So, you Wanna be a Writer?

I am always amazed by people who say they want to write. Sometimes folks really have some idealized notions of what writers do. When I lived in Washington, D.C., every other person I met said they were a writer. It seems like everyone at least THINKS they can write. It’s almost as if some people have no appreciation of the time and effort it takes to write. It’s as if they think perfect language and stories spill forth from our fingers effortlessly, and that publishers are lining up at our doorsteps.

I don’t want to trash anybody’s dreams of writing. I do think that anybody can learn to write. But learning to write and learning to live as a professional writer are two different things. I have learned (and I have a great deal more to learn) that preservance is the most important asset a writer can have, along with the drive to write, of course. Flexibilty is key, as well. I could still be sending out my proposal for the Mrs. Rowe biography that I wrote. Instead, I listened when Ten Speed came back to my agent, Angela Miller, and said “We think this will work better as a cookbook.” After four years of working on this book, I could not walk away because my vision didn’t mesh with the experts knowledge of what would have a better chance of selling in today’s market.

I happened on these startling stats from this morning.

81% of the population feels they have a book inside them.
27% would write fiction.
28% would write on personal development
27% would write history, biography, etc.
20% would do a picture book, cookbook, etc.
6 million have written a manuscript.
6 million manuscripts are making the rounds.
Out of every 10,000 children’s books, 3 get published.
–Jerrold Jenkins. 15 May 99.

Interesting, isn’t it?

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