Don’t Eat the Butt #4–Real Writers Never Struggle

A few weeks ago, I started a series that I called Don’t Eat the Butt. Why? Because typing “butt” makes me giggle. No, I think there are some important lessons here, so let me explain. I have always found the puffer fish fascinating. For those who choose to eat the puffer fish, there is only ONE TINY PART of the puffer fish that is not deadly. Oh, and if you don’t know how to cut a puffer fish correctly, you can unwittingly unleash deadly poison into the non-poisonous part.

Take a bite! I dare ya!

Herb: Hey, this puffer fish kind of tastes like chick–…*grabs throat and falls over*

Fred: Note to self. Don’t eat the butt.

This idea of the puffer fish made me start thinking about our careers as artists. There are a lot of common misperceptions that can leak poison into our dreams if we aren’t careful. Thus, this series is designed to help you guys spot the toxic beliefs that can KILL a writing career. You might have heard the saying, Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Well, I am saying, Don’t Eat the Butt. 

Some of us have been there, done that and got the butt-tasting T-shirt. I am here to hand down what I have learned from being stupid enough to eat the Literary Puffer Butt and survive. Watch, listen and LEARN. The smart writer learns from her mistakes, but the wise writer learns from the mistakes of others.

Without further ado…

Don’t Eat the Butt Myth #4–Real writers never struggle.

It takes a lot of courage to write a book and even more courage to share that book with the world and open ourselves to criticism. Many new writers fall in love with their first book and, like a new parent, fall in love with their “baby.” Thus, when anyone criticizes our child we get angry, protective, defensive and eventually depressed (when we finally are brave enough to realize our baby has flaws).

It happens to most writers.

There is this pervasive myth that real writers are these born geniuses who gush forth brilliance and never need to rewrite, revise or, sigh…start over. It is a LIE. Yes, there are the odd outliers who write one book and they shoot to fame, but beginner’s luck is highly overrated and almost impossible to duplicate. Many times these writers are one-hit-wonders who are befuddled as to how to recreate the magic. They have a different curse, one that is similar to child stars.

 

Oh, dear.

For the rest of us, struggle is part of the process. Writers struggle because they are writing. Just because you are having a hard time, doesn’t therefore make you an aspiring writer. The aspiring writer is the one who says, “Oh, I’ve had some really interesting experiences that would make a good story. One day, I’ll write a book.” The aspiring writer is lazy and tries to solicit real writers to do the hard work for them.

Frequently, they will offer to share royalties if a real writer writes the book and they just furnish the “best-selling” story. One can always spot the aspiring writer—Genus-Species Scrivnus Aspirus Lazytuchus—by their key phrase, “One day…”

They say things like, “One day, when I have time…” “One day, when I get a better computer…” “One day, when the kids are older…”

Do not be fooled. The Scrivnus Aspirus Lazytuchus has evolved to get out of doing any hard work. The Scrivnus Aspirus mimics the Scrivnus Authenticas so it can have all the adoration of being an artist without any of the risk, pain or suffering that goes with creating real art.

The Scrivnus Aspirus (Aspiring Writer) is to the Scrivnus Authenticas (Real Writer) as the Viceroy Butterfly is to the Monarch Butterfly—they look a lot alike but they ain’t the same thing, honey. Both are butterflies writers, but only one is the real deal.

 

The Scrivnus Aspirus is a phoney, and oddly enough, many a Scrivnus Authenticas can be fooled into an identity crisis if not careful. How can one separate the Aspirus from the Authenticas?

You will know them by their works.

The Authenticas works. She writes words. LOTS OF THEM. Many an Authenticas believes that if she isn’t producing good words, published words or award-winning words then she MUST be an Aspirus. Untrue. It is a myth. Words are part of the struggle from the cocoon. Good words, bad words all count.

See, the Aspirus doesn’t care for struggle. Struggle cuts into reruns of The Big Bang Theory. Thus, this creature will always be a fake longing to be real and sometimes even self-deluding that it is an Authenticas.

But again, we can spot an Authenticas by her struggle. So don’t eat the butt and don’t fall for the lies.

All Scrivnum Authenticum struggle. It is how they grow stronger so one day they can fly. If you aren’t struggling, then you might be an Aspirus. Struggling is proof you are real. We aren’t born knowing three-act structure or how to layer complex characters or how to infuse theme and symbol into a work spanning 60-100,000 words.

All of that is learned through struggle.

It’s like lifting weights. No one gets muscles curling her grandmother’s one pound pink weights. If your writing has gotten easy, that might be a clue you need to stretch your wings a little more.

Maybe friends and family have you convinced you aren’t a real writer because you aren’t yet published and you haven’t won contests, do not listen. Only a trained eye can tell the difference between a Viceroy Aspirus and an Monarch Authenticas. So if you are suffering and hurting and feeling like your cerebral cortex is doing Ashtanga yoga as you pound out words–good, bad and UGLY–day after day?

Welcome to being an artist. Fly, little Authenticum, FLY!!!!

So are you a Scrivnus Authenticas who has been fooled into believing you are really an Scrivnus Aspirus? How did you realize you had been lied to? What tips do you have for little Scrivnum Authenticum?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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  1. #1 by Sharon Hamilton on March 16, 2012 - 10:18 am

    Hmmm….You must have read my blog earlier in the week. Oh dear!. But all of this is so true. We are sometimes the only person we have to convince that we are brilliant. Good wake-up call for me this weekend full of hard editing. I’m putting my whip and my tissues away.

