Anyone Ever Laugh When You Say You’re a Writer?

You Need a Real Job

Summoned to my high school guidance counselor’s office, I learned not everyone thinks being a writer is a good idea.  I still recall the meeting as if it were yesterday.

“Why can’t I be an author?” I asked. I wanted to be the next Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth, or Ray Bradbury. They were the best-selling authors of the day.

Her career choices for me came from the father role models on the popular television programs of the era. She wanted me to be the next Mike Brady (the architect dad on The Brady Bunch) or an aerospace engineer like Steven Douglas (My Three Sons).

“Jimmie, you’re a boy. You need a college degree in engineering, math, science, or accounting. You have to earn enough money to support your future wife and family. Forget your silly notion that a man can support himself by writing. It is okay to write for a hobby, but you will need a real job. With your grades you could even aspire to be a medical doctor or dentist,” she said.

I was heartbroken. Raised to believe I could do anything, now I wasn’t so sure.

Has anyone ever laughed at your vision of writing? Perhaps you have been told you lack life experience or you don’t stand a chance because everyone is writing now that they can simply self-publish on Amazon.

You may have feelings of doubt, thinking if only you had an MFA. If only your family and spouse supported you more. If you could quit your day job. Maybe you are in your sixties like me. You think it is too late. You say I am just too old. If only…

We all experience self-doubt. Friends and family do not always understand our passion.

Everyone faces such challenges. My faith as a Christian also helps me overcome such thoughts. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned.

Some people will never understand your passion for writing. Don’t bother trying to explain. Just let them watch as you write.

Read

Reading is necessary for writing. Not only is reading the fodder for writing, it is fun. It also helps me relax as well as grow.

Write

I know it sounds silly, but to become a writer you have to write. I have heard for years that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. 10,000 hours is five years worth of forty-hour weeks. Maybe that is why it takes ten years for so many to get that first traditional book deal. Do not be a want to be a writer. Write.

Edit

This includes proofreading, rewriting, and polishing. No one is perfect. Critique groups help as well as reputable professional editing services. Rewrite as needed.

Submit

To your surprise, someone may like and buy what you wrote.

Rejection

Being rejected is not personal. Your writing may be bad. It may be good, but just not meet the publisher’s or editor’s needs. You may have submitted to the wrong market or not followed the submission guidelines (both guarantee a rejection). Every writer gets rejections. The photo is a rejection I received from the New Yorker Magazine. I’ve been rejected by the best.

Acceptance

Selling a book or an article doesn’t guarantee success. Many times it means the real work is only beginning. Having your work accepted by a publisher feels good. It feels very good.

Writers’ Groups

Consider joining a writers’ group. I have belonged to three over the years. I have changed groups as I have changed. Some groups I have belonged to were for critique. Some have been to learn the business of writing. Some have been for the encouragement.

I know the thoughts I have shared are all items you have heard many times before. Sometimes a reminder is good.

We all have people like my old high school guidance counselor in our lives. Do not let their negative words keep you from writing. If you have the urge to write, write! It’s not too late.

The formula really is simple. It is read, write, edit, rewrite, submit, and repeat. If your writing is good enough and if what you write matches the publisher’s need, you just may see your story in print.


Photo Source: Pixabay

Kepler’s Aphorism #1 – You cannot be a working writer unless you submit your work.

This typewriter was used by President John F. Kennedy to make changes to his speeches while on board Air Force One. (U.S. Air Force photo)

There is truth in my saying. A writer is not a writer until he has written his article, short story or book and submitted the work.

A traditional writer cannot sell the piece until the agent accepts it, shops it, and sells it. A self-published writer must write the book, edit the book, market the book, and upload it to Amazon or Apple Books or Kobo or one of the other self-publishing platforms and let the public see the work where they have the opportunity to buy it.

You can’t be a working writer if you don’t submit. You can write, read books on writing, attend writer’s conferences, belong to a writer’s group, have a writer’s business card, and even lead a writer’s group, but until you put your work out there, you cannot be a working writer.


Photo Source: Public Domain (http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/198115/air-force-one-typewriter/ and https://media.defense.gov/2007/Feb/21/2000513573/-1/-1/0/070221-F-1234S-002.JPG)

Tuesday Morning at Starbucks

My Favorite Coffee House

Coming Here to Write

Howdy yall. It is Tuesday morning, November 28, 2017. I’m sitting at my favorite table at the Starbucks at 2201 Preston Road in Plano, Texas. Located next to the Barnes and Nobles Bookstore, I’ve been coming here to write in the morning for years.

I wake up every morning just before 5:00 AM. I do the personal hygiene stuff, dress, and drive the ten miles from my cookie-cutter suburban house to my favorite coffee dispensary. I usually arrive between their opening at 6 AM and 6:30 AM. I have a cup of their blonde roast or Pike’s Place coffee most days.

