Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Between Myth and Reality

Check back here every Wednesday for a few thoughts on the craft. Here are today's:

Wednesday's Writing on Writing...

Before I became a published author, I bought into the myths that surround such a life. Having read that a very small percentage of full-time writers support themselves on writing income alone, I put off going freelance until I was sure I had enough work to do just that.

Then – along with worthy and altruistic goals – I confess I dreamed of bestsellers and hobnobbing with known and powerful people.

You live and learn. I became one of the fortunate few who not only was able to make a living at writing, but also enjoyed a bestselling series that has indeed put me in places I never expected: interviewed by Glenn Beck, Larry King, Morely Safer, Bryant Gumbel, Wolf Blitzer, Bill O’Reilly, Dennis Miller, The New York Times, TIME magazine, Nightline, Good Morning America, and The History Channel.
Once, during a span of just a few days, I was interviewed for 60 Minutes and “took a meeting,” as Hollywood types like to say, with actor and director Jason Alexander (George Costanza on Seinfeld), who was developing one of my novels for a movie (which never got made).

Those experiences were fun and exciting, and I share them only to show the possibilities for anyone who becomes devoted to a craft.

Since then, however, I have also cooled my heels for a week and a half in a hotel room far from home, waiting to testify in an unpleasant bit of litigation that is also part and parcel of the writing life. I also had to fight a spurious plagiarism claim (which was fortunately thrown out by a judge's summary judgment).

So, it’s not all fun and games. I’ve learned not to complain, but to take the bad with the good and remain realistic about the myths I used to embrace. I have to say, I wouldn’t have traded a minute of it. The benefits have far outweighed any pain.


Melissa Pearl said...

This is a little off topic, but I just wanted to say thank you.
Upon your recommendation I purchased the book "Fiction Writing Demystified" by Thomas Sawyer.
I'm only half way through it, but my highlighter is running out of ink. It's fantastic!
I sure hope my writing will soon reflect everything I've been soaking in. I know my characters will definitely have more depth. I can't wait to start profiling them more thoroughly!
I so appreciate all the tips I've been picking up from various blogs. Thanks for looking out for the "newbies" and sharing all this great advice :)

Cliff Graham said...

Thanks Jerry. A meaningful and thought-provoking post.