  2. #2 by Jess Witkins on March 16, 2012 - 10:19 am

    Always delivering the swift kick in the pants I need! One of the things attempting NaNo taught me was that even bad writing can lead to good characterization or new ideas for a story just by continuing to write. Rather than stare at the page blankly, the act of continuing to write was a good process. Not always good writing, like you said, but a good process for sure.

    P.S. You do like the word ‘butt.’ Butt in the Chair Approach! Don’t eat the butt! LOL

  3. #3 by andilit on March 16, 2012 - 10:19 am

    I love this. So, so weary of the aspiring writer syndrome. Thank you for putting humor and depth to this discussion . . . and for the picture of the puffer fish. :)

  4. #4 by Boxtersushi on March 16, 2012 - 10:22 am

    I’m working on my Authenticas status, writing everyday. I signed up for a writer’s conference next fall with the goal of having any of several projects complete by then. It’s a challenge to scoop all the great running dialog from my brain and translate it into the magic of ink and font type intact… but now I’m practicing daily.
    Am enjoying your blog! Thank You. Linda

  5. #5 by April Line Writing on March 16, 2012 - 10:33 am

    I love this. Thank you. Too, thanks for the troll post. I refer & link to it often.

    • #6 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 16, 2012 - 10:35 am

      Yay! Good to know! Thank you :D.

  6. #8 by Christine Ashworth on March 16, 2012 - 10:47 am

    It took me almost 20 years to move from the Aspirus to the Authenticas – and the eleven years since have been a struggle that I am only now beginning to comprehend. I love what I do – and to misquote someone famous, “you are what you do, daily”. So I make sure I write, daily. Hugs Kristen!

    • #9 by Patti Mallett on March 16, 2012 - 1:11 pm

      Okay, so my head is messed up and it’s Christine I should have been replying to. At any rate, Thanks for sharing, I will be remembering that wonderful “misquote.” (I will crawl back into bed with my book. A bug has been chasing me and is winning.)

  7. #10 by Piper Bayard on March 16, 2012 - 10:51 am

    So well said, Kristen.

    • #11 by Patti Mallett on March 16, 2012 - 1:08 pm

      I love that, Piper, “you are what you do daily.” Thanks for sharing. (It’s a great misquote.) ; )

  8. #12 by Author Shelly Goodman-Wright on March 16, 2012 - 10:56 am

    I was asked to be a reviewer. I’ve turned down five of the books suggested. Why? The authors haven’t taken the time to learn the craft. Passive voice, tense shifts and gawking characters are all over the place and it makes it really hard for me to take the author seriously.

    The lady I’m reviewing for said, “the majority of the books we review are self-published. I critique based on the content.”

    Which is fine, but in my opinion the lack of respect for our language makes me cringe.

    I know there are those who have taken it seriously, who continue to seek out critiques and do their research, but so many are just uploading to amazon without taking those steps.

    There was my rant for the day. LOL

    I am looking for YA WELL WRITTEN self-pub books to review for the lady’s site–she felt it best for me to seek out on my own.

  9. #13 by David Jones on March 16, 2012 - 11:07 am

    Sound so familiar. I am one of those people that always had an excuse about why I did not start writing earlier in life. Now it’s a joy to get up every morning, and prepare my day to start writing new chapters. I will never stop writing no matter how many times they tell me no. I realize it is a process, and you only learn the correct process by continuing to work on your process.

  10. #14 by Gary Fultz on March 16, 2012 - 11:10 am

    And here I was thinking of dictating my book to the laptop and voice recognition software while I fish on the lake.

  11. #15 by tomburkhalter on March 16, 2012 - 11:13 am

    Kristen, SPOT ON. I will NEVER (in all humility!) refer to myself as an Aspirus again! My sole and only regret is that I didn’t recognize being Authenticus at a MUCH earlier age. Great job!

  12. #16 by Debi on March 16, 2012 - 11:13 am

    Wow, you really hit the nail on the head when you wrote about having the courage to write and even more courage to share your written words. And most importantly the courage of opening ourselves up to criticism. Very scary yet exhilarating at the same time. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  13. #17 by Anne R. Allen (@annerallen) on March 16, 2012 - 11:20 am

    Amen. Two problems here: newbie writers who don’t realize the long, hard slog it is to learn to write well, and established authors who claim they can write a book a month, are never blocked, are fountains of perfect prose, and if you’re not, it’s just because you’re listening to the wrong people. Some of the gurus of the self-pub revolution are giving terrible advice to newbies. (So listen up, everybody: pay attention to Kristen, not the “you should write a book a month” gurus!)

  14. #18 by Marcy Kennedy on March 16, 2012 - 11:26 am

    Well put. The “instant success” stories really seem to distort our ideas of how long it takes to learn the craft and succeed.

