Thursday, February 08, 2018

Lessons About Being a Writer

Kameron Hurley's essay in the current issue of LOCUS consists of a page-long catalog of large and small epiphanies about the facts of the writing life, phrased in the second person:

What I've Learned About Being a Writer

Hurley provides a comprehensive "best of times, worst of times" overview of a writing career through the full range of its wildly varying possibilities. Almost any author could identify with at least a few of her statements.

A couple of comments strongly resonate with me, as a chronic sufferer from impostor syndrome:

"You will spend your entire career wondering if it’s already over but no one has told you yet."

"You will stare at a shelf full of your books and awards and be absolutely convinced that you have achieved nothing in your life."

On the other hand, I've never once considered running up credit card debt on the basis of a book sale, even on the few occasions when I received checks that looked huge to me at the time. (We did, however, apply the advance for my second anthology, DEMON LOVERS AND STRANGE SEDUCTIONS, as a down payment on our first house. That was when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and houses cost less, in raw dollar numbers, than new cars do now.)

I've never had the "overwhelming" fan-contact experiences she describes. I can't claim to have been "celebrated, wined and dined." I have enjoyed some modest recognition in niche environments such as small conventions. I like this comment about how most writers are received outside those niche spaces "with all the respect this society owes someone of your race, class, gender presentation, and/or orientation.":

"If you’re a middle-aged white woman who doesn’t know how to dress herself, you will simply blend in." LOL!

I've never sworn off writing, although now and then I've been briefly tempted to give up submitting my stuff. So far, I've managed to resist that temptation.

As for this one: "You will give up reading. You will hate all words."—nope. Never have, never will. The love for reading sparked the desire to write in the first place. Even if I gave up writing, words and books would always be part of my core identity.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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