Over the weekend I attended a Writer's Conference and I must say the results have been life-altering. Not only was I inspired and educated (I took 60+ pages of hand written notes!), provoked and commissioned, stretched and uplifted, challenged and changed, but I received a new job while I was there.
I am pleased to announce that I, Isabella Kiss, am a Writer. Allow me to explain...
No, I haven't quit my waitressing job. No, a major publisher didn't knock on my front door and offer me big bucks to write a best seller. Really, nothing has changed. Except for everything, that is.
Prior to the conference I was still hemming and hawing about writing. In truth, it was little more than a hobby, of which I have many. About a month prior (unknowing that this upcoming conference would be 10 minutes from my house very soon), I decided to take writing more seriously. I determined that, yes, I did still desire to pursue writing; I did still want to be a writer. I wasn't sure where that would take me- what I would write, to whom I would write, or how- but I at least had regained some motivation. When I learned of the upcoming conference, I registered with a hope and a prayer that maybe something big would be sparked in me.
But writing was still one of those "if I have time" activities, though I knew as well as any of us that "if it fits in my schedule" is a laughable concept, because without serious effort what ever really does just fit? Did you know that when surveyed, something like 81% of Americans say that there is a desire in them to write at least one book? But out of that percentage, only about 1% actually do.
Oh good, I thought, I'm one step ahead of the game. I wrote a book. Not published, but at least written. I have a manuscript of around 350 pages which I wrote, rewrote, had edited, rewrote again, then got mad at and locked in a filing cabinet. I wanted to be published. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to send out queries and immediately have every publishing house in NYC calling my house desperately wanting to make my work the next best thing. When that didn't quickly become a reality, the all-or-nothing part of my personality decided if I couldn't, with ease, make it big overnight then I would never write at all. Fact is, I let discouragement beat me. I gave up that manuscript's ghost and quit altogether.
Now, another rough statistic for you: around 8 million unfinished manuscripts are hiding on hard drives and in filing cabinets, unpublished, unread, and mine is one of them.
I cannot begin to sum up all that I learned in the last few days regarding my craft, but something that really stuck with me was this: I have to stop treating writing like it my hobby that may someday be my job, and start treating it like my actual job. Yes, I am still a waitress, with several creative side-businesses. Those are my income. But writing? Writing is my career and it must be prioritized accordingly.
Maybe I won't make big money. Maybe, for the time being, I won't make any. Maybe a massive publishing house won't publishing my first novel and selling millions. Maybe Isabella Kiss will be a name known in my local library and not all over the world (yet). Maybe I must start small. Maybe I will have to self-publish, self-market, and self-make. But one way or another, I have to do whatever I must in order to get that manuscript, and any to follow, into print and into the hands and minds of my audience. I am not giving up on hopes of greatness and broad scope (because I do strongly believe that I have favor by the power of prayer), but for now I am working on learning to embrace the smallness that I must start with and work with what I have in this moment. Maybe someday I will be a household name with a book on every family's shelves and two on their kindles, but for now I have one manuscript and I have to do something about getting it out there. The next step to accomplish that goal is to schedule nonnegotiable time, such as that with a job, and all I may do in that block of time is write (or do something productive to my writing).
So here is my new job: 5 days a week I have to write. (If I write more, excellent. But I cannot write less). On my days off from my "other" job (Monday & Thursday) I intend to write for at least two hours. Remaining days, 1 hour. That gives me at least 7 hours a week. It doesn't matter where I do it, be it my desk, upright in my bed with cat companions on my lap (which would be my current & preferred whereabouts) or elsewhere, and the medium- be it pen and ink, or with my fingers upon my laptop keys- doesn't matter, as long as words are coming out.
Acceptable writing activities include blogging, enhancing my blog/platform/readership, drafting and note-taking, furthering my writing skills, researching publication methods and taking steps towards that goal, working on new pieces (be they big or small), and most importantly, pulling my manuscript out of hiding, polishing it up and readying it to make its debut to whomever may read it. Unacceptable activities include usage of my phone in any way, talking to anyone other than myself, petting cats, watching netflix, or distracting myself with other forms of productive, but non-writing related busy-ness (for me this is most often my other two favor hobbies: crocheting or cooking). Also, all other offers that may come must be responded to with "I'm sorry I can't that day/time; I'm working."
As of today, I am a writer and I intend to take that job seriously. No longer am I treating it as optional or negotiable. I was created by my Creator to create with words. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a manuscript I must see to.