  15. #19 by Pauline Baird Jones on March 16, 2012 - 11:28 am

    So true! When I first decided to spread my writers wings, I went to the library to try to find some writing books. This was a LONG time ago. I found two. One opened with a scathing diatribe about “housewives who write thinly veiled stories of their own sad lives.” I almost stopped there, but the other books was Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. LOVED THIS BOOK! It gave me hope and kept me pushing forward through life kicking my butt, kids, moves, life kicking my butt. Against all advice, I published my first book in 1998…digital only. Wow, thought the author gods were going to burn me to a crisp, but I just pressed forward, doing what felt right for ME. Now have twelve books published, a bunch of short stories and even some non-fiction. But I have to say, I feel like I got my second wind from “discovering” you in that workshop last month. Thank you for helping me see this business with new eyes. :-)

  16. #21 by vanillamom on March 16, 2012 - 11:29 am

    You always make me smile.

    Thanks Kristen…

    nilla

  17. #22 by tomwisk on March 16, 2012 - 11:33 am

    I’ve been cruising through a sentence and brought to a screeching stop with the thought; ” That word is soooo wrong.” And spend ten minutes working the thesaurus and reference books. I usually get the best word. Sometimes I leave the wrong word underlined to stop me during rewries. It’s a job I do every day. Some days are fun some are shoveling guano against the wind. You gotta do it.

  18. #23 by lynnkelleyauthor on March 16, 2012 - 11:50 am

    Wow, you’ve used some amazing anaolgies throughout this post.

    I love this: “Welcome to being an artist. Fly, little Authenticum, FLY!!!!” Reminds me of the little ant trying to climb the rubber tree plant!

  19. #24 by alexlaybourne on March 16, 2012 - 11:51 am

    Kristen, I absolutely love your posts and the way you phrase things.

    I spent a long time thinking of myself as an aspiring writer, and then one day, I realized that I was limiting myself, I was being my own worst enemy and giving myself a reason to procrastinate. I stopped and haven;t looked back since.

    Have a great weekend.

  20. #25 by Michel King on March 16, 2012 - 11:56 am

    This post helped me feel much better about my status in the Authenticas-Apirirus spectrum. I struggle, and I toil, and I crank out 5,000 words some days and I feel GREAT about that. Then I look at my writer friends who are all moving on and getting published and saying things like, “no one ever gets their first manuscript published,” and “I have five manuscripts that will never be submitted because they were learning curves and everyone is like that.” It hurts because I have been busting my butt to get… two manusripts finished and edited so I can submit them and become the “published writer” that somehow gives credibility to my life’s dream. So, thank you for the boost in literary self-esteem, because I needed it and secretly thought they all had it a bit wrong.

  21. #26 by Darlene Steelman on March 16, 2012 - 11:58 am

    Kudos to Kristen for warning us of the deadly Puffer Butt!

    Great stuff..

  22. #27 by August McLaughlin on March 16, 2012 - 12:05 pm

    Inspiring post, Kristen, and words so many—all?—writers need to hear. Without struggling, we’re like a boring sky with no rain or hope for rainbows, IMHO. ;) From struggle comes strength…which may be one reason I can lift my 90-lb. bull dog with ease. Hmm…

  23. #28 by Caroline Clemmons on March 16, 2012 - 12:08 pm

    Okay, Kristen, I won’t watch reruns of “Big Bang Theory” even though it is way funny. I’ll get back to work. Thanks for the kick in the puffer fish part,.

  24. #29 by LauraDrake on March 16, 2012 - 12:14 pm

    Haven’t we seen this other places as well? The neighbor, who has a new car every year, puts in a pool, goes to Europe. Then, when there’s a downturn, you realize that they were living on the edge the whole time, with $3.43 balance in the checking account.

    The pretty cheerleader in high school looks like she has it all . . .until we find out she has a Downe’s Syndrome brother at home.

    Looks deceive! No one gets by unscathed. Look in your heart – you know the truth.
    Trust it!

    Go forth, butterflies!

  25. #30 by debreilly on March 16, 2012 - 12:51 pm

    Last night I pulled out a decade-old file of short-fiction attempts, and anticipated my gag reflex getting a workout. Yes, there were colonies of adverbs, and a few parasite characters (why were they there?!), but the bones were pretty good. Back then I wasn’t ready to do the work, to learn, to put my ego on the back burner. Now is my time, and I’m having a blast in the struggle.

    Thank you for your generous blog, Kristen. I count you among my gurus.

  26. #31 by Patti Mallett on March 16, 2012 - 1:11 pm

    Thanks, Kristen, I have been struggling. BUT still plugging away. This is very encouraging.

  27. #32 by broadsideblog on March 16, 2012 - 1:11 pm

    One of the problems of writing/publishing is that when others succeed (i.e. get published) before you — it’s visible. And, because we’ve all been drilled in being super-audible and visible to get the bloody thing sold and read…those other writers’ successes are IN YOUR FACE. It can be very discouraging to see them hit the finish line while you’re still putting one foot in front of the other and wondering when (if ever) it’s going to be your turn.

    I share (for now) a publisher with a colleague who is (gnashing of teeth, rending of garments) already done with book number three ( NF) and she’s 20 years younger. I’ve only done two. How silly is this contest? Really silly. But human…

    All you can do is your best at your own speed. It may not be that of anyone else’s.

