#iamwriting · Writing

The woes of being a wordsmith

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“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ― Neil Gaiman

It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was still sat in a classroom learning how to write, and even stranger than I thought good writing could ever really be learnt. I feel somewhat wiser and smugger now, remembering the person with a year less experience… remembering a person who was so certain they were ready to be a writer, without ever considering how they’d go about it.

Throughout my time studying a Creative Writing degree, and throughout my whole life actually, people have always scoffed when I’ve revealed that I want to be a writer. ‘Well, be prepared to be unemployed’ they’d always tell me sarcastically, as though it was so overly ambitious and unattainable to ‘be’ a writer. And yet I am a writer. I always have been. Ever since I was ten and wrote an entire novella called ‘The Adventures of Cindy Smackeroons’ about a sassy male cross-dresser who hated humanity.

You’re constantly told that to be a writer, you have to either find a job that gives you the luxury of time to write, or find a job so interesting that it’s worth writing about. But actually, as soon as I graduated, I found a job that gave me neither of those things. Because amazingly, I was lucky enough to find a job that allowed me to write, demanded it in fact, and without it I’m not sure where I’d be. Writing in any form, whether it’s a book review, news article or blog introduction still counts. The secret is to make those 200, or 150, or even just 50 words the best they can be, and choose every word as if it were poetry.

Stumbling across a magazine job in Dorset is like finding a packet of Starbursts with more than five red ones. It simply doesn’t happen. And yet I was hired as the Editorial Assistant at an established craft company because I wrote, could write, and wanted to write. docrafts Creativity magazine has given me so much insight into the magazine marketing and publishing industry, and even though it was a stop-gap to other things, I’m so grateful that somebody took a chance on a Creative Writing graduate who just wanted to write. I wrote my first ever feature for the magazine this month about ‘The Evolution of Craft’, and it’s the most incredible feeling to read nine pages of a magazine knowing that they were written by you (with the help of an incredibly talented and patient sub editor, who has taught me everything about punctuation and patchwork).

In a month’s time, I’ll be out in the world again as an unemployed writer. And though a year ago this might have terrified me, now it’s just exciting. I can cover it up as ‘freelancing’ all I like, but essentially I have made the choice to be a writer, so that’s what I have to do. Write, and be patience, and know that to make my next writing debut, I have to write my way into it.

Don’t ever let anyone scoff when you introduce yourself as a writer. If they do scoff, demand they read your writing and defy them not to read the passion you have for your art. Don’t be intimated by the vast and competitive nature of writing jobs, and definitely don’t settle for a small and quiet life just because of a few (thousand) setbacks. Keep knocking on every door, keeping searching for exposure, and remember why you started. We all have these words in our heads that we are compelled to share, and it’s your duty to do so.

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