I'll be gentle for those readers just joining this blog...
If you wish you were a dancer, do you tell people you're a dancer, hoping that someday you can prove you weren't lying?
If you wish you could be a rock star, do you tell people you are a rock star and hope, by some flick of a wand, you will suddenly become one?
Then why would you tell anyone you are a writer if you do not write? Writing is the key. Actually hitting those keys on a regular (or regularly sporadic) basis will do.
Let me give an example.
I was enrolled in a screenwriting class a few years ago. We all decided we would write screenplays and enter them into a major contest. We all cranked out what we thought was a brilliant attempt, which was probably complete dark sticky piles of ****. We entered and got lovely loser letters with a raised little Oscar on the stationery. It was very exciting.
Some of us were all hanging out in an office during a Sundance Event being held downstairs, in the art gallery, when our professer walked in. A very popular movie producer walked in behind him, and everyone scrambled to get out of their way. I didn't recognize the guy, so I stayed where I was. Then a great thing happened that I will always remember.
The professer introduced me. "Lesli, this is So and So. So and So, this is Lesli Lytle, a writer."
It wasn't that I got to shake the guy's hand and he treated me well. It wasn't that we made small talk about Robert Redford. The thrilling part was being called a writer.
After Mr. Big left, I thanked the professer for calling me a writer and said he'd really given me a thrill. He frowned and said, "I wasn't pretending you were a writer; you are a writer. You don't have to have a Guild card to be a writer. You have to write."
I've introduced myself as a writer ever since.
Are you a rock star?
Are you a writer?
So, if you are a writer, are you selling your material yourself? How's that going for you?
What about an agent? If you're not trying to sell yourself to magazines or publishing houses, you must be trying to find an agent to do it for you.
WHY THE HELL NOT?
You don't think your product is ready? When will it be? You don't know? Then you'd better be finding out. Find someone to read your baby. More importantly, when you find someone willing to take the time to read a chapter or two, ACTUALLY HOLD OUT YOUR BABY AND LET SOMEONE TAKE IT.
It's not going to be your only baby, surely. And if it stinks, you don't have to spend the rest of your life feeding it and trying to make it a pretty baby. You get to start over.
Here's some great motivation for you to aggressively seek an agent:
Pretend I can tell the future. For you. Just for you.
What if I tell you that you will find an agent only after you have received 30 rejection letters/emails?
What if I tell you that you will be published only after you have written four complete novels?
Here's the promise:
After you have queried 30 agents, and after you have completed 4 novels, you will have a really good grasp on what you need to improve in order to land an agent. Finding a publisher is the agent's business.
And when I say four novels, I don't mean absolutely pristine, polished-like-a-brass-doorknob finished. I mean finished. It doesn't have to be the Holy Bible, or Lord of the Rings, or Pride and Prejudice. It has to be you.
Four books and 30 emails. The only way to fail is to give up--and you know it. That's why you say you are a writer, to deny that you have given up. If indeed you have given up, I say, piss or get off the pot. Admit it and make your life easier.
If you haven't given up, then you'd better get your query letter ready and a list of agents. Make sure your first three chapters are as good as you can get them, and give yourself a time limit to get that done. (As in a number of days, not weeks.) When time is up, you have to stop and say "good enough".
I want to hear about it.
(By the way, I got my agent with my second book, but by the time I signed, I had four books finished and thirty rejections in the can.)