    • #33 by Linda Lannerd on March 19, 2012 - 7:39 pm

      Your reply is very encouraging. It is hard to see all of your friends make it and get published and it does make me wonder sometimes why can’t I? My first
      agent decided they wanted money from me six months after we signed a contract. That was like falling off a horse and it has been hard to get back to riding again but you have encouraged me to do just that.
      Thanks

  28. #34 by Jim Murray on March 16, 2012 - 1:20 pm

    Thanks, Kristen, for again offering some inspiring words of wisdom. And this post certainly hit one of my “pet peeve buttons”. I’m an unpublished writer, would love to be published, have written a couple of good novels, and continue to write almost every day. When I tell people this, they often say, “Oh, you’re an aspiring writer”. Well, NO, I’m not. I’m a WRITER. If I was aspiring, I would hope to write. I’m not published, but I am a WRITER. Thanks for keeping it real.

  29. #35 by emaginette on March 16, 2012 - 1:21 pm

    Thank you, I needed that. :-)

  30. #36 by wckedwords on March 16, 2012 - 1:26 pm

    I blogged/ranted about this last week but without the poise and grace you managed. I compared my Authenticus self to Bruce Banner being kicked and taunted by thugs (ghost writer-hiring Aspirus) until I was ready to morph into angry, green “Hulk” writer and smash every display of the GCB books I could find. Dignity won in the end and my purple pants stayed intact, but I have chosen to proudly wear my Authenticus wings and flutter past the nauseating arrangements of Snooki’s latest NYT bestseller….Ah, crap. I shouldn’t have typed that last part. I feel “Hulk” getting angry again.

  31. #37 by Amy Keeley on March 16, 2012 - 1:27 pm

    I laughed out loud when I read, “Fly, little Authenticum, FLY!!!!”

    I loved your points about being a real writer, including the sacrifice that goes with it. On Tahereh Mafi’s blog, she responds to those who think she is an expert on writing very humbly. She says she knows nothing absolute about writing except that becoming a published writer means she knows what it’s like to suffer.

    It’s a good post. Here’s the link.

    http://stiryourtea.blogspot.com/2012/03/i-couldnt-come-up-with-clever-title.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thmafi+%28Tahereh+Mafi%29

  32. #38 by KM Huber on March 16, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    Your post on this day that I submit yet another 25-word, kernel idea sentence to my Conflict and Idea workshop with Bob Mayer et al. Frankly, I feel more a writer today than I have in a long time, and it’s for the very reasons you “butt” me into on a regular basis: work smart as a writer, meaning write the story I want to write. As for my kernel idea, it’s not lighting up the workshop waves but for me, it’s burning through.

    As always, thanks Kristen.

    Karen

  33. #39 by katmagendie on March 16, 2012 - 2:04 pm

    Lawd! I remember when I used to think I had to write something that came out “Golden” the very first time – and if I had to go in and fix it, this meant I sucked, that I wasn’t a “real writer.” Boy do I laugh at that version of me now – or at least give that version of me a big ole hug.

    I spend a LOT of time re-writing. And I even enjoy it — it’s all part of the process. Lamott’s “Shitty Rough Draft” and then the rewriting where you add and layer and subtract and multiply and divide and discover and . . . well, dang, it’s cool stuff.

    When someone asks me what I do and I tell them, they sometimes say “I have five books in my head!” and I answer “Well, then let them out!” I never have “books in my head” – I have images and thoughts and people and places and only when I sit down and actually work do these things become a Book.

  34. #40 by Yvette on March 16, 2012 - 3:08 pm

    Ah the holy grail of being published! How I have sought after it. The problem is, I moved home about three times as an adult, to continue working ‘on my novel(s)’, and therefore, quite naturally my parents expected the payoff of my becoming a bestseller. Or at the very least published. Of course those things didn’t happen so they didn’t feel vindicated. And of course neither did I. After a decade or so, I wanted to get that publishing contract just to prove to my folks and family at large that I wasn’t a big sponge! My parents are aging now and the feeling at the bottom of the well within is… if I could just see them vindicated while they are still alive! Because what I love about them is they never questioned me…. They just always believed I had talent and I would get there one day. And when no one else believes that, it becomes a very precious thing! My mother has early onset of dementia. She talks more than she listens. But she will happily sit while I recount every detail of the story I’m working on…. This year, in one of her lucid moments we had a heart-to-heart. I told her how much I appreciated their support with my writing over the years. That I still hold on to this hope that they will see me reach publication in their lifetime. Our eyes filled with tears. She said, “We’ll hold on for that dear.” Even now, in her advancing decrepitude she still believes in me!

  35. #41 by Holly Michael on March 16, 2012 - 3:15 pm

    Great stuff, Kristen. And a good laugh!

  36. #42 by M. Darin Young on March 16, 2012 - 3:19 pm

    Thanks for the post.
    I’ve been writing for years now and have found myself trapped in the Aspiring/Authentic struggle for most of that time. I call myself a writer, and much of the time I force myself to sit at the desk daily for a minimum number of words/amount of time, then I look at what I’ve churned out and the perfectionist in me calls it garbage and I slink away from the keyboard for weeks at a time, saying, “I’ll get back to it later.” I always do, but often jump ship to another work . . . which is the current topic of the blog post I’m working on.
    Again, thanks for this bit of insight, and thanks for the blog. I find pearls here every week.

