Thursday, July 30, 2009

So you're a writer??? A real writer?

On a recent visit to the Bar in My Brain, I gathered with my writing group to ask - What's it take for a writer to feel like a real writer?

My fellow writers raise their hands, jumping up and down, "Pick me! Pick me!" written all over their faces, doing a sitting version of the pee-pee dance so sure they are that they have the right answer.

"An agent!" screams out Kitty Kat.

"No, no, it's a publishing contract!" says Little Miss J as she elbows Miss Kitty off her bar stool.

"You're both wrong," says Marcus Fitticus, adjusting his kilt as he watches the cat fight, which has tumbled onto the floor. Eyebrow raised in amusement as Miss Kitty bites Little Miss J's ear, he continues. "You're not a writer until you walk into B&N and see your book on the shelf. Or in my case, see the empty spot on the shelf where your book should be but it's been sold out and is on back order because they can't keep up with demand." He taps his pipe on the bar, for in my dreams Marcus Fitticus smokes a pipe.

"Everyone knows all great writers must first suffer great suffering before they can be considered real writers. And then only after they're dead are they worth their weight in whiskey." retorts the ghost of Hemingway from his bar stool down the end.

Hot shirtless guy with a smoking body chimes in. "Is it me on the cover, clutching a young damsel such as yourself, bosoms heaving as your hand pushes me away while your eyes say "Come get me!"? Is the what makes you a real writer?" he asks, flexing as he reaches for his beer mug. "That's it, huh?"

Evil Agent is lurking in the back of the room, the glow of her cigarette matching the red glow of her eyes. Imagine Cruella DeVil meets Medusa. I'm being kind. "We all know you're nothing without me, Evil Agent Extraordinaire. Me, and a good critique group. All writers have a good critique group."

I sigh, not just any sigh but the one that clearly says I'll-try-to-explain-while-not-sticking-a-cocktail-stirrer-into-Evil-Agent's-beady-little-eyes (I am an expert at the sigh, just ask TK). "No, no, no and no. That's not it exactly. While yes, all of those things are important - except you Evil Agent - it's not where I was going with this. And you," I say, pointing and winking at hot shirtless guy, "you're in the wrong dream sequence. I'll see you later tonight. Oh, and put a shirt on, PG rated blog you know."

The girls pause in their wrestling to poke their heads up and first, watch shirtless guy walk across the room and out the door as they drool then join in with the other bar flies to ask "So where are you going with this???"

What they didn't know before but do now (because I was kind enough to share with them, oh yeah, I am a giver, after all) is this:

1 - You need a muse. Muse - from the Greek, a goddess or spirit who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. Also tasked with preventing you from killing your characters off in a fiery crash because you hate them after the 3rd rewrite.

2 - You need an editor. Editor - Latin, individual responsible for transforming your literary mess into a best-selling book while performing a careful balance of bruising but not completely crushing your ego.

To be a real writer you need just those two things. Says me. Remember, my blog, my rules.

A muse to inspire you with words of wisdom and whimsy, to sometimes do nothing but sit idly nearby, the reflection of the pool casting an otherworldly blue-ish glow upon her as you bask in her powers of persuasion. She is there to remind you of where you were going when you started this whole thing, to inspire you to continue, to help create the closet alcoholic when the main character becomes too predictable and boring. A muse to text you "I'm reading the scene where stuff happens and OMGosh I'm bawling my frickin' eyes out!" I am proud to say I have a muse. Muse, you know who you are and you totally rock.

An editor is essential, for this is the person who will take your baby, the precious little bundle you've worked so hard to create, and turn it into the shining golden, NYT bestselling book it was always destined to become. Your editor needs to feel like you feel, sleep like you sleep and eat like you eat. Or lie and say she does. She needs to "get you" and be the type of person you would grant Inner Circle status to, if only she lived nearby. You need to become one, or at least one and a half. When your main character's poignant moment of truth arrives, the forlorn lady exuding distress as she lay head in her husband's lap during a pivotal scene, your editor comments "Ok, I thought she was giving him a little lap love, what's with the head in the lap? Ummm, change that!" Yes, oh wise Editor, we are one.

So fellow patrons of the Bar in My Brain, I am now officially a real writer. I have a muse. I have an editor. The rest is sure to follow. For I am a real live honest to goodness writer. A real writer who has a date with a shirtless man. This rounds on me, folks. Gotta go...


Doreen said...

You my friend are a writer, and we both know that if I were at the bar in your brain I'd totally give that Evil Agent the smack down she deserved! Thanks for the props my friend. For those who don't know, I'm the muse, yes. me. Don't be haters, we can't all be muses to everyone :)

Question. Did you pick that photo because it kinda looks like you and me sitting in a bar? You did didn't you?

Anonymous said...

ps - i AM miss kitty kat, am i not?

Little Ms J said...

Ok, so I totally think you captured Marc's essence with the whole, "The empty space where my book should be," because I certainly remember him saying that HIS was the book that would be in the NY Library next year.

Thanks for the laugh. I totally have a muse. Now I'm off to find my editor....

Mr Mystofleas said...

Did I actually say that? It sounds vaguely familiar, and it absolutely sounds like something I would say. Your dreams are just a little foggy.

Going now to pick up pipe. I'm doing my part to fulfill the dream. Ladies...?

Amy Sue Nathan said...


I think we're writers for real when we believe we are. But it's true, we all have a list of ingredients that make it work for us. I've always said I was a writer at heart and by nature - and it has always been my job in some form. But I felt like a writer when someone would say, "Well then, what do you write?" and I knew how to answer them.

I still fumble sometimes, but I have no doubt that's what I am.

Sally Wallace Lynch said...

Even after I got paid to write, I couldn't call myself a "writer" -- still not sure why. It wasn't until I found myself up at 4:00 AM every morning, eager to journey with my characters, that it dawned on me, "I am a writer!"

A true writer just writes -- needs no one's permission or accolades.

Sally Wallace Lynch said...

Oh, yeah!
Sharon, you are DEFINITELY a writer - no doubt about that.

SharonK said...

D - yes that's totally us in the bar!
Miss Kitty Kat, yeah, you know who you are!
Miss J and Marcus Fitticus - there may have been too many bottles of wine to recall exactly what was said at Armand's but I think we're all on the same page here - next dinner is on MF!
Sally and Amy - I'm going to be the little train that could "I think I can, I think I can..."