Sunday, June 5

Real writers take a stand!

This may end up being more of a rant than a post, but I just can't take any more crap about what a 'real writer' should and shouldn't do!

A real writer writes.

That's it.

They arrange words for others to read.


I am constantly hearing people talk about what you should do if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, like have a designated writing space in your house for writing, or joining all the websites and forums for writers, or keeping a journal or notebook with you at all times, or writing at least something everyday, etc, etc. What's worse, is when I hear aspiring authors talk about feeling bad or unworthy of the title 'writer' when they can meet the criteria set by these so called experts(most of whom are unpublished by the way, so it's really like the blind leading the blind...) And worse, is when people call themselves writers when all they do is conform to all the criteria--ie. they have a great writing desk set up with how to books, and read pens and journals, and belong to all the forums and comment regularly offering advice that hey don't really have to give--but haven't written anything!

So, I say to hell with the expectations and the stereotypes. I am taking a stand.

Hello, my name is Marian Lee Vere, and I am a writer.

I have written two books, one that will more than likely never see the light of day, and the other is currently under representation.

I do not write every day, sometimes I don't even write every week, but I do think about my stories all the time.

This is my spot on the couch. It is where every word, every edit, every query, and every book has been written--other than two trips to Panera when I had a deadline to meet.

This is my oldest daughter Brianna, and this is what she did through almost the entirety of my last book; stood at my leg and tried to add her own dialog. I was forever moving her away, locking her in the dinning room, and deleting 'mmmmkkkkkkkkkkklkkkkkkkkkkl's, 'zzzzzzzzzxxxxxZZZZZZZZZZAzzzzzzzzzz's, and the like, from my chapters.

I do not follow eight thousand writer blogs, I follow the ones I like, and a lot of them aren't about writing at all. Nor do I fill the writing forums with advice, or commentary. I'll of course help where I can, but I don't yet have a ton to offer. Besides, if I have time to stalk forums, then I have time to work on my next project or at the very least to do some dishes.

Yes, I have an agent, but I was a writer before that. Being signed does not define me as a writer, nor did being unsigned.

My book may not get picked up. I will be sad, and I may not be an author, but I will still be a writer.

Writing doesn't define me, rather I define writing--or at least what writing is for me--which is what I believe a 'real writer' should do.


  1. I agree 100%, though I will add that a lot of what you talked about has to do with age. I have found that many of the 'chatter boxes' if you will, on the forums and message boards are very young and thus, far to immature to relate to writing as a profession. They are fresh from high school or college, have recently finished the latest best selling YA novel and say to themselves, "Heck, I can do that!" Little do they know...

    That is why I also believe that we 'real writer' as you call it, should stick together. I'm standing right up there with you Marian.

  2. LOVED THIS POST!! The thing that sucks with all these "writer rules" is that it makes those of us who don't follow them feel like we're doing something wrong, or like you said, that we're not a "real" writer (which is ridiculous).

    My big pet peeve is when I read an article/blog post on what MY blog should be about. For example, I should not write about writing, I should post x amount of days per week, I should write about what I'm "passionate" about (as long as it's not writing), etc., etc., etc. It drives me nuts!

    Thanks for putting into words something, I think, a lot of us feel :o)

  3. Thanks Angela! I am so with you on the blog thing to! I'll blog about whatever I want as often as I want, and if you don't like it don't read it, right? ;)

  4. Preach it, Sister!
    You're speaking my mind on this one. Very, very well said, friend.

  5. I love this post. Only just found your site (through my web wilfing leading me - honestly - to a 'how to avoid distractions' list) by accident. I'm starting to become a screenwriter, but haven't finished one script yet even though I know the whole story for the one I'm working on now. I'm trying to become a screenwriter but I haven't finished a script so I'm not a screenwriter yet. And that's what I tell people - It does not go down well where I live. My partner is a filmmaker, we live in a city overrun with the pretentious arty filmmaking scene, they embrace presentation over content and prefer films to mean nothing so they can claim they mean everything and wax lyrical about the heightened contextualisation of truth in their films about a girl wandering barefoot in a forest. To not only ignore this rule of pretending everything is more meaningful than it is but to tell the truth that you haven't even written anything you could talk meaningful about yet and might be rubbish is a sin. I only know a few people who tell it like it is about who they are, where they are professionally and what their work means, and those people are writers and filmmakers who spend their time doing it instead of talking about how and why it's meaningful. One of the aspects in this presentation over content I see is a lack of life experience. I find this applies regardless of age. On a gradiated scale those who have the least life experience seem to be the same people who are obsessed with proving they are 'authentic' and their films or books are full of 'truth', as if they fear that it doesn't jump off the page or screen, they have to tell people. I don't really feel that way, when I'm faced with someone expecting me to say more than 'I'll call myself a writer when I've actually finished some stuff' I feel bad for them as they stand there thinking they should feel bad for me, as if my pragmatism were to the detriment to my life :p

