When we write or type that first word, lots of writing illusions are hanging around our eyes. There are visions of writers signing glossy copies of books, agents at their beck and call, editors gushing over our stories, fat cheques in the bank, reviewers praising us and readers buying the books the moment they reach the bookshelves and ofcourse movie rights.
Its when we start going deeper into the story we realize that neither writing a book nor getting it published are easy. Every rosy illusion is shattered big time. That too into tiny pieces. Here are few:
1. Writing is Easy. It’s anything but easy. Anybody who believes that, has definitely not struggled with troublesome characters, tricky knots in plots, nailing the voice and truant muses. They have not stared at blank pages and screens for long periods of time, nor have they struggled with several edits and cringed over criticism from crit partners.
2. Getting a book Published is not Difficult. People who think like that live on another planet. Getting a book published is more difficult than actually writing it. Manuscripts sit in the slush pile, agents are more elusive than a rainbow and editors are highly choosy about the manuscripts they accept. Even after a manuscript is accepted there are the harsh edits to wade through.
3. Writing can be a career option by itself. This is the worst illusion because people have not seen a writer’s royalty or advance cheques. Bills cannot be paid through the income one makes from one’s book/s unless the book wins a big prize or sells a million copies or our book is made into a movie. Most writers have a day job and writing is restricted to the free hours or late night.
4. Once a book is out, the next one is accepted faster. This is another illusion that needs to be broken. Unless the second book is a part of a series, its not easy to get it published if the first one was a standalone book. With every book writers must prove themselves and the story must catch the editor’s and agent’s eye.
5. Writers live a glamorous life. We wish. Most people think we writers live a glamorous life, where agents and editors are standing outside our doors waiting for our completed manuscripts, where people are hanging onto our words. If only. Writing is absolutely unglamorous. If people could see us typing furiously or scribbling hard, the mess constantly surrounding us, the irritated expression on our faces at the thousand and one distractions we have to battle, and the hundred things vying for our attention, they would surely think differently. Most people have not witnessed the tormented expressions on our faces when we deal with tantrum throwing characters and unruly muses.
Writers have a lot of imaginary friends: these people live in our minds. We have more books than people have shoes and purses. All our free time goes into jotting down words. I know I have been guilty of shattering illusions that many newbie writers have of a writer's life, perhaps I have even marred them for life. I am just bringing them face to face with reality. Have any of your writing illusions been shattered? Did you have any illusion when you started this journey? Please share them with us.