I am having a surge insecurities about my writing abilities, my aspirations for being an author and does any my work in progress novel(las) make sense. I still want to write even though I am aware that I am not putting in the work necessary to complete my manuscripts.
So what has been keeping me from writing full time? This question was posed in one of Joe Bunting Write Practice articles. Let’s see, well technically I am already a ‘fulltime’ writer, my job title for my 8:30-5 job is Research Officer/Writer, I have been in this position for over three years. The research and writing that I do on a daily basis cannot be classified as creative writing. I write information pieces on Government of Jamaica policies, programmes and services.
I have always wanted to be a writer even when I thought being a writer could not be a career, I wanted to share stories. As a child and even as a teenager I thrived on and lived for making up stories. Now I struggle, I struggle to stay engaged. I struggle to believe that the stories make sense, that they are grammatically correct, that the point of view and the narrator is the right one and that the action, world, plot and characters are good enough, fascinating enough.
In my bid to clear the fog of doubt and to settle myself into writing more, I have been reading about writing. Two of the books I am currently reading are, The Mindful Writer by Dinty W. Moore and Paper Hearts Volume 1: Some Writing Advice by Beth Revis. I got the as digital galleys from NetGalley. Revis in particular got me thinking about the type of writer I want to be. She stated that early in her writing career, from as early as her days in college she decided she wanted to be an author who published via traditional publishing with a major publishing house and a literary agent. Before reading Paper Hearts, I had not put that much thought into what I want to do once I actually complete and I am satisfied with my full form fiction.
And once I finish my first great work, what comes next? How often can I or should I or would I be required to publish? Here is random fact Nora Roberts has published over 200 books. Roberts books are hit or miss for me, but I have been reading her sexy mystery thrillers/ detective or magic tales since I was around 10 yeas old. This random writerly fact that I absorbed this week came from Goodreads April newsletter. And when I saw that I thought, wow, I am definitely not a commercial writing machine and I do not wish to be one. But just wow. But then I wondered, do I possess even a slither of the literary prowess of my absolute favourite author, Toni Morrison? Morrison has a kind of literary greatness and beauty in fiction form and meaning that I wish to impart. Hell even an ounce of that Toni Morrison magic would make me be beyond contented.
I assume that once a writer is connected and signed by a literary agent and that agent works on behalf of the writer to sell a manuscript, this means that the writer has a support network. And I assume that this kind of support will be truly valuable when attempting to secure a book deal and ironing out publication and royalty rights. However, since doing book reviews and blogging I have read and interacted with so many wonderful indie published writers, indie publishers and self-published persons that I have an appreciation and somewhat better knowledge of that process. And I love the idea of full ownership and writing freely without losing any editorial control.
There is also the niggling thought that as an emerging Caribbean writer, still living in the Caribbean, that appealing to large publishers and high ranking literary agents is rather far fetched. When I consider those who are making waves as Caribbean writers, Marlon James, Naomi Jackson, Edwidge Danticat, Nicole Yoon, these stars of Caribbean literature do not actually live, work or operate from within the region. Instead they are writers of Caribbean descent or person who may have been born on the islands but now they reside in North American countries.
So while I am still undecided about self-publishing, small presses, indie publishers or traditional publishing, I am writing. Writing and completing a book is the primary focus. I have come to realise that I do not have the time or discipline to write for x minutes or hours each day. I do work full time and I have freelance writing and editing commitments. I must really schedule writing time on my weekends. For April and May I am challenging myself to transform and build my flash fiction piece, Legacy, into a short story.