Why This Coffee House?

I know what you are thinking. Why this coffee house?

The bottom line is I like it. It is small, does not have a drive-through, has excellent customer service, and doesn’t get upset if I take up my table for 3 to 5 hours.

When I started stopping at this Starbucks, my motivation was two-fold. First was the location. It is located about halfway between my home and my now retired from the day job. Second, my goal was to write for 60 to 90 minutes before continuing my trek on to the day job. You see, I am a writer.

Give the Best Part of My Day to Writing

Over the years I was able to write a book every 9 to 12 months in this coffee house. I would give the best part of the day to my writing. Because of my regular attendance “the muse” knew when and where to find me. I started this near-daily routine when I was in my late 40s. Now in my mid-sixties and retired from the day job I return each morning to the same table.

I’ve also encountered a half-dozen store managers, over a hundred baristas, and learned there is a core group of regulars. A running club meets here every Tuesday and Friday morning. They arrive about ten minutes until 6 AM. At 6 AM sharp they start their morning run. It is a group of 12 to 15 with ages spanning from the thirties to the early seventies. They run for an hour and then have coffee and fellowship. I can call by name more than 50 regular patrons of this Starbucks. Most days you can set your clock by the time they arrive to get their daily caffeine.

Solving the Problems of the World

I write first drafts of books, blog posts, magazine articles, short stories, and poetry while ingesting my daily two cups of caffeine.

After writing I often solve the problems of the world in discussions with some of the men and women. I have built relationships with people. From time to time some of the people have called, texted, or shared spiritual needs with me. I have prayed with some of the patrons before their surgeries or when they are hurting from family relationship issues.

A Christian Worldview

I am a Christian and see things through a Christian worldview that many don’t have. I have been allowed to share my Christian testimony many of these same people.

No, I am not a perfect, in your face Bible thumper. I am far from it. Too often I am a hypocrite and fail in following God’s principles. I just get up each day, confess my sin and try again.

What Do I Write?

What do I write? I write religious nonfiction and religious science fiction. I also write historical/literary fiction under a pen name.

Most mornings after writing I either head to the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve or The Shops at Willow Bend shopping mall and walk for 45 minutes to an hour. Afternoons find me doing the business of writing with marketing, editing, etc.

 

Christian Writers Are God’s Provision For Others

Text: Proverbs 10:17

“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.” –Crossway Bibles (2011-02-09). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (p. 534). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

As Christian writers, our witness is as important as the stories or poems we write.

If our private lives don’t match our public lives, our writing suffers. More importantly, we have people tune out the message of Jesus Christ because of our witness. They label us as just another religious hypocrite.

One of the most significant and miraculous things in life is to heed God’s voice. It is when we fully trust and follow in His ways.

I know what you are thinking, how can you know the ways and instruction of God? First, you ask God through prayer. Second, you spend time in His word, the Bible, by reading, meditating on and memorizing Scripture. Third, you listen to God’s herald … this would be listening to sermons as you attend church.

You might be thinking, but you don’t know me. I have really failed. I have broken so many of God’s teachings … how can He ever use me. God is a forgiving God. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV teaches, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God has a plan for your life.

Never forget that God knows your heart. He even knows your most secret thoughts and feelings. God knows the number of hairs on your head. God knows everything!

Maybe you think you have everything under control. If you think that, you are wrong. Only God has everything under control.

Maybe you are feeling confused and just need direction in your life. Maybe the struggles of daily living and just meeting life’s expenses have you down. You feel spiritually broken.

One thing we can do in times of brokenness and confusion is look and pray for our needs … and don’t forget to thank and praise God when He meets your needs!

An example of God’s provision from my life was recently finding a large package with twenty rolls of toilet paper in the middle of the highway. I stopped, picked it up, and took it home. My wife shared she hadn’t purchased any that week when she bought groceries, but had been looking for some on sale as our finances were tight. God met this everyday need in our life. Another example could be a friend who calls and speaks words of reassurance or encouragement when you feel depressed or hopeless.

As Christian writers, we are God’s provision for others.

We are the used to meet needs in other’s lives. We need to heed God’s instructions where others will listen to what God is saying through our writings. When we fail to walk with God, our witness doesn’t point others to Christ, but can actually lead them astray.

Devotional: A Personal Writing Mission Statement

I am currently attending the East Texas Christian Writer’s Conference at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas. Yesterday at the conference we received a two-part challenge. First, “as Christian writers” write a “personal writing mission statement”. Second, share it with someone to get their response. Well, I always do my homework on time. I’m sharing what I wrote with you …

My personal writing mission statement:

• sharing Jesus Christ and his teachings with an emphasis on the application of His lessons to everyday life,
• encouraging the development of poets and writers, and
• promoting appreciation of the liberal arts.