Perseverance: The Writer’s Journey
The Call to Adventure: That Magic Moment
long ago, in a land far, far away, I was a fledgling writer—slaving away on my
stories and losing myself in the world of imagination. I liked it there. I
could control what people said and did. My characters held delicious
conversations with each other. I could explore on paper what I could only dream
of in real life—fantasies that included tall, dark and handsome men who looked
suspiciously like Pierce Brosnan. I wrote so much
that the “e” fell off the striker key of my typewriter. But along the way, I
learned the craft of writing a novel, and I sold to HarperMonogram
in the early 1990s.
turned golden. Seeing my first book on the shelves was the most fulfilling day
of my life. I won awards. I toyed with the concept of fame, of having an
intimate conversation with Anne Rice instead of waiting in line for two hours
to get her autograph. I dreamed of owning a Manhattan apartment, a townhouse in
Charleston, maybe even a tropical tiki hut—each abode
graced by a tall, dark and handsome pool boy who looked remarkably like Pierce Brosnan.
The Sagging Middle: Show Me the Money!
much typing here, a decade, thirteen published books, three publishing houses,
a divorce, single-parenthood, a full-time job, a career achievement award, a
serious head injury, a lawsuit against HarperCollins, two and a half agents,
and much more typing.
The Dark Moment: Fantasy vs. Reality
Keep killing myself pumping out two books a year with no
social life (no life at all) or give writing a rest
25 cents an hour (if lucky)
Other job salary
50 dollars an hour (guaranteed)
You do the math
myself a break, but I didn’t stop writing. I wrote other things. I studied
screenwriting. I studied high-concept theory, learned about plot paradigms, premise,
and theme. During my lowest moments, I wondered if I could still call myself a
writer because I didn’t see my name in print anywhere. I didn’t pay quarterly
taxes. Hardly anyone sent me fan letters. I even saw an article entitled
“Whatever Happened To”—with my name in
the list. That was a sad, sad day. But I never stopped thinking of myself
as a writer.
The Resolution: Money is No Object
hiatus, a second marriage, and moving to four different cities in four years, I
am seriously writing romantic fiction again. But in all the ‘tween years, I never ceased to think of myself as a writer.
It doesn’t matter that I’ve sold only two books in the past four years. It
wouldn’t really matter if I wasn’t selling at all. I write because I’m a
writer, not because I’m looking to become rich. At twenty-five cents an hour,
you really have to love the work.
doesn’t define me as a writer. Writing
defines me as a writer. I know in my heart that writing is something I will
always do—that it’s something I have
to do, that it’s something I am here to work at and perfect more than anything
else in my life. If someone pays me a few thousand dollars for my trouble,
fine. If not, fine. I am not about to quit writing! What would my characters
do? Where would they go? What would I do with my constantly-scheming mind?
Epilogue: The Truth
to love writing to stick with it. The envelopes with the checks inside are just
icing on the cake. But the bottom line is—and take it from a veteran—selling a
book does not a writer make.
© Patricia Simpson, 2008