  37. #43 by fidgetandsqueak on March 16, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    One piece of advice I’ve seen a lot in different forms RE: the struggle of all us little Scrivnum Authenticum must go through, is to just write every single day. Set an amount that needs to be met, be it an actual word count or “one poem/chapter/etc”. Just something. A concrete goal that you can measure. And then stick to it. Actively practicing – paying attention to what’s easy and what is challenging, and then working to improve – is the key!

    All writers are works in progress, after all. The pleasure’s in the chase!

  38. #44 by Michelle Saint-Germain on March 16, 2012 - 3:42 pm

    Great post, Kristen! Your lead drew me in and your photos cracked me up. I needed to hear this today.

  39. #45 by Kelly Guzek on March 16, 2012 - 4:25 pm

    So inspiring! Thanks for all of the gentle reminders!

  40. #46 by Jarm Del Boccio on March 16, 2012 - 4:29 pm

    Great analogy, Kristen! Yes, we must be willing to let go of our “babies”, and allow them to be reworked and critiqued. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve just received your book in the mail, and am desperately looking for a spot of time to read it!

  41. #47 by CarrieVS on March 16, 2012 - 4:55 pm

    I was an aspiring writer for a number of years. I’ve only been a real writer for a little over a month, and I like it! Although I’m worried I may be driving my housemates to distraction with it – it’s sort of taken over my life.

    This is excellent advice. I would add that it really, really helps to have concrete goals, and give yourself some motivation to not only do it, but do it now.

    My own rule is 1000 words a day, before I’m allowed on the internet except for work, research or email. before I made that, I had barely written anything – had half a dozen opening scenes for different things, but nothing more. I’ve done my thousand words every day since then, without fail.

  42. #48 by UnrestrainedFancy on March 16, 2012 - 5:48 pm

    I have to admit, I often told people I loved to write, but never actually referred to myself as a “writer” until I finished my first manuscript. (Yea… I know. I was a big coward.) Then I immediately went online and ordered a bunch of stuff that says “writer”, my favorite being my t-shirt that says, “Do not anger the writer, or she will put you in a book and kill you.”

    I’m so glad you pound in this point. It gives a major boost to our writing-self-esteem when we take the risk to just tell it like it is. No more “hiding under a bushel”. No more fakes!

    Oh… and I also giggle when you type “butt”.

    Laura Ritchie

    • #49 by Yvette on March 16, 2012 - 10:00 pm

      Laura, love that t-shirt! I hope you call yourself a writer now.

      • #50 by UnrestrainedFancy on March 16, 2012 - 11:30 pm

        Sure do. I finished that first manuscript over 3 years ago, and for some reason, had no problem saying it ever since. Confidence sure makes a difference.

    • #51 by About Time Publishing on March 17, 2012 - 7:08 am

      Where did you get that t-shirt? I gotta have one.

  43. #52 by Kristina Mathews on March 16, 2012 - 5:56 pm

    Kristen,
    Great post. I have been feeling the struggle lately. Really, feeling the struggle. I miss the blissful ignorance of just writing a story as it comes to me. It has gotten harder. A LOT HARDER. I choose to believe that means I’m on the right track.

  44. #53 by KarenM on March 16, 2012 - 6:17 pm

    Kristen,

    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now, and have truly enjoyed your “butt” stories (so much so that I’ve been sharing your link on my Facebook page each time). As a writer relatively new to the scene, it has both inspired and schooled me. My book is progressing slowly, but not because I’m taking the “someday” path. Rather, while I write, I am also studying the craft. I’ve found mentors, critique partners, I’m getting feedback/input… I’m doing all I can to develop my skills, which I expect to result in a novel that doesn’t reek of “new author”. Your blog has been a tremendous reinforcement to it all. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  45. #54 by nrgalloway24 on March 16, 2012 - 7:02 pm

    I am so grateful for this post and all the comments. I can’t even begin to describe how much I needed to read this today. According to your definition, I am a writer but I feel like I haven’t earned the title, so I call myself a word lover. Words, sentences and paragraphs are my life and always have been. I’ve kept a regular writing schedule since grade school. I have published plenty of nonfiction, but recently I decided to ask for some help.

    I have been developing this idea for the past three years, but I kept getting stuck. I would revise and then get stuck again. I knew I could do better, but I needed help. My husband convinced me to apply to an MFA program in popular fiction. I started it in January. The past two weeks have been so hard. I had all these lofty ideas about how I would be working with people like me. People who share my passionate obsession for words. Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to the realization I set the bar way too high. Almost all my classmates are published and I’m not. They have degrees in Creative Writing and I don’t. A few of them are encouraging, but mostly I hear exactly why I shouldn’t be a writer. I read the wrong books. My writing style is outdated, I can’t write a fantasy novel if I don’t play D&D. What’s wrong with me that I didn’t care for the movie Alien and don’t read comic books?

