How to be a writer

Last night I was on a date. With a male person. I know, how terribly heterosexual of me, right?

Anyway, the male person, let’s call him Xavier because he reminded me a little of Patrick Stewart, asked me what I did for a living.

“I’m a writer,” I replied, being coy about specifics.

“Oh, I’m a writer too! I mean, I haven’t had anything published.”

I smiled. “It’s tough to get published. What do you write?”

“Mostly fantasy.”

“Oh, very nice. Are you working on anything at the moment?”

“Yeah, it’s my first novel. About a guy who’s training to be an assassin.”

“Oh, like Robin Hobb’s Assassin books?”

“Who’s that?”

“Oh wow, you’ve never heard of her? You should check her out, you’d really love her work.”

“Well, I don’t really have much time for reading.”

My frown was probably visible from space.

That really was where the date should have ended, since I couldn’t any longer take anything he said seriously. It transpires that the “novel” Xavier’s writing actually doesn’t have any words. Just vague ideas. And it’s been in production pretty much his entire life.

The fact that he doesn’t even have time for reading (Jesus Christ, if you have that little time then why are you on a date? Shouldn’t you be doing your washing or sleeping or something?) tells me that he is one of them.

Let me explain who they are. There are millions of them, all over the world. They far outnumber the rest of us, but they look like normal people. They say that their dream is to be a writer, but really they’re necromancers. Each and every one of them is trying to channel the spirit of Oscar Wilde.

You see, they would be horrified by the life of a writer. Because a writer has to actually write. Putting words on paper is hard, and they know it. You also should, you know, read something occasionally. Or actually all the fucking time. Like a professional.

Fuck that shit, is their mantra.

What they want is to wake up late, sit at a desk looking wistful for a few hours, drink some tea served on the terrace by a butler and then go out partying and having wanton sex in the evening.

Like dear old Ozzie (Wilde, not Osborne – the latter doesn’t use words like terrace).

However, that leaves plenty of hope for those of us who actually do want to be writers. Because they are being counted in those horrifying statistics that say the chances of making it as a writer are worse than the chances of Kim Jong Un making it with Britney Spears on the same day you win the lottery.

So, to address the title of this post, here’s one simple trick that will dramatically increase your chances of being a successful writer:

Write.


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15 thoughts on “How to be a writer

  1. Very true and I can feel your disdain for them. You can’t be a writer without being a reader. It just doesn’t work.
    Note to Self: If it ever looks like Kim Jong Un will get with Britney Spears, play the Lottery!

  2. I was interviewing a writer. Published book number one. He asked me what I was reading now and I said, it’s a no-fiction book on Russia. His reply: Oh I never read non-fiction. Interview over.

  3. I could not have said it better myself. A writer writes! And a writer reads! How do these people think they can be writers if they don’t read? A lot. PS I love the dialogue and the characterization. Nicci, you have talent. I can’t wait to publish your two stories in July. Your biggest fan.-Guy

    • Thank you, Guy, I love you.

      Unfortunately they’re everywhere. As soon as you mention you’re a writer, 90% of people say they want to be a writer too.

      On the one hand I think that’s great. The more people who want to be writers, the better the outlook for the whole writing industry. On the other hand, I know it’s utter crap because the vast majority of those people just want to be Oscar Wilde. Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to be O.W. – just be honest about your actual aspirations.

      Also, I should have mentioned studying. There are a lot of people out there who know a lot about the craft of writing. I learn how awful my writing is on a regular basis, and work to improve it. If you ever think you don’t need to learn something new then it’s time to give up.

    • Wow.

      Thank you so much! I am truly, truly honoured.

      For those of you who don’t know, Guy is the patron saint of sex writers and works (damn hard) over at the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette. It’s worth a look if you like any of the following: erotic fiction, news, Pittsburgh, insights, nudity, etc.

      Did I mention nudity? I did, right?

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