By Isabo Kelly
In this monthly series, Isabo talks about the often uncomfortable questions every author gets asked, and how to handle those dreaded inquiries. If you have gotten any of these “dreaded” questions, please share them with us here. If you have an answer, all the better.
But if writing books were that easy, everyone would do it. We’d be inundated with more books than anyone could possibly read and no one would do anything else.
Fortunately for us writers, writing isn’t that easy. (Because there is a necessity in the world for other careers—doctors, grocers, farmers, telephone engineers, cupcake makers.)
Writing a novel takes effort, time, commitment to finishing the book, enough concentration to work on the book when there are more interesting things to do, like watch reruns of The View. The motto of a writer is and has to be “butt in chair, words on page.” That’s the only way a novel gets written. How often your butt is in the chair, how many words you put on the page at a time is an individual writer’s prerogative. But without those two things, you can “want to write a novel” all you like. The novel won’t get written.
And putting butt in chair and words on page isn’t always an easy thing to do. Pajamas or not, you still have to get the writing done. Sometimes you have to work when all you want to do is watch movies or take a nap. That’s something non-writers don’t always understand. While writing might be a passion, and it might even be fun, it’s still work. Just like a day job, or any other kind of career you might have, you have to put work into writing.
What if the plot isn’t developing? What if your deadline is looming and you’ve only finished a third of the book? What if your characters have suddenly become uncooperative or you’ve taken a wrong turn in the action and don’t know how to fix the mistake?
Enjoying a career, having fun doing what you do, doesn’t mean that there isn’t work. And that’s where the glamour of being a “writer” tends to wear off. So when people say to me, “I’ve always liked the idea of being a writer. I think I could write a book. Where do I start?” I tell them, “You start with butt in chair, words on page”, and then I tell them a little about my process, what it takes to finish a novel, and what it takes to sell one. If the questioner is still interested in writing after that conversation, they’re writers and I’m happy to encourage them to get their novel done. If they aren’t, they’ll go back to their current careers with a little more appreciation for what they do as well as what a writer does. ♥