    They rip apart the books we read in class in their blogs. Their comments and discussions drive me to tears. It’s so easy, they say. They should have done this years ago. I thought I would be able to share my passion, but that’s not the case. I’ve threatened to quit so many times in the past month. I can’t follow through. I need the help and I’ve learned a lot from my professors. My second 30 page submission was due Monday and I rewrote it three times after which I received an email from a classmate that I have a lot of work ahead of me. Obviously, I knew that. First of all, this is my first semester of a three-year program. Secondly, my novel has a large cast of characters and subplots. It covers a time span of several years and requires research for a lot of different settings cultures and myths. I can’t explain it, but I have to get the story out. I can’t write something else. Trust me, I would write something easier if I could.Trust me, I don’t want to be with them either. The Romance and Young Adult writers are so much nicer. I drag my feet, but keep moving forward slowly and surely. But, I’ve never had so much doubt about my abilities before. That doesn’t bother me as much as their indifference. How can they call themselves writers if they don’t love words?

    I really needed to know that I’m not completely wrong. That this isn’t hopeless and if I keep moving i can do it. Especially since, I’ve never wanted anything more than publishing a novel and hearing someone say that I have written a quality piece. I needed to know there were other people out there who loved words and cared about the quality of writing as much as I do.

    So, thank you for that. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles and commiserating. I really needed to know I wasn’t alone, because sometimes it feels like I am.

  46. #55 by Emma Burcart on March 16, 2012 - 7:22 pm

    Thanks for this, Kristen. It makes me feel so much better. The biggest one that bugs me is the family friend who has been published (in a very particular type of non-fiction) who tells my parents that she is worried becuase I don’t have an agent yet. I know it doesn’t work like that, but my parents think she should know because she is published. It makes me very frustrated to say the least!

  47. #56 by mypreciouschild2 on March 16, 2012 - 8:28 pm

    Hi, I am just beginning my journey. I hope I can be able to figure all this out. Thank you for your time and help.

  48. #57 by Team Oyeniyi on March 17, 2012 - 1:45 am

    With a 92,000 + first draft under my belt, I’m prepared to call myself Authenticas! :)

    I’m not saying “One day…”, I’m on the road. I’ve got my first draft done. The might be a long road ahead, but I’m part way there. Perhaps I am in my chrysalis?

  49. #58 by mliddle on March 17, 2012 - 2:57 am

    This post came, for me, at the right time, Kristen. I have been working on my blog posts in advance. These posts come from a file of one paragraph summaries I wrote over the past few months about ideas that came to me at various times. However, as I have sat down to write the posts themselves, they’re informative but not all that interesting to read. In other words, I am STRUGGLING in a BIG way!! Before I read this blog post, I thought that maybe I am not cut out to blog – to write. I have good ideas on the look of the blog site and blog posts, but as far as actually writing all of them – “I am not a writer!!!!” (Imagine a picture of me with red face, puffy eyes, and a runny nose – and of course, the tears.)
    After reading your post and not wanting to not eat the butt,” I said to myself, “See! You are a writer after all. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be in this state of mind and looking like this!”
    So, I’ll continue to read about blogging and the blogging writer and I’ll write my 300 words a day, and I will edit those 300 words. Basically, I will contiue to struggle with writing, because, as you say, that’s what we writers do. Thanks Kristen, for this reminder of an important part of what constitutes being a writer or anything we want to do in life that’s worth something. (I think you have ability to read the minds of your peeps!)

    • #59 by mliddle on March 17, 2012 - 3:07 am

      Kristen –
      I apologize for the lack of paragraphs. On my phone, there were paragraphs, but I guess they didn’t translate when I copied the text into your comment section. Again, thanks for reminding me that struggling is part of being a writer (because I sure struggle a lot – but I am happy when I write).
      Monique

    • #60 by Yvette on March 17, 2012 - 3:47 pm

      Hey a shout out to you Monique (hope I got the name right), don’t you know we’re all telling ourselves the same thing?! I think that we writers often seem to share a thread of self-doubt. Am I a good enough writer? Does anyone care to read what I write? So don’t worry babe, you’re in real good, and vast company! :-)
      Yvette Carol

      • #61 by mliddle on March 21, 2012 - 12:06 am

        Thanks Yvette! I am new to having my writing on display for more than fellow students/professor to see. I come from academia. Blog, fiction, and other type of writing is quite different. Therefore, my self-doubt is high on the scale! I appreciate the solidarity -that I’m not the only one.
        Monique

      • #62 by Team Oyeniyi on March 21, 2012 - 3:33 am

        Monique, like you I come from a different background too and writing a memoir is an entirely different ball game to writing technical computer manuals. So you are definitely not alone!

  50. #63 by tracikenworth on March 17, 2012 - 5:21 am

    Great post, Kristen!! I think a certain amount of struggling is good for us as writers as it helps boost us into the spot we need to be and further struggle lifts us higher and so on. Without challenge we would get bored and boring makes for tragic individuals.

  51. #64 by About Time Publishing on March 17, 2012 - 8:36 am

    Kristen,

    I will admit to being an aspirus. But the borderline between aspirus and authenticas is not very distinct to an Indie writer, especially since the rules of publishing are in a state of rapid evolution right now. Anything could happen!

    I don’t think I was ever a Scrivnus Aspirus Lazytuchus… at least not the lazytuchus part. I have always been spinning my wheels and trying new ideas. However, spinning one’s wheels wastes a lot of energy if it is misdirected. (A mentor once told me I was like a freight train… one that wouldn’t stay on track).

    Though I have been writing for about thirty years, I have only studied the art and science of writing and selling my work for the last five.

