I get asked all the time what it is like being a writer in this exciting new digital age.
I recently did an interview with a journalist who is writing a piece for The Mail on Sunday magazine, Live on e-publishing and the Kindle experience and he asked lots of questions – I mean lots! But the thing that resonated with me personally was just how much more you are than a writer these days.
I guess I hadn’t thought about it until I said it out loud.
I know how poor George felt now when he jumped over the desk at Bailey’s Buildings & Loans to escape the crowds at the bank; everyone wanted a piece of him.
That’s kinda what it’s like being a writer. You are a business; a brand.
Gone are the days when writers would sit tapping on keys, smoking cigarettes then posting their finished manuscript to an agent or publisher before taking a holiday and starting their next one. You need a blog, several email addresses, a twitter and facebook account, a website, a cover designer, an accountant, proof-reader, editor…I could go on.
All of these people need communicating with, directing, you need to be available 24-7. I feel like the shop owner in Stephen King‘s ‘Needful things‘ (one of my all-time favourite reads) sometimes, always open and able to lay my hands on anything anyone might want. (and although I don’t ask that people end up dead, I do expect a favour in return. Reminds me of the concept behind Kristen Lamb’s “We are not alone’!)
I think when Amanda Hocking explained her decision to sign with St. Martin’s Press, she explained that feeling. She said something like “I just want to write.”
It’s true. Writing is in your blood. It isn’t something that you wake up and decide to do one day (well, not for me personally anyway) nor is it something that you can just stop. I love writing – in any form. So whether I am tweeting about my day or blogging about the latest book, at least I am writing, creating.
Of course, my real love is telling stories, but hey, just lately, that has to come a measly second-best.
No, what we are busy doing now is learning how to run a business. How to market our brand, keep ahead of the trends, out-think the competition and stay ahead of the game. No-one taught me to be a writer (OK, I have learnt a great deal over the last few years about the craft and technicalities of writing, but no-one can teach someone imagination and their voice) but I am having to learn other things now.
A year ago, a blog and a website was something that famous people had. I very rarely visited any, let alone thought that I would be able to design and run my own!
HTML, Mobi and epub might as well have been characters out of a sc-fi film for all I knew and being interviewed by the press was something that happened to other people (well, except when I was 11 and was the first girl to join the local football teams supporters’ club and they put my picture in the local free weekly. Remind me to tell you the story of getting a tour around the players’ dressing room, whilst they were all changing because I had a hat and scarf on and nobody noticed that I wasn’t a boy! ;-)) but twelve months down the line and these things are part of my life now, like it or not.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So if that is the price I pay for waking up every morning and thinking Hey, I’m actually a writer (I can say the words out load now without cringing with embarrassment) then I’ll take it every day of my very busy week.
It is a wonderful life, but it’s also damn hard work!