I am a writer. But you already know that as you are reading my words. In fact, if you Google N.J.Simmonds you will find lots of information about my books. You will also find plenty of links to my work if you type in my work name Natali Drake too – all depends if you want to read YA fantasy romance or business blogs and newspaper articles. In fact I have written enough words over the years, in enough of an interesting and unique order, that I can safely call myself a proper writer.
Or can I?
Based on what the general public seem to think writers are like, I wonder if I really am one. I also wonder if the dozens of my published friends, authors and talented scribes are really writers too. Why? Because we aren’t reclusive, unsociable introverts, that’s why. Neither are we frumpy, grumpy tortured artists locked up in a dusty loft frantically scribbling down our genius thoughts and trying to change the world. In fact I have come to the conclusion that everything that everyone thinks about writers is wrong.
To help you out a little, here is a list of all the 6 things us writers are NOT:
For some reason, if you are creative you are not allowed to know about your talents. Yes, great artists of old died drunk and penniless having never sold any of their amazing oil paintings then became famous once dead. But in the past Marketing and PR didn’t exist, so of course they struggled to get word out about their talents. Luckily we are now allowed to SHOUT about our work. How else is anyone going to read it, buy it, like it or be nasty to us on Twitter? And those that are not comfortable, in this day and age, about sharing their masterpieces are missing out. You don’t get the Booker Prize for being modest and telling everyone that the novel you spent ten years writing is probably a load of old rubbish – you get it for talent. Therefore you need to make sure someone actually knows what you have done and that you think it’s actually pretty good.
Oh yes, I work for free. All this tap, tap, tapping on my laptop takes no time at all. All my ideas are totally gratis. I have an ever-flowing deluge of ground-breaking quips and tips at my disposal, and my time, energy and creativity (which, by the way, is completely unique to me) is worth nothing at all.
Standing behind a shop counter or fixing a car is easier to understand in terms of hours equalling fair pay – but creative people can’t charge per hour. Sometimes it takes but a few minutes to write something that will go viral in record time, other times is takes days or even weeks of painstaking research to ensure that that teensy paragraph (that you have no idea whether anyone will even read) is 100% accurate. Not to mention the time it takes to write a book! So if you want a writer to write something for you, then pay them whatever they ask for. Just because you can physically write, doesn’t mean you have the skill, talent and experience to write what you or your business needs… which is what writers are for. I can drive a car, but I’m no F1 driver!
Last time I went out with a bunch of writers we sat in a dark corner of the pub, sipping espressos and whispering about Chaucer in our cable-knit jumpers; stopping every five minutes to lick our worn-down pencil stub and jot down ideas on the back of a napkin. Not really. We drank one Prosecco too many while watching some terrible rock band, playing pool and getting chatted up by the lead singer of said terrible rock band. So no, we aren’t all shy recluses.
If the internet has done anything to change evolution; it’s created a generation of dirty-washing-waving over-sharers. But I think it’s great! I want to know what you had for dinner, what you think about the latest books and how your novel is getting on. The problem is that those who started reading before the worldwide web was spun struggle to appreciate online bloggers, columnists or copywriters, thinking you need to be seen on paper to have made it. Indie authors get slammed for promoting themselves and every writer who isn’t suffering for their art is viewed suspiciously. If you can write well enough for people to read what you do and enjoy it, then write as much as you can and call yourself a writer. Don’t worry – the book deals and agents and awards will follow, but first write and then make sure people read it. Privacy isn’t very helpful with all of that.
Out of Touch
Out of touch with reality? Really?
You think a good writer, someone that creates believable characters, speaks in their voice and walks in their shoes can do that if they don’t switch the telly on or read the newspaper once in a while? No. A writer needs to understand people and the way life is evolving around us. Yes, we live in our heads most of the time. I say ‘mmmm, maybe, darling’ far too many times to my children’s questions because I’m not really listening – I’m creating beautiful, wonderful characters in my head and then plotting what terrible things to do to them. But occasionally we look up from our laptops, make eye contact with other mortals, and even talk about things that aren’t very high-brow. Plus if we didn’t connect with the world, what would we have to write about in our blogs and articles? Exactly.
Well, actually, that bit is true. Because no one pays us the millions we are worth.
So my laptop, glass of wine and I are off back to the sofa to write about the unfairness of it all… and hopefully get paid for my undisputed talents!
N J Simmonds is the author of The Path Keeper, a fantasy romance series for young adults (15+) – although most of her readers are a lot older than that! You can follow her work and read more of her blogs at njsimmonds.com
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