© 2001 by Robyn Amos
This article may not be reprinted or distributed without
the author's permission.
5. That whole starving artist thing. They were not joking. We an advance, and then royalties
twice a year. Consider this, could you can make it on two
paychecks a year if you needed to? For me, there are two
keys words to survival: Day job. I have one.
4. Constant rejection. Yes, I sold the first book
I ever wrote, 3 months after I wrote it. So I had the added
embarrassment of being rejected after I was
published. Then of course there's that woman who wrote me
and said, "You had suspense in your novel. I only like
straight romance. Needless to say I've sent your book back
to the publisher." Hey, thanks lady, tell me where
you work, so I can come make your day, too!
3. Forcing creativity. It would be lovely to
court the muse, writing only when inspired. I'll write for
a half an hour this afternoon and again in six months when
the mood strikes me. Unfortunately, to be a published author
or a writer seriously pursuing publication, you must write all the time whether you want to or not. Fortunately,
you learn that creativity is always there. Unfortunately,
finding it is work.
2. Booksignings. Yes, for everyone one hundred fans
that come up and say that my books are wonderful and inspiring,
there's only one that turns her nose up at my books and
announces loudly, "I don't read those books." But ask me which encounters stick in my mind.
1. They don't let you keep the cover models. Yes,
I know that's more of a personal problem. But, the reality
of it is, authors don't have any control over who or what
they put on our covers. I'd think a nice consolation to
that fact would be at least letting me, I don't know, meet
them. Nothing formal . . . dinner, dancing, a 6 month engagement,
society page wedding. I might be inspired to write more
books if I could date the cover models. But I digress. Next
time you see an ugly book cover, don't blame the author,
5. Work from home. For those fortunate
enough to write full-time, you don't have to set the alarm
clock, get dressed in the morning or put on makeup. You
can write at whatever hour you choose, wearing pjs or sweats.
4. Reaching out to the world. All of us think we
have something to say, how many of us actually get heard?
My books reach people I've never met, all over the world.
3. Not everybody get's to do it. If I had a nickle
for everyone who has told me, I don't know how you do it.
I'm not creative at all. First of all, I don't believe that.
Everyone is creative, but if you've gone so far as to say
that you're not, digging for that creativity would probably
be more painful than rewarding for you.
2. I know all my favorite authors, personally. How
many people can walk into a bookstore, stand in front of
whatever books you enjoy reading most, and say, "I
know her, I know him, went a pool party at her house."
1. Ultimate control of our career.
We control the words. I can make the sun rise
and set. Build worlds. Control destiny! Before you start
thinking I have a "god" complex. Let me mention,
that in my long (and I mean long) list of day jobs) I worked
for the American College of
Cardiology. An organization I really enjoyed working
for and one that does really important work. But, if you
want to talk to some people who believe they control life
and death, talk to cardiologists. After that, I went to
work for a while for the Association
for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Eye doctors.
Now, I realize that heart doctors don't have the market
cornered on complexes. When I interviewed for this job,
I told them I was experienced working with doctors, and
if you could work with heart doctors you could work with
anyone. They said, you know that's the running joke around
here. The heart doctor says to the eye doctor, I've held
the human heart in my own hand. I perform delicate surgery
that changes the quality of life. The eye doctor says, Oh
yeah, trying doing what you do blind.
That puts it in perspective doesn't it? But,
back to me. What does that story have to do with writing?
Nothing, other than who wants that kind of pressure? I can
control the rain, I can control destiny and at the end of
the day, no one's going to die and no one's going to go blind.
If I make a mistake, I just hit the delete key. That's the
kind of pressure I can handle.
That's right folks, listen carefully, I am about
to impart important life lessons. But, before you get out
your pen and pad, let me warn you that I'm not going to tell
you anything you don't already know. But, before you doze
off, let me say that there are a lot of things in life that
we've learned and know. But, we don't always remember them,
and therefore, need to be reminded of them.
5. Believe in yourself. It
takes a certain amount of audacity to think you can be a
writer. If you can't stand up in front of a crowd and say
with pride, honesty and full-on conceit that I'm a damned
good writer, then you won't make it. If someone else's opinion
matters so much to you that you can be talked out of doing
what it is you want to do, then you've already lost. Rejection
is a way of life, especially for a writer, and you have
to believe that you will get published. Or if that's not
your goal, then you need to believe you're good enough to
do what ever it is you truly desire doing. Whether or not
it's true is another story. I'm here to tell you it's about
believing in yourself. Whether or not you have talent .
. . I'm not even going to go there.
4. Just say no. No, this does not
refer to Nancy Reagan's war on drugs. And, no, I'm not giving
you advice on what to say to your teenage daughter embarking
on her first date. No one tells you, how to handle it when
success comes too soon. What do you do when you get handed
everything that you've ever wanted right away? No one told
me I could say no to opportunities. When the publisher I'd
been writing for asked me to turn in my next book on Dec.
1, I said, "Sure no problem." But, then, when
a second publisher that I'd always wanted to write for accepted
my proposal and said, "Can you turn it in Dec. 1?"
Of course, I said no. Right? Wrong. I said yes, of course!
Did I turn in two books on Dec 1st? Yes I did. Was that
the most stressful 6 months of my life? Probably. I forgot
the first lesson I learned. You can say no to opportunities
because there will be more where that came from. Believe
in yourself enough to only take on what you can handle.
3. The world doesn't end when you make a mistake. This
time, when I was out of contract, one of my publishers offered
for me to participate in a series. It's such an honor for
the publisher to ask for you, that I overlooked the fact
that they got to dictate what the plot would be, and I accepted
without finding out the storyline. Then when the publisher
I really wanted to write for offered me the contract of
my dreams, I was smart this time. I asked for more than
enough time to write both books. But the plot was so dreadful
from the first book, that when it came time to write the
book of my heart, I had nothing left. And I mean, nothing.
I missed my first deadline. But, they were kind enough to
give me another one. I missed that one too. I thought my
world was going to end and my writing career was over. I
spent a month with the shades, pulled down, deeply depressed,
with the phone off the hook, worrying that they'd call to
ask for the advance back. Fortunately, my editor was very
understanding and they gave me a third deadline, and I'm
happy to tell you that I finally finished that book. I relearned
lesson number one, believing in myself. I didn't lose that
special thing that allows me to write, and my career isn't
over because of one or, in this case, two very big mistakes.
2. Friends. I became a writer believing the expression
that writing is a solitary profession. You write alone at
your computer with noone around to help you. The opposite
is true. I never made so many friends until I became a writer.
The romance writing community is the most supportive in
the writing community at large. Maybe that's because we're
predominantly women and nurturers at heart. But noone understands
what I've been through more than my fellow writers. And
in good times and bad, noone is there for me more than my
community of writers.
1. Love is the answer. Yes, I know, it's very trite,
and, oh, so cliché. But, hey, I'm a romance writer,
and, it's true. Love is the answer. What was
the question? What is the only good reason for becoming
a writer? Because you love it. If you're writing for money,
success, to be on the New York Times bestseller list, to
see your name on a book jacket, or to get dates with cover
models, then you're really wasting your time. The only reason
to be a writer is because you love it. Many writers are
neurotic, many writers are clinically depressed, all of
us are those things at some point in our careers. Many of
us confuse rejection of our work as rejection of us as people.
The only good reason to put yourself through that is because
you love it and you can't see yourself doing anything else.
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