NOW IS THE TIME.
I could procrastinate. I’m good at that. But there is no point in putting off my decision any longer. It’s crunch time. Do I really want to be a writer and do I have what it takes? I shouldn’t have read, On Writing. Stephen King forced me to see my stalled destiny. Ever since I finished that book a voice has been nagging me, asking,
“Do you really want to be a writer? Why aren’t you writing more? Why’s your book stalled? You’ve never had commitment issues. Why now? Are you going to shit or get off the pot?”
On the cusp of turning 59 here’s my answer.
Writing – a hobby.
I’ve played at the edges of being a writer for many decades. It’s been a hobby, not a profession. Never did I expect my writing to generate money; it didn’t need to, I’ve always had a fulltime job. I was content that my readers liked what I presented, laughed in the right places and sometimes offered praise. Over the years I’ve written and had published children’s books, professional articles and features. I’ve also written a mass of short stories that I’ve self published. To placate my vanity I formed a publishing house called Poodle Press. So far it has published four collections: Through My Eyes – Adventures in Bali; A Taste of Bali – stories and poems; Bali with a Twist – Stories and poems; and Life’s Journeys. They’ve sold well in a limited market, but never made money. They are the perfect example of why self publishing is often referred to as vanity press.
Determined to improve as a writer, I’ve followed the usual path of hobby writers. I’ve read, undertaken courses and writing workshops, participated in a writers’ group, scoured the internet for blogs on writing and attended writers’ festivals in different countries. Each assisted me to improve as a writer. They were baby steps to hone my skills and add to my writer’s toolbox, but none of them gave me that much-need kick up the bum to propel me into professional writing.
Out of dispair
The first kick actually came when my partner of five years, left me. I suppose all break ups are a wakeup call, but this one was different. My gay partner left me to find a female and marry. He was ready to settle down and have children. Between the tears, I felt compelled to write our story, and everyone gave me the time, as they avoided the blubbering mess. To be fair, some of them did not avoid me and I wish they had. I poured out our story, and it all flowed easily. I was sure that by merely writing our story, my lover would return, but he did not. My writing slowed and finally stopped.
For months I’d been toying with writing like a toddler pushing peas around his plate. I’d thrown myself into my work and in my spare time the TV and internet had become my new lovers and they were more demanding of attention than my partner had been.
Along came Stephen King
And then I borrow a copy of On Writing – a Memoir of the Craft. I’ve since acquired my own copy. By the time I’d finished this book, Stephen King, through example, had give me a good shake up. He writes 2,000 words a day and cites many other authors who write more than this. His book puts a career in writing into perspective, shows the dedication required and is filled with hints on how to succeed. Best of all, he makes it all sound like fun and very achievable. Whether On Writing is meant to make you reflect on your own writing career or not, it sure had that effect on me. I love reading and writing, but I had allowed entertainment to get in the way of these two passions. I am aware that my tool box is a bit light on. I also realised that I needed to make some life changes if I was going to become a professional writer.
It’s crunch time
I want to be a professional writer. To achieve this I have made the following decisions.
- I will write 1,000 words every day when I am at my home in Bali.
- I will post my achievement daily on social media.
- I will watch no TV until after the 1,000 words are completed. I suspect this translates to NO TV at all.
- I will not go to sleep until my 1,000 words are completed.
- I will avoid internet distractions until my 1,000 words are done.
- I will continue to read for a couple of hours each day.
- I will undertake courses to add more tools to my tool box.
- I will create a writing area that nurtures me.
And it’s working
Since finishing On Writing a few months ago, I have been working towards being a writer. I am back to reading, hardly watching TV, barely cruising the internet, have a new desk and writing space, have completed a couple of short fiction writing courses and three weeks ago started my commitment to 1,000 words a day. This blog has used up most of today’s quote, but I usually write a chapter for my book, “Nothing is forever”. Life is good and I’m now on the track to becoming a professional writer.
Thank you Stephen King.