Happy New Year! Today we are going to revisit a favorite series of mine that I call Don’t Eat the Butt. Why? Because typing “butt” makes me giggle. Besides, when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, I guarantee most of you vowed to 1) start your novel 2) finish your novel 3) land an agent 4) self-publish 5) be better about checking in with your parole officer.
Maybe that’s just me :D.
Kristen, Why Are We Talking About “Butts” and What Does This Have to Do with Writing?
We’re getting there! Geesh! Patience.
I like to think about stuff.
A lot of stuff.
Probably far too much stuff.
Anyway, I wonder about the first person who ate an oyster. Was it a dare? Someone lose a bet? What about mushrooms? There are 100,000 known species of mushrooms, yet only 2,000 are edible. How do we know this? Someone had to eat the bad ‘shrooms then pass that knowledge down for posterity (after he stopped seeing snakes).
Who volunteers for this kind of stuff?
But the most fascinating culinary assassin, in my POV, is 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.
Marty: Wow, crazy, Dude. This puffer fish kind of tastes like chick–…*grabs throat and falls over foaming from the mouth*
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 writing dreams if we aren’t careful. Thus, the DETB (Don’t Eat the Butt) lessons are designed to help you guys spot the toxic beliefs that can KILL a writing career. My assistant Chuy (pictured above) is here to help.
In short, Don’t Eat the Butt, It’s Chuy.
This shall be your mantra.
I will not eat the butt. I will not eat the butt. I will not eat the butt. (Romance authors stop sniggering, please. Thank you.)
No butts about it.
bada bump *snare*
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.
Yeah, you’ve got all these shiny resolutions. Yay, for you. But I am here to help you turn resolutions into reality so we need to get your thinking straight. Battles begin and end with the mind.
Without further ado…
DETB Lie #1 I’m not a real writer until I have
- a finished manuscript
- landed an agent
- am traditionally published
- am selling enough books to quit my day job
- am writing full time
- have spent my retirement funds earning an MFA in Creative Writing
This is crap and don’t eat it. What yahoo decided that we aren’t real writers until we meet some silly outside standard of validation? On what plane of existence does this make ANY professional sense? We are writers the second we decide to take this career decision seriously.
Screw aspiring. Aspiring is for pansies. Takes guts to be a writer..
Think of it this way. As writers we are entrepreneurs (refer to this post). Do entrepreneurs use the term aspiring? I am an aspiring restaurant owner. Oh, I am an aspiring landscaper. I am aspiring housekeeper.
If I want a house-cleaning business, the second I gather all of my cleaning supplies and a vacuum together in the back of my SUV and print off some business cards, I am a house-cleaning business. Even before my very first client.
In fact, I cannot land my first client until I first call myself a business. Who is going to let me into their house wielding a toilet brush if I approach them with, “Hi, I am an aspiring housekeeper. I’m still learning the best ways to get rid of soap scum, but maybe you can hire me even though I am not, per se a “real” housekeeper?
The title is not something we earn it is who we are. Our title defines our level of commitment.
Here’s a news flash. There is no license requirement to write books (though it might be a good idea).
Profession by Certification
Doctors, lawyers, accountants, and nurses are professions that require outside certification. This is why they cannot call themselves “Doctor” or “Counselor” or “R.N.” until they take certain exams and pass various levels of professional vetting.
When it comes to being a DOCTOR, we are not a REAL DOCTOR until we have gone to medical school.
Profession of Results
Writers are not the same type of profession. We don’t need a license, an MFA, a finished novel, or an agent to call ourselves writers. We are writers when we decide to write.
Now, we might be bad writers, lazy writers, untalented writers, unpublished writers, pre-published writers but we are still real writers. We are a profession defined by results, not intentions or certifications.
Lose the Literary Training Wheels…NOW
Why Writers Fear the Title
When we decide to use the professional title writer, it is a sign to others that we are no longer hobbyists. Others will expect a certain work ethic to go with our title.
I feel many writers fear using a professional title because we invite a new level of accountability. We fear failure and so we hedge with euphemisms like “aspiring author” so that we can goof off and write when the fancy strikes.
We can never become a professional author if we won’t first claim being a real writer. How we define ourselves affects our choices, how we spend our time, and what we are willing to sacrifice. Those who will not first call themselves WRITER are almost certainly doomed to fail.
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work. ~Stephen King
Writers are professionals who treat their writing as if it is their first, second or even a third job. They have a solid work ethic and they know that they have to ante up and take the consequences for better or for worse. They are mature and no longer playing Literary Barbies with their characters.
The world does not reward perfectionists, it rewards finishers.
So best of luck with 2013, and I will do all I can to help you guys grow and mature and have the dreams of your heart.
Remember! Don’t Eat the Butt…It’s Chuy
For those who need some writer love and support, please join us over at WANATribe, the social network for writers. No ads, no spam, all awesome. We have digital Jell-O shots.
We are not alone!
We also have a wonderful lineup of classes at WANA International. Our digital classroom is state of the art. Learn from home and at your own pace. I HIGHLY recommend Agent Secrets taught by Literary Agent Laurie McLean. She is a FABULOUS teacher and is very savvy with the new options in the Digital Age.
What are your thoughts? Opinions? Fears? What keeps you from claiming the professional title?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, 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 once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. 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.