My brother once said, “I can’t wait to make it to the top - it’s crowded down here at the bottom.” How true is that, particularly with the number of writers around. You can’t squeeze into a lift, stand in a bathroom queue or go to a coffee shop, without a ‘writer’ being in your midst. Think I’m being facetious? Okay, go look up how many motivational writing blogs there are. Bloody thousands, mate. Thousands. How to write, what to write, when to write, writing prompts, etc and so forth.
It’s all about how to go from being someone who wants to write, to a writer (again, what defines a ‘writer’ depends on the post, sometimes it’s publication, sometimes it’s being able to hold a pen against a Moleskine journal). One thing’s for sure - there are a helluva lot of aspiring writers out there. Why? I have no idea. Maybe because there are less motivational posts about how to be a shit-hot investment banker.
However, what these blogs seem to say precious little about, is being a published author. I think I know why. Getting out of that crowd and onto that first publishing ladder rung takes as long as it would to read all of those blog posts - forever. Once you’re on that ladder, you realise that you have in fact taken the first step. The first ruddy step. Now all the motivational posts have upped and vanished like farts in the wind, only to be replaced by the need for caffeine-based stimulants. Shit has now got real. That means still writing and pitching, but also marketing and sales, and guest posting, and standing in front of crowds of people practising your microphone skills. It also means publishers who fold, who have no idea what they’re doing, and who don't pay out royalties. Hey, Britney warned us, you want a Bugatti, you better work.
Unless your name is Nora Roberts or Gena Showalter or The Ward (and a couple others), you’re still at the bottom. Sure, you’re slightly further ahead than the bottom bottom. But make no mistake, you’re still out there hustling. And you’ve got to keep your product moving, so you best be writing too.
So where are the motivational posts? The cute memes about how ‘you got this’? The inspirational quotes for when you get a whole bunch of notes back from an editor and a deadline that obliterates any chance of work/life balance? I can scroll up and down on my Facebook feed, and find sweet bugger all. Are such motivations thin on the ground as any sane person would say ‘Eff this’ and start their own online trading system? No, what’s happened is that the motivation has slipped away and in its place are now forums that discuss the benefits of Bookbub versus The Fussy Librarian, traditional PR versus blog tours, or the value of Google versus Facebook ads. Sexy it is not. Memeworthy, even less so. Bait and switch at its very best.
It’s the fantasy of writing that’s so alluring. That it somehow transports the writer to some mythical, island paradise of fortune, fame, and never-ending features in women’s magazines. Yes, maybe, for some. But hey, remember, it’s crowded at the bottom.