Becoming a Writer

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012|Guest posts|by Orna Ross

Elexu would like to introduce Orna Ross, a talented writer (see her recent book After the Rising) and founder of The Alliance of Independent Authors and today she will be sharing her insight with us. She touches on the struggles and dedication it takes to becoming a writer.

A writer is a person who writes.

A writer is a person whose writing is worth reading.

If you want to be the second kind, the kind who is writing for something more than self-expression, the kind who keeps up the good name of this activity of ours, then you need to be willing to work.

To put words through your fingers, like a musician practices scales. To lay down sentences like an athlete lays down miles. To kneel to the mysteries of creation, like a priest before the altar.

You need to prove to yourself that your writing is more important to you than publication or money or fame.

And you need to have practices that cocoon your creative self, that softie within who needs protection from from assaults by the outer world (including your very human longing for money and publication).

The Perils of Publication

Writing and online publishing is the latest way to sell millions, one young writer told me recently. And I meet many new and aspiring writers who have barely put pen to page but can talk for hours about the money their writing will make, about author and publishing celebrities, about the relative merits of traditional and self publishing.

Not so much putting-cart-before-horse as sitting-into-cart-without-troubling-to-harness-horse.

I understand. I was once like that myself. I can still give into such moments. Harnessing a wild horse is never easy. And foolish as it might be to sit in a horseless-cart, it can feel more sensible than admitting the truth.

That we don’t know why we want to tether our wild spirit into words.

That we don’t know where it’s going to take us if we do.

Becoming A Writer

As you forge your connection to writing, you find yourself making vows: “I’m going to write every day”; “I’m going to write 5000 words every week until I have a first draft”, “I’m going to finish this book by Christmas”.

Vows you inevitably break.

You work harder than you’ve ever worked at anything and see yourself fall short.

You read back words that took weeks or months to get right — and hate them with a nauseated disgust.

You feel in your core what Iris Murdoch meant when she said: “Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea.”

And you resent that it is so hard. That nobody seems to care.

But you come back round again.

Because nobody does care, not really. Nobody out there asked you to do this. The call came from inside and that’s the bond you must strengthen.

That’s what enables you to forgive yourself for the broken vows and the work that never lives up to your vision. That’s what brings you to a true understanding of what writing gives — and what it asks in return.

And that – not getting a publisher or an agent or even an audience – is what makes you a writer.

Orna Ross is a bestselling novelist and founder of the The Alliance of Independent Authors so if you’d like to take a look at her book, ebook, or pbook they are available today on Amazon here (USA) & here (UK)