Saturday, January 01, 2011

Five Years...

Five years ago today, I started tapping out words. Writing a novel was not on my 2006 to-do list, but a character and his story had nagged me for several months, and I figured, what the heck? Four months and 183,000 words later I had a (pretty awful) first draft of a story I called BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT.

I'd like to say I haven't looked back since, but I often wonder: had I known how damn hard it was to get a story or poem right, would I have even started BTB? Would I have chosen this writing path? Because knitting a scarf or throwing a pot or putting up two-dozen jars of peach preserves is so much easier and much more tangible. Writing IS hard, amazingly hard, the most difficult challenge of my life with the exception of parenting. But writing also is the most rewarding. Indeed, one of the headiest moments of my life was penning 'The End' for the first time. Kind of like giving birth.

Since January 2, 2006, I figure I've written close to a million 'creative' (i.e., non-work) words. This includes two novels (and their discarded drafts), one 'real' short story homing in at 5k words, close to fifty short fiction pieces, a hundred poems, a handful of essays, and with this post, 359 blog entries. Them's a lot of words. The payoff? More than two-dozen legitimate* publications, almost $2,000 in cash**, a few contest wins or placings, and the satisfaction that every now and then something I write makes a difference to another person in some small way.

Life is a journey. Writing is the raft, and the paddle. After five years of delving, of perseverating late nights and early mornings, of hitting blanks and gnawing pencils, I finally feel I can shrug off the mantle of 'hack'. I no longer look forward to the day I become a writer; I AM a writer.

So thank you for helping me row, for skulling down the river of words with me. Peace, Linda

Photo by my son, age 11.
*i.e., involving an editor making editorial decisions.
**the money spent on courses and conferences, books and supplies far outweighs my earnings.


  1. I love your assertion "I AM a writer." Right from the first time I read your blog, there was never a doubt in my mind that you could write and write well.

    Congratulations on your five years of writing, what a great personal accomplishment!

    **I have always felt that the cost of courses, etc. is justified not just in the financial returns that they bring us but the returns in terms of personal growth and fulfillment. Immeasurable.

  2. Five years. What a milestone! Be proud of yourself, Linda, because everyone else is.
    Congratulations! Buy yourself some roses! Sip some champagne! Indulge yourself and celebrate your moment.
    (I have champagne if you need some.)

  3. ah but what a ride it has been - n'est pas? how much have you learned about yourself, what discoveries have you made that peach preserves never taught you? I suspect plenty and that which you would not change for anything... you are after all a is a disease, you can't help it...

  4. Not only are you a writer, but a very good one too! Looking forward to buying my very own copy of BTB!!

  5. Congratulations on the first five years!

  6. A great ride- congratulations on the first five years of what promises to be an incredible journey. I think you hit the nail on the head with: "...the satisfaction that every now and then something I w rite makes a difference to another person in some small way." That to me is the key to being a writer - forget the money and the fame, what matters most are the words we put down on paper and what they mean to the others who read them.

    You're an excellent writer and I enjoy reading your work! Looking forward to all the best in 2011.

  7. Hack? NO. You were never a hack.

    A writer you have always been.

  8. splash! not bad progress for 5 years. not bad at all :)

    Happy New Year!

  9. You are indeed.

    I know that heady feeling of "The End." There is nothing quite like it in the world.

    Congratulations on all your successes, and many many more.

  10. I hit the five year milestone with my WIP last year, and boy I know it's rough. After five years, I'm having to go back and make major revision, but it's salvageable and worth it. Good luck to you this coming year and your son took a really good picture!

  11. Go, Linda! You are a writer, and one of my favorites. Your words have made a difference in my life, and I look forward to reading many, many, more of them. Including that novel which I await with eager anticipation. Thank you for being you.

  12. Well, my daer Linda's muse, happy birthday. I thnk you deserve some cheesecke. Cheers, Linda. So pruod of yuo, sweetie. <3

  13. You are a writer. And, although your peach jam is very good, I'm glad you are a writer. Your words are both inspired and inspiring.

    That's a great photo. Like the inside of a writer's mind.

  14. Hey all, thank you for your kind words and affirmations! (Back to work this week -- I believe my in-box had lots of nookie while I was away).

    One thing I failed to note in my post is that writing is a journey, and as on any adventure, your meet lots of fellow journeyers who inspire and teach you something. If meeting all of you and all the others (whether in virtual or real space) was the ONLY 'outcome', then every word was well worth the writing. What a community we are. Wow. Peace...

  15. Linda! You've only been writing for five years? I'm astounded. Your talent is far beyond a mere five years!
    Thank You So Much for sharing those words with us! May you experience nothing less than a Brighter Than Bright future.