How well have you chosen your writing path?

After a few detours, I’m comfortable on my writing path. In her recent blog post, Chris King called my decision to publish my first novel a “display of bravery”. I’ll accept that, but I’ll be honest enough to qualify it. It does, for each writer, take a degree of bravery to share your writing with others, to risk ridicule or indifference as well as praise and enthusiasm. But for me, a degree of impulsivity also contributed to the decision.

Where do you expect your writing path to lead you? Or more to the point, where do you really want that path to lead you? Someone may have asked me that before I published, I don’t remember, but I’m certain I never considered the question with the sincerity it deserved.

At various times throughout my life, I dreamed of being a rich and famous author—not that I was writing a book at those times. My dreams were sparked by reading good books and imagining that I could write like that. Eventually, I did write a novel and I believed it was good enough to publish. I dreamed of getting a top agent who would sell it to a major publisher who would pour massive resources into propelling it to the top of the bestseller lists. In other words, I would be rich and famous.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Neither is it likely to. Why? Judged on the quality of writing, I believe The Brevity of Roses could hold its own against any midlist novel. And I believe I have the talent to write a potential bestseller. What I’m missing is the personality to make that potential a reality. As stupid as it sounds, I never really considered that part while I dreamed of seeing my name at #1.

I’m not an expert on this personality, but I do believe I lack certain aspects of it. I don’t have what it takes to join writer’s groups and organizations, attend seminars and conferences, enter contests, submit my work at every opportunity, guest post on blogs, “work” Twitter and Facebook, etc., etc., etc. In other words, I lack the drive and self-assurance to do whatever it takes, in a positive way, to make connections and gain name recognition in the publishing world.

Though writing requires a good degree of seclusion, that doesn’t mean all writers are introverts. Certainly, not all writers are hermits like I am. Some of you are comfortable in a group of strangers—instead of praying that some non-life-threatening emergency will arise to rescue you. Some of you could stand in front of a large audience and speak coherently—instead of breaking into a sweat and quivering to a heap behind the podium. Some of you … well, let’s just say, some of you are the opposite of me.

So, consider your personality before choosing your career path. You might avoid the wasted time and effort trying to attain—or the shock and regret of attaining—an unsuitable goal. For sure, if you’re a writer like I am, you’ll save yourself the frustration, bitterness, and envy of seeing yourself as a “failure” before recognizing you actually have the kind of success that’s perfect for you.

Image courtesy of Evgenie Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

28 thoughts on “How well have you chosen your writing path?

  1. Looks like you’ve stunned us into silence, Linda! For my part, I doubt there’s a ‘type’ that writes best sellers and has a complete profile. But I do think there are ways of going about things that suit some and not others. I have friend who is at best Edwardian in her demeanour but has taken twitter by the scruff and made it her own. However, she is a teacher and so the book signings and radio interviews have not been so difficult. Of course, none of that is relevant unless you’ve written something of note, and as we’ve all observed recently, that can be complete but very popular tosh. I don’t know for sure, not having written a novel, but I suspect that honesty in your writing and honesty in your approach to the public (with a bit of a shove where things are difficult but not impossible) might be the best way to go. It would most likely be the one whereby you could live with yourself afterwards. And anyway, isn’t your personality the best one there is for you?

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    1. I didn’t mean to stun anyone, Suzanne. Maybe this is just one of my “letter to myself” posts. 😕 It made sense in my head.

      And yes, of course, my personality is best suited to me. 🙂 My problem is that I’ve wasted so much time trying not to be myself. Quite frustrating.

      I’m reserving the right to come back later and respond fully to your comment. 🙂

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    2. Suzanne, your friend has obviously chosen a different path than I have, so she’s using her natural and developed skills to successfully navigate Twitter, book signings, and radio interviews because that’s required for her to reach her goal. I have no doubt that you can and will do the same.

      And yes, though we know that less-than-stellar writing can enthrall the masses, I will write honestly and to the best of my ability and be thrilled that also pleases a smaller (but more discerning?) segment of readers.

