these red lights.” Although hitting every red light can be discouraging, we still have the choice of driving on to our destination. Or not.

The folks that keep driving are the writers. The ones that count the red lights are the accountants.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Nice, Joe. Very appropriate.

11:54 AM  
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