Since the inception of the website, back in May of 2016, I’ve posted 100 blog posts. Every post so far has been at least 750 words (except for one post. I can’t remember for the life of me which one it was, but I was busy and the subject was pretty sparse to begin with). Now, I’m no accountant, but doing a little math shows that I’ve then written well over 75,000 words on the ol’ website here.
What that doesn’t include are the rejects that don’t get posted or that get erased. Combined with the 55,000 words I’ve written for my novel, a bunch of short stories, the writing prompts I did with the River Bottom Writers, well, I’ve written a lot last year. It’s a number, for sure. I’m going to be writing even more this year.
While I sit here and congratulate myself by patting myself on the back while researching information about removing a couple of ribs, there’s other things I have to mention when I talk about the craft of writing.
See, not only do I write a lot, I read a fair amount as well. Reading is a wonderful tool that allows me to look smarter than I actually am without really doing any work. I recently read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, where he talks about his job. Which is sitting down, thinking about a bunch of crazy stuff, then putting in down on paper. It was a fascinating read, especially since I’m not actually a huge fan of his work (I mean, I could be, I’ve just never read any of his stuff, besides the ‘On Writing’ book). One of the things that stuck out for me was he considered writing something he’d be doing anyways, even if he wasn’t a big name.
Now, this stuck out for me for a couple reasons. One, right now it costs me money to write on this site. Not a lot, mind you, but the space ain’t free. And two, the game has changed slightly. There’s a lot more people writing today than there was when Stephen started his journey. The market for paid writing is also a lot smaller. There was a number of magazines catering to his kind of stuff. There are websites that cater to it, for sure, but they pay a lot less than they did in the 70’s. Magazines and websites now hold contests instead of asking for submissions. The opportunities presented to authors today is less of a low-paying gig and more of a low paying chance to win.
I’m not complaining. I’m going to continue writing, even if I never get published, even if no one except a couple of close friends and family are reading. I’m alright with that, because writing gives me something I don’t have in real space, and that’s the ability to express myself. I’m pretty closed off in real life, and for whatever reason, the walls get torn down when I put myself behind a keyboard. It’s good for my mental health too, because I don’t bottle up everything inside and let it rot.
There are a few things I’ve learned along the way about writing, some wisdom I hope to pass to anyone who might be delving into the craft themselves this year.
Getting Published means you’ll need an editor, and editors cost money.
A lot of money. If you have a book you want someone to go over with a fine-tooth comb, expect to pay somewhere between $3000-$6000. Keep in mind, there’re a couple of types of editors. Paying someone to do developmental editing means they’ll be looking over the story structure and they won’t be necessarily be paying attention to the grammar. Every time they go over it, they’ll want more money. That means tighten you work up and get some beta readers (friends who read a lot) and get their input before you hand it off to someone. Editors are people with jobs, and people have jobs to make money. They’re not going to work for free.
It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.
There’s this notion that writers sit in quiet rooms, working away at their novel, free of distractions. And that’s absolutely true. You need a quiet space to work in to write. If you want to get published, however, you’re going to have to meet some people, rub some elbows, make some connections. Join a writers group. Move to a bigger city. Don’t quit your day job. There are zero paths to success that don’t require you working with other people. If you don’t know how to socialize and network, then learn.
Ask yourself why you want to get published.
If it’s because you want money, look somewhere else. Seriously, there are so many better ways to make money. Same with fame and recognition. I learned a lot of things in 2016, but the bigger lesson I learned was this; there’s a good chance I’ll never be a successful writer, whereas success is defined by money and people telling me I’m awesome. Writing is just too saturated of a field. This is going to come across as silly, but what I’ve found is that being a writer isn’t something you do, it’s something you are. I mean, you still have to do it, you have to write, but if you’re writing without getting paid, that’s perfectly fine. I write because it makes me better at recognizing my own emotions, and it makes me a better story teller. If I could also get paid for it, that’d be awesome, but it could be a damn long time before any checks roll in.
People are going to tell you that you’re not a writer.
Or they’ll tell you that you’re not a real writer. Personally, I’ve never had someone tell me this, mostly because Mr. Charlton surrounds himself with only the best people. My solution is having business cards made out. Business cards seem to legitimize it, and they’re cheap to get.
To wrap it up, if you’re writing, or painting, or playing music, do it because it makes you a better, more interesting person. Don’t expect applause or money, because it often isn’t there. Sometimes the art itself is the reward.
The Illustrious Mr. Charlton
p.s. Also the sex. People like banging artists. Known fact.
p.s.s. Next milestone is going to be 1000.