    Much of what you wrote made me laugh for that very reason, and I love your pictures, I too write on the sofa, with a chair infront of me as a foot stool so my legs are straight when I'm typing on my lap, and I constantly have to shoo my cat away to dissuade her from her habit of cleaning herself on my laptop. And I think about my script every day even if I don't write that often.

    Personally I think, though tentatively, that the people who go on the most about what process you "must" go through to be a writer are in fact revealing more about themselves than about writing. Specifically that they need lots of tools, systems, triggers and controls to write, and that's not even mentioning whether what they write is good. I find that telling in itself. The comments are often 'a writer should write everyday' or 'a writer should have a mentally helpful space just for writing to always get in the zone'. Aside from the fact that I had that (a vintage desk, with stationary, and research notebooks and a good chair in a light airy room) and it didn't feel natural so I sold it all, why can they not be more flexible? 'Some writers find it helpful to have a writing space' or 'If you want to make a career out of writing you should enjoy writing and want to write often'? Something like that. Personally the only piece of advice I like to give to other writers is that if you can't look at a film and see how the way it was written and shot has made it a good film or a bad film, maybe they should read some screenwriting books or take a course to get an overview of the rules they probably know subconsciously but don't know how to see yet.

    Ooo, sorry long reply - in summary, great post!

  6. Hels,

    You rock my world! I am constantly getting mad at authors who write stuff that really isn't all that good, yet they are praised for it and have a following of people singing their praises. Example, I did a review not long ago for a YA paranormal called Die For Me. It was bad. Poorly written and boring.(And that is coming from someone who likes Twilight) It was just a snore, yet, all these reviews talk about how romantic it is, and how beautiful her prose is, etc., and all I can think is, "Did we read the same book?" I get so mad that she is so successful. Not that I am going to wish any author to fail at what they do, but I am also not going to lower standards to make everyone great. Part of me wonders if I am just jealous, and that may be part of it, but there are tons of successful writers that I enjoy and am happy for--because they deserve their success.

    Bah! Sorry for the rant! :)

    Hope to see you back soon!

  7. The "aspiring authors" that really get to me are the ones that are constantly telling other people what they should be doing but prefacing it with "oh, but I'm not published, so you don't have to listen" or "but I don't even have an agent" or things like that. Invariably, these are the same people that are on their 5th WiP without having finished any individual project. What they should be prefacing their comments with is "oh, but I can't even manage to finish a project, so all these rules I'm saying to you don't seem to work for me, either."

    Speaking of bad books being praised, I've run into that a lot from non-readers. Some book will get popular so someone who really doesn't read (because most people don't manage even 1 book a year) will pick it up and think it's great. It's really because they don't read enough to have read any actual good books.

    Okay, I'm through, now. :)

  8. Oh, and I'll jump in and follow.

  9. Thank you Marian; I think I might be blushing now :D

    It's so nice and refreshing to hear a professional acknowledge the irritation of seeing how uneven success can be and how inconsistent the judgement of quality in work out there.

    As my overblown post attests to, it drives me nuts when it's treated like an elephant in the room, something that shouldn't be so openly acknowledged since it's so closely tied to the subjective nature of art and the relationship to the tastes of the reader. Sometimes crap is crap, and people shouldn't feel afraid to absorb that fact just because something, including their own work, will be not to the liking of someone out there. Not that that is by far the only reason it happens, but it one aspect I can understand. Especially incase it turns out it applies to me!

    Just like yourself I have several successful friends who worked hard and long to get there and I'm nothing but happy for them, and it doesn't go over my head that it's pure bitterness, jealousy and sometimes spitefulness that I get as secretly bothered as I do that some people who don't seem to know what they're doing get recognition and funding for terrible projects. I may genuinely do the rational, objective math that Ant is a better filmmaker and we have better scripts so exponentially more recognition and opportunities should come to us but I'll be the first to admit it - keeping your self awareness is the most important thing, if you know you're jealous acknowledge it... I pity the people who don't know they're jealous when they simmer over someone else's success for weeks :p

    OOh, sorry, rambling again! I'm getting carried away, you inspire me! Point being, I wholeheartedly agree.

    Take care, be back soon x