Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Brother-in-law, The Writer

My brother-in-law is retiring this year. He is a superior court judge in a rural county in California who has always been good with the written word. Up to now, his hobbies have always been fairly limited in scope. He's always wanted to be a cowboy. This fascination, with all things pertaining to the old West, came about in the 50's when his parents gave him a coon skin cap and Davey Crockett flannel pajamas. Most of us grow out of our childhood passions--not David. Recently, he and his wife purchased a cattle ranch on 145 acres in New Mexico, near the Apache Indian reservation. When their house sells they intend to relocate to this place. He graciously informed us that they have plenty of land if we ever want to move there. I considered it for a couple of nano seconds, but declined once he mentioned that the post office was in the back of a tractor trailer rig, taken off its axels, in the nearest town, 58 miles away.

He has been very supportive of my efforts to become published so I have tried to be happy for him. After all, he is going to be living his dream. In one of our recent conversations about his new life I asked him what he expected to do to take up all his new found free time. Without missing a beat, he informed me that he intended to "do some writing". It seems he has an idea or two for a couple of courtroom thrillers. I have to admit that I am pleased. It will be nice to have someone in the family who understands what writers go through before being published. I suggested that he get involved with a writer's group as soon as he begins the process. I pointed out that it will save him some time down the road. Although he did agree that it was a good idea, he said he wanted to wait until later because he didn't want anything to keep him from writing his book, his way. Boy, does he have a lot to learn!

I look at writing differently than I did when I first started. I have less stars in my eyes and a wider butt. I am not jaded, just pragmatic. Although there is a creative aspect to the business of writing, it is indeed a business.

How have your ideas changed about writing and the writing process? What has changed in the way you view the industry?


Christine said...

Oh, the things I have learned since embarking on the writing journey! I admit, I was quite an innocent 5 years ago. Now I am fully aware of difficult this industry is to break into and how much work there is to perfecting my stories. And I know how important it is to pursue this on a professional level. Just making PRO has opened doors for me I'd never known how to walk up to and knock on.

I can't tell you how many people I know tell me they are "going to write" some day -- that amazing book -- when they learn I am a writer.

I also suggest joining writing groups immediately. They usually don't jump on the suggestion.

Oh well. I know how valuable my writing chapters, the RWA and the PRO status are to me. I'm glad I learned that pretty fast!

Christy Reece said...

I think I could write a book...maybe several on what I've learned in the years since I started writing and since I joined RWA. And I could write another book or more listing all the things I still have to learn and don't know.

It's all a learning process and I realized long ago that people have to learn things on their own, in their own way and in their own time frame.

My process of learning has been writing, then writing more. And asking questions and then asking more questions. And in this process I learned that I wasn't as bad as I feared and not nearly as good as I thought or as good as I want to be. (o;

And yes, as much as I LOVE what I do, I have realized it is a business. I use my heart to write, but I have to use my head when it comes to anything else to do with writing. Because if you only use your heart, it's definitely going to get trampled on.

Great thought provoking blog, Diane!

Karen Beeching said...

I think the biggest shock I've learned along the way is the amount of self-promoting and networking a writer has to do to become truly successful. As a shy, humble introvert, to believe in my work and myself has been my toughest challenge.

It helps to have supportive writing groups and spouses who keep us going when it would be so much easier to throw in the towel.

Wonderful blog, Diane.

Carla Swafford said...

I've gone from believing if I finish one book, it will become published (like build it and they will come - love that movie) to Lordy! Does nobody want any of my books?!

I remind myself getting published has the same odds as winning a lottery. And goodness knows, I've bought only...hmmm...checking number of submittals...only 34 tickets over many years. Of course, there are those few who win with one or two tickets, but we won't go there. ::sneer:: LOL!

One biggy I've learned is most if not all cannot do it alone. I have no support at home and had to place my foot down. Writing stays, and you go if you complain. Yep, he keeps his mouth shut most of the time about that now. But thankfully I have my RWA writing buddys (past and present). I'VE LEARNED SO MUCH!!!

Sure, some people have pure talent (rare) and/or an English degree (not so rare), but I can tell you I'll appreciate my first sale more than they ever will their own. My 2 cents.

Kate Diamond said...

I think I have a much healthier respect for the time and energy it takes to create any book--let alone one worth publishing. Before I became a writer, I was quick to jump on any book I didn't enjoy and describe it to all and sundry as "bad."

I am still a fairly critical reader. But now that I appreciate how long it takes to finish writing a book, I am much less public with my critiques.

M.V.Freeman said...

I have learned that nothing comes easily, especially with writing.

I also learned you have to write, write, and write some more--and then learn how to revise, sell yourself, sell the book....and the list goes on and on.

All right, I'm still in the writing stage....