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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 Unpublished writers are plagued with questions like, “How’s that little book you were writing coming along?”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.

Happy reading and writing for the year to come!


Phillipa Fioretti’s author website:

Phillipa Fioretti’s bio page


The Book of LoveThe Fragment of Dreams     House for all Seasons by Jenn J McLeodRotten Gods by Greg Barron - Australian novelistBurning LiesA Distant LandThe Fortunes of Ruby White

Writing Novels in Australia

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. I am standing on the rooftops cheering that post! So, so, true. I am still getting emails from distant friends who have heard and read fhe book. The email goes something like… YOU actually wrote that? LOL It has been great getting to know you, PF. Hope to meet you in person one day.

    December 11, 2013
  2. marlish glorie #

    Congratulations on this wonderful post, Phillipa. Reassurance for any writer on the receiving end of questions like – are you still writing? Or a deafening silence. It’s like if you haven’t written your international bestseller by now, WELL there must be something wrong with your writing.
    I’ve pre-ordered your novel. And if this post is anything to go by, I’m sure that For One Night Only will be a fabulous read!

    December 11, 2013
  3. See you at Homebush 2014?, Jenn? I’ll buy you a drink to celebrate your 4 book deal!

    December 12, 2013
  4. Thanks for your comment and support, Marlish. We toil a way in a misunderstood industry, but there is nothing on the planet I’d rather do! I hope you enjoy For One Night Only

    December 12, 2013
  5. Reblogged this on Jennifer Scoullar and commented:
    I’m time poor right now, hurrying to meet an editing deadline for next year’s release, Billabong Bend. So instead of my usual post, here is a marvellous piece on writing by Australian author Phillipa Fioretti. In 2008 Phillipa was selected for participation in the Hachette Australia/Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program. Her first book, The Book of Love, Hachette Australia, 2010, has also been published in Germany, Romania, Norway, Poland, Serbia and Montenegro and the sequel, The Fragment of Dreams was published in May 2011. Her third book, For One Night Only, will be published by Pan MacMillan’s digital press, Momentum, in January 2014

    December 13, 2013
  6. Thank you for brightening my day. 🙂

    December 13, 2013
  7. A pleasure, AC. Keep writing, Keep Sane.

    December 13, 2013
  8. Another wonderful post, Phillipa, that really resonated. Even when you’re published the unknowing will still judge you according to their reading tastes. I write stories where love and romance share the page with suspense and crime. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard ‘oh, romance… are you planning on writing a real book one day?’ My other career has done a good job of preparing me for that sneer as the most common question I’m asked when I say I fly a 74 seat aircraft throughout regional Australia is ‘So when are you going to fly a real aircraft?’ (Knock me down with a feather but I’m sure a Dash 8 is a certified aircraft 🙂 )

    Thanks to you and the other contributors who’ve brightened my day with some excellent posts this year. Can’t wait to read ‘For One Night Only’ and look forward to many more stories from you.

    December 19, 2013
  9. Thanks for your comment, Helene.

    A ‘real’ book … *snort*!

    EVERY book is hard yakka requiring sustained concentration and discipline, drive, creativity and hope.

    (Every time I see a Dash 8 at the airport -I look for them now- I watch it take off or land and think ‘wow, Helene flies one of those things?’ And they look pretty real to me.)

    December 19, 2013
  10. I think I would have received fewer “odd” looks if I had announced I was joining a weird cult! It takes courage to come out of the closet and declare that “I am a writer”. Greater courage to announce “I am a ROMANCE writer”.

    December 20, 2013
  11. marlish glorie #

    Take a bow , Alison. Indeed great courage to come out as a ROMANCE writer! I’m always perplexed when people sneer at the thought of being a Romance writer. I try telling them how incredibly tough it is. That it takes a special kind of writer to write Romance. Might as well be banging my head on a brick wall! Still, good on you!

    December 20, 2013

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