Friday, January 8, 2010

No Country For Casual Writers

Wanna be a casual writer?

Wanna write when your muse takes your hand and gently guides you to a pen and paper because the breeze tickling your sheer drapes has kissed her cheek and brought her out of her deep sleep and she's ready to dictate the lovely dream she's been having?

Do you want to write when the stars are aligned at the same time your family leaves you alone in the house unexpectedly?

In ambitious moments do you make a writing schedule and celebrate when you hit your goal a couple of days out of the month? Or even spend more time blogging or emailing about your writing than you actually spend on the manuscript itself?

Then you are a casual writer. Nothing wrong with that. You probably enjoy your writing more than most; it is a gift, not a chore.

For those of you less casual about your writing, I don't know if you've noticed, but the writing industry has turned into a GAUNTLET. It's no longer a row of desks spread out in the middle of a field like archery targets where we stand back and try to lob our babies from afar, hoping the desk it lands on, or bumps into, is the desk of someone who will appreciate said baby and if they dont, we'll pick it up, dust it off, and lob it at the next desk.

The new GAUNTLET is a damned busy public transit stop in Asia with thousands lined up waiting for the next train, to shoot their bodies toward the doors as soon as they crack open regardless of the people who are getting off and making room for more. With enough effort, after all, the agressive new group can push them out the other side of the train.

And these gentle human beings are anything but. While they wait for that train, they've either got their heads down, nudging their way forward, looking for familiar faces with whom they might gang up and weild more power, or they're trying to thin the crowd. "I hear the next stop has short lines...why don't you try it?"

Sorry to say, that if you're trying to get on this train, you should bring thugs with you (fellow writers) and embrace the gang mentality (writer conferences). At least you'll have a better shot of survival when the excitement gets people pushed onto the tracks. Friends, if they haven't been turned by the smell of blood in the air (angels), can at least pull you back up on the platform.

And once you're on the train, you'll have to fight like mad to get away from those doors before they open again. Grab any handle and hang on for your life. And if your work stinks, there are trap doors that will dump you out between the tracks. For pity's sake, DON'T STINK! You want some editor or agent to take one peek at the manuscript under your arm, think you smell like money, and offer you a seat next to him or her.

Screw the soft breeze. It's a rough wind that accompanies the publishing train and you don't want your nightgown blown around like a doomed ship's sail pulling you toward those sharp iron wheels. The only legacy you'll leave behind is a youtube video of that stupid surprise on your face, just as you're going under.

Have I thinned the crowd a little?
Good for you. See you at the station.

Ainsley, the world traveller


Mary said...

Man did you hit the nail on the head. Writing now days is not for the faint of heart.

See you on the train, no where near those doors until it's my stop.

Cindy said...

ALLLLLLLLLlllllll aboard. Chug-chug-chug-chug.....fabulous, simply fabulous. And when the rejection comes into my way station place that I call 'email', can I pull my nightgown over my head and scream?

How did you know that I needed to read exactly this kind of post today? I mean, considering I've just spent the last six hours in bolster me!

Cindy Nord

stanalei said...

Nicely said. Right beside you and hanging on for MY Stop!

Jennifer said...

Dear Ms. MacQueen,
You are a fabulous writer. If I were an agent, I would snap you up in a heartbeat. But seeing as I'm a writer too, can I have a seat by you on the train?

Ainsley said...

Are you in my gang? If so, I'll drag your raggedy arse along, but don't freaking slow me down.