When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to live in the big city. I grew up in a small town in rural Michigan, in a farmhouse, literally surrounded by cows and cornfields. So when I fantasized about the future I imagined bright lights and millions of people. New York City was my first choice, followed closely by somewhere awesome in California.
Well, I did end up moving away. First to Ann Arbor when I was 17, and then onto Seattle when I was 21. I ended up in San Francisco by the time I was 25. Each of these places was difficult to adapt to and navigate. Housing was expensive, parking was sometimes impossible, and I had to be aware and vigilant in a way I never had to in my small town amongst the cornfields.
A couple of months ago I posted Writers, Poets, Misfits and Other “Weird” People: It’s Time to Stand Up and Own It and I got an overwhelming response. So many people emailed me to say that they have always felt out of place all their lives, that they never knew where they fit in, or even if they ever would. They were surprised and relieved to find that others felt the same way. Suddenly, a whole new world had opened up to them.
What is it about writing a book that’s so hard?
Obviously, we know it’s a lot of mental work. Committing to the time, unraveling plot and character, editing and revisions. Every step of the process takes energy and attention out of our already busy lives. But for anyone who’s ever tried, it becomes apparent that the hardest part isn’t the time or effort involved.
I joined my first writing program in San Francisco in 2006 and it was great. But—it was just that, a writing program geared toward including a lot of members. The structure was based on a community numbering around 50 different writers. I got a lot of work done in the program (started and finished my first novel), but I didn’t make the close friends I was hoping to find there.
Traditional versus self-publishing has been a hot topic for quite some time now, with authors divided vehemently between the two. I have clients who are self-published and wouldn’t have it any other way. I also have clients who went the traditional route via agent to publisher and would never dream of doing it different.