An Open Letter to Writers

I'm a writer. That much I have no problem with. I get paid to write and I've no shame in using that title. And I'm an author, too - I'm just not a published author. There's a difference, there. Not forever, I hope.

I have a lot of friends and family at different stages in their writing. Some are just making their first forays into writing. They're finding out that it's hard, and that books don't always write themselves.

Some have ploughed through, taking months - or years - to get that story down, and now they're facing revisions and edits and criticism and more input and more writing. And they're probably finding out that it's hard, then, too.

Some have just started sending their books to agents. It's a nervous time, all that waiting. It takes a different kind of work - professionalism and patience and knowing the industry and networking.

I know some people who are self-publishing. I can't even fathom the amount of work that's going to take. It's impressive.

And then I know some people who have contracts with publishers, who have advances, and advanced copies, and covers, and see their book - their story - in shops. It's joyous, and then it's followed by more work. The next book. The hope of a life doing this.

I know a lot of people, all doing the same thing in different ways. And sometimes it's easy to lose sight of what it is we love doing, instead of what it is we think we should be doing. With all the talk of social media and trends and the Next Big Thing and sales and platform growth, the writing can get lost.

Perhaps we trick ourselves into thinking that it's sales and fans that prove your story is worth writing. That's wrong - it really is. Getting to the end and having a book you're happy with is the goal. Anything after that is trimmings and extras and shouldn't really be the target. 'Cause writing is hard, and you have to love it - love it with something that goes beyond interest or curiosity or even enjoyment - to stay sane. Well, sane-ish. I also know plenty of writers who are certifiable and all the better for it.

So that's what I'm trying keenly to keep rooted at the heart of what I do. Love of words and language and tales, and letting that be what I focus on. es, I want to sell my book. Then I'll have the means to keep writing without having other things to do. But realistically, if the book never sells, or if publishing as we know it ceases to exist, will I keep on going? Of course. For the stories, and for myself.

It's hard, but at the end of the day, it's the only thing I really want to do. And that, I think, is enough.


  1. Hear hear! Having just finished my novel and posted it to an agent today, I am starting the waiting/rejection process, but I am starting it with good cheer because I love what I've written. I don't think it's perfect but I think it stands a chance out there and the characters have lived and breathed with me for a year now. Even if it never gets published, there are a little group of people that only exist because I made them so. I feel like this is our book - not only mine!

    1. Best of luck finding the right agent! Always great to have a book you know you love, no matter what.