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      1. Personally, interviews and big stage presentations would be a delight (see – aiming high!) but book signings would have me grinding my teeth, if not sinking them into the punters! I think maybe you have to do well what you do well and develop an ‘idiosyncrasy’ about the rest 🙂

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  2. This is such a powerful post Linda that I had to come back to reread it. I am in awe of your writing and the fact that you have published a novel and I am stunned that you do not acknowledge that great fact to yourself. I loved Brevity as I have told you on other occasions and can hardly wait for the next book to be published.
    Don’t be too hard on yourself as far as self promotion is concerned. I always told my children and my clients that the first time you do something is the hardest. Do turn up to the book signings – do you have a friend who could accompany you and give you moral support? Maybe that friend could also accompany you to a conference.
    As a successful author I have no doubt that you have joined local writers’ groups etc. If you try again you may well find that there are others in the group who also “lack the drive and self-assurance to do whatever it takes, in a positive way, to make connections and gain name recognition in the publishing world.” I think you are not alone in this. 🙂

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    1. Oh gosh, what did I say? I didn’t mean this post to sound like I’m unhappy, Judith. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m proud of Brevity. I’m happy I published it. I’m excited to be progressing well on the next book.

      All I meant to say is that I didn’t set a realistic goal for after I published. I compared myself to other authors and tried to force myself to become like them. Although I’d be happy to have their money, I don’t want to be a superstar author. I don’t even want to be a kinda-sorta-big-deal author. I like my quiet, very private life.

      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Maybe I should have put a row of smilies at the end of my post?

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      1. My comment is that I really wish that I had written Brevity. It is a remarkable achievement. I am so glad that you are happy with your quiet life and see no need to compete for the limelight with those other superstar authors. You are already a superstar author.

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  3. Love the authentic writing here and I say go for it….,reminds me of Alice Munro’s style…but as I am Canadian myself…we like that kind of rather lay it on the line but positive approach to self evaluation. I’d comment more extensively but Frances, my tortoise shell cat is draped over the keyboard at the moment.

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  4. Hello, my dear Linda. I must admit I was a bit stunned into silence as well. Your tone seemed rather sad at first glance. By your subsequent comments it seems you are happy, but mostly thinking about more realistic goals that could have been set in the beginning. Is that right?
    Either way, I think this stuff is new to all of us and it\’s a matter of adapting to some extent. In other words, I haven\’t given up on you just yet I didn\’t know any of this stuff either way back in 2010. Just don\’t sell yourself short. Besides, I was kind of hoping that we would have a friendly competition as to which one of us would have the largest yacht. *grins*
    I hope you and yours are well. Did I see that you were on a social media vacation last week? I only mention it because I mentioned you in last week\’s post.
    Talk to you soon.
    Your buddy from down the freeway,
    -Jimmy

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    1. Sorry I stunned you too, Jimmy, but you got it right in the end. 🙂 But I’m confused why you say you haven’t given up on me? I haven’t given up on me either. And how am I selling myself short? I think I need to write another post, though I’ll probably only dig myself deeper.

      As for the competition, I expect your vampires and ghosts have an edge on my mortals. 😉

      And thank you for the mention on your blog. I enjoyed your excerpt and the interview.

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      1. I was talking about the part where you say you lack the aspects of making connections with people, working the social networks, etc. That’s all. I could see you doing those things. I bet we amaze outselves each and every year in this crazy game, if we stopped to consider it. 🙂

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  5. It makes me happy to hear you are comfortable where you are at! I do believe every writer has a different path, and that some personalities are best suited for certain things. That’s why when asked if self-publishing is a good way to go, I always say, well, it depends on the person self-publishing. Good for some, not for others.

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. 🙂 I agree with your response to the self-publishing question. That’s why I said you have to think seriously about who you are and where you want to go before choosing your publishing path.

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      1. It has taken me a long time to get where you are now. Especially when I see others in a whirlwind social blitz that pales only in comparison to a Cat 5 storm. But then I take a breath and repeat three times – I am what I am and that’s what makes me different.

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