Going Public With Your Writing Habit, by Phillipa Fioretti
It’s not easy to start writing and be taken seriously. Many, many people write – seven percent of Australians according to one source – and so few are traditionally published. It’s the cruel fact that underlies the writing life. Those who know the industry understand this. They also know that what is published is largely dictated by the market and that many incredibly talented writers are passed over and never get their chance.
It’s not really common knowledge in the non-writing world that this is the case. Unpublished writers are plagued with questions like, “How’s that little book you were writing coming along?” and “Have you got a publisher yet?” Is this people politely taking an interest? Yes, sometimes – but also a faint undercurrent of scorn, with the unspoken label of ‘wannabe’ hanging in the air. Adding this inevitable response to the traditional self-doubt of a writer can magnify the secrecy and isolation of the writing life. Nobody wants to be seen as a wannabe.
If you were spending your free time building a canoe or learning a language you would not receive that look, the one that says, ‘you ego driven wanker’. One occupation is deemed a hobby, the other tainted with serious unmet ego needs pointing to a quite possibly unstable head case who was denied the breast during a crucial window of their infantile development.
So what? While that may indeed be the case, there is no shame in it, to my way of thinking. Aspirations to become an author, or an artist or an actor are nothing to hide away or apologise for. The work required to get even close to success in these areas is substantial – and anyone who works that hard for a dream has to be due some respect.
Adopting what one believes to be the ‘style’ of one of these occupations, without putting in the necessary hard work, without doing the research but with an over inflated sense of self importance because you do aspire to these occupations, is possibly something of a shameful act.
Writers are no different, in most respects, to non-writers in society: no better, no worse and not distinguished by the mystical hand of genius tapping on their shoulder each morning. There is one small detail that does distinguish the writer from the general population – the willingness to put in hours of toil for little financial gain, but that’s about it.
I kept my shameful, dirty writing secret hidden for a couple of years. I couldn’t bear the patronising curl of the lip, the snigger or the ‘oh yeah?’. So it was a huge thrill to come out and say, “My name is Phillipa Fioretti and I am a writer.” I’ve since met many people who write and who confess they are unpublished. I want to tell them not to apologise and not to lose heart – what you are doing by writing stories and imagining worlds, people and places is a very human thing to do. It transcends the daily scrabble and gives you a place to dwell in, a place not confined by status, occupation, income, looks or any other social ranking. The Urban Dictionary describes a ‘wannabe’ as “wanting to be something you are not”. But if you ARE writing hard and in a disciplined way, you can’t technically be a ‘wannabe’, now can you …
This is my final post for Writing Novels in Australia. It has been good discipline trying to come up with topics that can inform and entertain the readers of this blog. Thanks to Steve Rossiter for giving me the opportunity to contribute.
My third novel, For One Night Only, will be published next year by Momentum. So if you like romantic suspense with a little humour on the side, rush to your ereading device on January 15, 2014, find your favourite ebook platform, enter my name or the book’s title and press Buy.