    “The business of writing ain’t all butterflies and rainbows!”

    I’ve come to realize that writing is hard work that requires discipline and focus. Serious writers who want to succeed have to treat it like a business. It has to return enough to compensate the effort… a tall order indeed!

    It’s a wonderful time to be an Indie writer because of the new technologies. But that very fact is why a writer can’t just write and expect to sell books. He (she) must be heard above all the noise and confusion of all the other folks trying to sell books.

    The true Scrivnus Authenticas must also understand and embrace the promotional aspect of writing. The good news, of course is that Scrivy is now in control of their own brand. The tools to do it are completely affordable and within reach.

    Hopefully, I will morph from Aspirus into Authenticas using this strategy. If I’m on the right road, I suppose I will see a few marks on the trail that will suggest I am in the right territory (like gaining some followers and selling some books).

    Thanks Kristen, for all the great pointers and tips.

    Michael

    • #65 by Yvette on March 17, 2012 - 3:28 pm

      Snap Michael! I’m the same, I’ve spent the last 27 years writing stories in a semi-serious fashion, but it’s only been in the last 7 that I’ve begun to study it. Likewise it’s only been in the last 7 years that I have worked really really hard at it. I think I began to realize that I wasn’t going to be around forever so I had better step it up a notch. And now, the more I learn the more it seems there is to learn, and I have discovered a seemingly endless reserve of fascination for the subject. These days however, rather than pay lots of money going to teachers, I find I can learn just as much by staying at home and sitting at my computer! It’s fantastic!!
      Yvette Carol

  52. #66 by Donna Jean McDunn on March 17, 2012 - 9:12 am

    Hi Kristen, another great blog. I used to think all published writers wrote perfect prose from the get go. They just always knew the right words to write. After taking my first writing course, I soon learned that wasn’t true and it’s a good thing, because I can’t write anything I don’t have the urge to revise. I love writing, but revision is fun. (My opinion) I never knew there was a look alike Monarch. What a great comparison for writers. Writers are a lot like butterflies, because we start out as larva and develop overtime, with learning and patience, into real writers. Donna

  53. #67 by cindygrasso on March 17, 2012 - 3:33 pm

    Kristen, I am just jumping into the pond of the blog world and have to say I love it. What a great resource you are. Thank you so much for sharing with us your hard earned wisdom and encouragement. I will continue to struggle through and keep punching out words, words, words, and worlds of words. I love that both good and bad ones count! The point is to grow through the struggle not avoid it- hm…. Maybe I do have an idea for a blog and will link back to yours! Thanks again- cant wait until the next one.

  54. #68 by Matthew Wright on March 17, 2012 - 4:40 pm

    Hi – thanks for sharing your thoughts which, to me, absolutely nail the issues! Writing is always a struggle, and it doesn’t get too much easier. I’ve found it’s even possible to struggle with old books – I’ll explain, I was contracted to produce a second edition of one of my old titles. Revised and updated. No problem, I thought, I already spent a year writing it. Easy. Um – no. Pull a thread and the whole argument collapses.

    A friend of mine who lectures at Sandhurst Royal Military College warned me about this – he wrote a definitive New Zealand campaign history which has been in print for 30 years, unrevised. Defined the new form of the genre for the nation, he tells me he’s had other thoughts since but it would mean re-writing the whole book. That’s what I found myself sinking into with this project of mine.

    I I did it, and I have to say it was fun doing the re-write, I like an intellectual challenge. But it took about double the time I’d budgeted. Plus side? The publishers can likely sell it as a ‘completely revised’ edition to the original buyers as well as new. But it was, absolutely, challenging.

    Matthew Wright

    http://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com

    http://www.matthewwright.net

  55. #69 by J. L. Mbewe on March 17, 2012 - 9:59 pm

    Your post was a good reminder that it is completely normal to struggle. A while ago I had a light-bulb moment and I realized that what we buy off the shelf, what we see is the finished product. Gave me hope :)

    Thanks for the reminder!

  56. #70 by Richard Snow on March 18, 2012 - 4:54 am

    Hi Kristen, Kristen, First can I say I appreciate your blogs. I’ve tried to email you twice at kristen (at) kristenlamb (dot) org but gotten bounce back messages, and posting here is the only other way I know to contact you.

    Tameri Etherton told me about your on-line classes in blogging and using social media. She strongly recommended them.
    (I’m from Australia and know her through attending the San Diego conference each February.)
    I put an order for the MyWANA book though by Paypal on 23 Feb, but nothing arrived yet.
    I noticed the program didn’t charge me extra for airmail to Australia.
    Do you send surface mail to addresses out N. America? If I pay a few bucks extra could I get one by airmail please?
    and how do I enroll for the next blogging class please?
    I think you can see my email address as you moderate this post. If you could reply by email and then you could just erase this post, I’d be very grateful. Thanks Richard

    • #71 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 18, 2012 - 8:23 am

      I hate 1 & 1 Web Hosting. There is a mess with my e-mail and web site going on that I have to clean up this week. Sorry for the inconvenience. Will do.

