Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Wishful Writers

If I had a pound coin for everyone who ever said to me, "I've always wanted to write a book..." I'd be a rich woman. Why is it the world and his wife think they can write? Not just write, but craft a novel before they have even written anything at all, they've not even kept a journal or attempted a short story. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not a snob. I'm not one of those people who thinks that writers have to use flowerly terms and unusual words that others don't understand. Au contraire, that means on the contrary :) It's just that writing often isn't taken seriously by non writers. They just don't get it. I mean if they met a doctor they would hardly say to him: "I've always fancied being a doctor and would love to be able to perform major surgery!" because that person knows that unless they undertake X number of years training, they will not have the skills required.

I don't mind helping new writers but once in a while someone will contact me claiming they want to be a writer and then will try to pick the hell out of my brains. I will answer their questions to the best of my ability but when they bombard me with questions I start to think, "Why don't you take a writing course if you don't understand anything at all about writing?" I have suggested this and gone out of my way to provide links to help them. I wasn't born with a pen in my hand, if I had been my mother wouldn't have been very pleased! Okay, I had a flair for writing, my stories were often read out by the teacher, but I thought nothing of it at the time. It wasn't until a few years back that I started to take my writing seriously by joining a local writing group and online ones too, read books about the craft of writing, crafting my first proper short story and article and most importantly of all, getting it out there into the big, bad world. I've had some success, I've also had my fair share of failure, but I never thought I had to get someone to do my thinking or my writing for me, like some writers do.

Yet, these self same writers who claim they badly want to write, never even get started. I had one online friend who told me she wanted to write children's books as that was her dream. I asked her if she had ever written anything. "No," she replied, "I don't know how to go about it." I managed to get her enrolled on an online writing course I was taking, which cost her nothing. A couple of weeks later I asked her how she was getting on with her assignments [these were only small writing exercises]. Oh, I haven't been able to do them as I just don't have the time!" she replied. Now this same woman spent hours upon hours chatting on MSN Messenger. Did she really want to be a writer of children's books? I don't think so. I would pigeon-hole her in the category of, 'I've always wanted to write a book..."

Next time someone tells me that I'm going to say, 'What's stopping you then?" Chances are they will never even get started.

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