How I roll as a writer

January 15, 2010

We had dinner with a dear friend the other night. He’s a writer and had advice about the book.

“I wouldn’t be so worried about making this a literary masterpiece, if I were you. I’d look at how best sellers are structured and write it that way. Write it so it’ll be a bestseller and so you’re likely to sell movie rights.”

I get it, I do. It’s a good story and it’ll have legs.

But I’ve never been a hugely commercial writer. For example, another friend told me that when the Christian Science Monitor got through editing (with me) a piece I sold to them in 2003, the writing had lost my voice. It sounded like any writer’s piece. And I think that’s true.

Back in the day, when “true romance” was all the rage, I knew I could write that stuff to order and make money. But I couldn’t because it just wasn’t satisfying.

Thing is, I don’t write to sell, I write to write. I write to get out on the page emotions, thoughts, occurences. Things that happen in my life, in my sphere.

I don’t even write to make a literary masterpiece. It’s true that I have one voice that’s more literary and another voice that’s a flip, middle-aged-Carrie Bradshaw. But none of it is intentional. It just comes out that way.

I’ve been lucky enough to have well-paying day jobs, soI haven’t had to support myself with my writing. And actually, I still don’t. Good thing, as writing is a hard way to make a living.

And as I’ve said before, it’s nice if people read what I write, but many times it’s just enough for me that I’ve written it. That probably makes no sense to non-writers but it makes perfect sense to me.

When I sit down at my desk in California to write, whatever comes out, will come out. I know I can retrofit a book to a commercial format if I try.

But really, in the end, it’s not how I roll.

Writers have to write their truth the way they write it.

We’ll see.

Welcome to members of my new writers’ coaching and support group! So glad some of you are following the blog. The group’s members span the globe and our coach is in the UK. Our monthly teleconference meetings and regular web correspondence are meant to motivate us to complete our manuscripts.

5 comments on “How I roll as a writer
  1. I stumbled upon your blog by the luck of the draw. I find it very interesting so I have become a “private” follower because that is just what I do. Like yourself, I consider myself a writer. (but only in my head) LOL. I look forward to checking in every once and again.

  2. Lya de Putti says:

    I say have a look at all of Nora Ephron’s film scripts and write your story to fit into that! Ha ha! Seriously though, depends what you want to get from your writing. Like you, I write for myself. Sometimes other people like it too which is lovely. But unless you are a slave to the publishing dollar I say write what you feel and it will be beautiful. Oh, by the way, don’t feel bad about spending hours thinking about who you would like to play you in the movie – that’s normal!

  3. Hi Lya
    Thank you!
    And…Would you believe I have never given one single thought to who might play “me”? Ever?

  4. Cheri says:

    C — I hope when you move to Cali you’ll start a writer’s group for those of us who live nearby!

    They can say what the will about the difficulties of book publishing. I’m addicted to your blog and your writing, and I’d publish the book!

    ~ Cheri in Scotts Valley

  5. Cheri, coming from a newspaper publisher and fellow writer, that is high praise! Hey, guess what? I’m having my hair done in Scotts Valley on Fri Feb 5 at 1030am and probably will be ready for lunch at 1p, in the area, if you want to meet up. If you aren’t on deadline. Or just coffee. I’ll send you more info when I get it. Like where the salon is. Email me back if it works.

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