If you’ve trudged your way through my previous posts – Er…………I’m a Writer and Er………..I’m a Writer Part Two, you will understand that I have struggled with acknowledging to myself, let alone others, that I am a writer and should, therefore, declare myself as such when asked that dreaded question “what do you do?”.
Well, now, rather like the ugly duckling in the Danny Kaye song, I have finally come to accept that my feathers are no longer “stubby and brown”, but rather that I am, if not a “very fine” one, at least a swan.
The particular flock of swans that opened my eyes to this fact came in the form of a writer I only discovered ten days ago. Kristen Lamb is the author of two outstanding books, namely Not Alone - the Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer. I believe the titles are self-explanatory, though I need to go into a little more detail to describe their influence upon me.
I devoured the first book within three days of buying it. On the basis of Kristen’s advice I have almost trebled the number of followers I have on Twitter in the past week. The list now contains a number of highly successful authors, agents and publishers. This is called “building my platform” by the way. I have also amended my profile on both Facebook and Twitter to reflect my current and future goals rather than focusing on my past. In a word, my “brand” is becoming more “professional” with each passing day.
I have not even finished the first chapter of the second book yet, but feel compelled to share what a seismic change has been brought about in my own attitude by the first few pages alone.
Indeed, on the very first page, Kristen goes straight to the heart of my, until now, enduring dilemma:
When people ask you what you do, you need to tell them, “I’m an author” or “I am a writer”…………As long as you introduce yourself via your day job (other than writer), then you are telling your subconscious that you want to be that day job FOREVER. Don’t even try to cheat with “I am an aspiring writer”. Again, this is a subconscious cue, and twenty years later, you will still be “aspiring”.
In case you have not read my previous articles on the subject, I have described my “day job”, since I retired from the civil service, variously as “retired”, “unemployed” and “student”, sometimes taking a gulp before adding hurriedly that “I’m doing a bit of writing nowadays”.
Kristen addresses, with her customary humour, the embarassment factor that accompanies that brave declaration with:
If you want others to shut up and stop mocking you, just tell them they had better knock it off because there is a part for a nose-picking circus midget with mommy issues in your novel. Then they might agree to play nice.
Screw aspiring. Aspiring is for pansies. Takes guts to be a writer. Yes, other people will titter and roll their eyes, but you won’t care. In the meantime, toughen up. You will need the skin of a rhino in this business. Do not look for outside approval. This is about as productive as looking for unicorns or Sasquatch.
So, in the immortal words of the great Frankie Howerd, “titter ye not” people – I AM a WRITER!
After all, what do I spend my time doing when I am not carrying out household chores, caring for my elderly father and spending quality time with my wife – and sometimes even DURING those times – yes, writing. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, e mails, forums – all writing. This is what I do. And, in the New Year, I intend to step up several gears by entering competitions and submitting articles to relevant magazines, as well as progressing one or two more substantial projects. That doesn’t make me a plumber, interior decorator or civil engineer – it makes me a WRITER.
So thank you Kristen for giving me both the reassurance and confidence to proclaim this to the world.
Her hugely informative and entertaining blog can be found at http://www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ . Whether you are “just” interested in improving how you build and develop your relationships on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, or believe you too could produce an interesting and valuable blog, this is the place to go. And don’t forget to read the books as well – they have been my inspiration.