  57. #72 by charismaloy on March 18, 2012 - 2:50 pm

    Thank you for reafirrming those of us who are just barely trying to find our wings! I had a friend who corrected me when I first started doing this. She called me a writer and whenI told her that I couldn’t be until I was published, she lined me out but quick! She said that just because I am not published does not diminish my status as a writer, it just makes me an unpublished writer. I will continue the struggle, mostly because my characters have become my friends. I hope that I get good critiques from those who beta read and edit, because that means I can do better by my new friends.

  58. #73 by Liza Kane on March 18, 2012 - 8:15 pm

    “How did you realize you had been lied to? What tips do you have for little Scrivnum Authenticum?”

    I haven’t been lied to, per se, but I’ve always had self-doubt and have always pre-rejected myself in many things. My mental script was full of “I can’t” or “I’d fail anyway, so why bother?” I didn’t even make it to “The Struggle” to fold under the weight of the work!

    I think the first time I really started to believe that “I Can” was when I started taking control of my health during my junior year of college–especially when I started running (a previous “I can’t”). Not only did I feel physically empowered, but I also felt mentally empowered to take on the world, and seek out new goals to conquer.

    Ten years later, I look back, and realize that one success in one aspect of my life, helped to create success in another. I became lean/fit; became a top performing manager in my company; and FINALLY conquered my internal voices enough to pursue my dreams of writing a novel. (I have since finished two, and have the momentum/motivation to write more!)

    This re-invention has taken a lot of mental work/focus, but instead of proving to myself that “I can’t,” I strive Every. Day. to prove that “I can.”

    Those little, everyday victories over the course of years have given me the ammunition that I’ve needed to tell those internal voices: “See?? I CAN do this!” (whatever “this” may be).

    Great post. I may need to work this into my own blog reflections this week!

  59. #74 by Jane Blaufus on March 19, 2012 - 12:17 pm

    Kristen, are you sure you did not reach into my head and pull out a blog I wrote in January of this year? :-) In that blog I talked about a number of the things you have also touched on. I wondered what I was waiting for to get my book done and I finally realized I was waiting for courage.

    It is one thing to talk about writing a book because it stays inside of you, but actually writing a book is a very different exercise. When you write it, it is no longer safe inside your head but out there for the whole world to see and judge. The thought of actually writing and publishing the book brought a myriad of thoughts to my head and mixed emotions to my stomach.

    • What if people hate it?
    • What if people think I can’t write?
    • What if people think I am trying to garner sympathy?
    • What if the dream I have had all along actually turns out to be a nightmare?

    Wow! Do you think the noise in my head was getting in the way of me writing the book, you bet it was! So last year I decided to get out of my own way and finally write and self publish my first book, WITH THE [STROKE] OF A PEN™, Claim your life. I have been thrilled with the positive reaction that I have received and for the first time in over five years, there is silence in my head because the book is finally out and in print.

    The funny thing is that the noise is beginning to start up again as I noodle ideas around about my second book. Have to get the first one rocking and rolling first :-)

    Keep up the great writing!

    Cheers Jane

    • #75 by Yvette on March 19, 2012 - 3:36 pm

      Kudos to you Jane for getting over your own worry voices! And good luck with your next book!
      Yvette Carol

  60. #76 by Fiona Marsden on March 20, 2012 - 3:51 am

    Thanks Kristen, I was feeling a little down about my lack of aspirational results. But if 8.9 dubious manuscripts count then I can consider myself a writer. We just wont look at any descriptors in front of the word.

  61. #77 by magnaclifton on March 21, 2012 - 9:16 am

    Thank you so much! This encouraged me to keep writing!

  62. #78 by amandalewisab on March 22, 2012 - 11:24 am

    Thank you Kristen for your honesty and for giving me the kick in the pants when I need it! This was exactly what I needed to hear! I also mentioned this particular post in my own blog Amanda Lewis “Fascination”. Thanks for all your help!

  63. #79 by Rhonda Feltman on March 22, 2012 - 11:42 am

    Kristen, you are my new idol. Thank you for looking into my heart and making me realize what I already knew, at the end of the day, I write for myself and no one else. I want to fly, baby, fly.

  64. #80 by A. Valens on March 23, 2012 - 3:20 am

    I really enjoyed reading this article. It made me realize many things, look at things in a different way. Now I understand why some “writers” I know always use the “One day…” line, form now on I’ll be always trying to recognize an aspirant writer. Thank you for make me know that I’m not alone in my struggle, that it is normal in any writer. You just gave me more confidence to go on.

    Thank you very much.

    P.S. Have you ever thought about translate your articles so more people in another languages (let’s say Spanish) can learn from them? I’m studying translation and interpretation, so if you’re interested, contact me.

  65. #81 by Jessica O'Neal on March 29, 2012 - 12:32 pm

    I am soooooo behind on my my blog reading (a little too much struggle lately), which is why I am just now getting to this, but THANK YOU. After first discovering your books and blog I dropped the word aspiring from my vocabulary when telling people what I do, but I still feel the need to explain – no, I haven’t published anything yet; no, I haven’t won any contests; no, I don’t get paid to write; well, yes, I do have another job, but that’s not what I am……. It is exhausting. Even though I don’t use the word aspiring explicitly, I imply it with all of my addendums. So thank you, once again, for reminding me that it doesn’t matter if I am not being paid or published at the moment, I am still a WRITER.

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