All this time, I've been scared to actually label myself as a "writer." I don't know why. Tehcnically, I've been writing fiction since I was five-years old. But, my respect for the title "writer" has always been a hinderance in feeling as though I have earned the label. Maybe because there are a few prerequisites that I lack in order to completely own it. For one, I have a full-time job that does not involve teaching, journalism, editing, and/or working at home in my PJs everyday. And two, my publishing credits are very slim although I am batting a 50% average (is that a good batting average? I don't know, but YAY me!).
However, I have learned one important lesson that I think will help me begin to feel as though I can one day get there and that is the idea of starting off slow. When I first began writing again after many many years of thinking that it was a waste of time, I went full throttle, no brakes, straight for writing a novel. Being naive and ignorant, I had no idea that what I was trying to do would be so hard. I guess all the stories you hear about where people hit it big right out the box with their first novel made me think it was something that anyone could do, that all you needed was a couple of months (apparently Stephanie Meyer wrote the first Twilight book in three months...having read it, that isn't hard to believe) and some luck. I remember telling an old boss that all I wanted to do was write the next Harry Potter, be the next J.K. Rowling. That's all.
I am laughing my ass off right now...literally cracking myself up at the mere notion of this.
Now, after going through several semesters of my M.A. program, I have come to truly understand just how hard it is to write something worthy of being published. I take that back. Because now, anyone can be published. Anyone with an Amazon account can publish themselves. What I mean by something that is "worthy" is a piece of art, literature, that is long-lasting. That is game changing for me and maybe someone else out there who feels something when they read my story. I also realized something about myself. I cannot learn how to do that while trying to write a novel.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that people are not able to fine tune their writing skills while they draft a novel. But for me, I think it is going too fast. I've decided to work my way up towards something longer. I want to make sure I can tell a good short story before I start trying to tell a long story. This is my process. My confession time here, folks. I need to par things down and really take a look at everythinig I do, everything I write, so close and minute that the long story form now feels overwhelming to me.
I have not given up on my dream to be a novelist. I just think I want to be a short storyist or a novella-ist first, maybe even a flash-ist (but not a flasher...ha ha). I am currently working on shopping a few stories around, trying to get that batting average up towards the 60s. In the meantime, I will continue to return to my novel(s), maybe one day actually finishing them.
For my fellow writers, what is your process? Did you find that when you were just a baby writer, scared to actually call yourself a writer at all, that you needed to start of slow or was jumping into some larger the perfect diving point for you?