I love to write. I’ve been writing for a long, long time. I write blogs, fiction, the assorted poem, and I even wrote a song once. When I say I write fiction though, I’m not talking about short stories… I’m talking about full length drama-filled shots of life, or in a word, books.
Yes, I write books, and yet I have a very, very hard time saying that. I often say, “I write fiction,” or “I write stories,” I’ve even been known to say, “I write book-length fictional stories…” but to say that I write books for some reason freaks me out. I think when most people hear that statement they think of books stores and libraries, not online fiction. So if I were to say I’ve written five novels since 1999 (which I have), I sort of expect people to respond with, “So where are they?” If the book isn’t in a store or able to be bought, it’s not a “real” book… or at least that’s what my mind tells me when it comes to my own writing.
Writing fiction for online purposes is a lot like writing for a soap opera where the characters lives just sort of keep going on and on (and on) until finally the writer figures out a way to end the epic drama. Chapters for online fiction can sometimes be like a snapshot into the lives of the characters, not exactly needed for the plot, but still something that adds to the character development and gives the readers something new to explore. But when you’re writing for publishing, there are length guidelines and all of the extra fluff gets taken out sort of like condensing a soap opera into a feature film. Either way though, it’s still fiction, it’s still hand crafted, and it’s still a book no matter how long it is.
Take for example the book I’m currently reading on Bizkit, my handy dandy Nook, “Dead in the Family” by Charlaine Harris. This novel in the e-book format is 243 pages of vampire, fae and werewolf smutty drama. “No Rest for the Wicked” by Kresley Cole… 285 pages, “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold… 214, and “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo is 448 pages. The longest story that I have written is 651 pages in e-book format. Another one of my finished works is over 500 pages as an e-book. So in looking at just pure volume, it’s pretty clear that I write books, not “stories.”
I literally have people all over the world who read what I write. Some who I’ve met and have become a part of my family, and the only reason we met each other was because they read something I wrote and took time out to send me feedback or strike up a conversation about a chapter. I adore the relationships I’ve made through writing, and yet there is a whole group of people in my life who have never read my fiction or my previous blogs. Most of those people happen to be those who I know IRL (that’s “In Real Life” for those of you not in the know). People who I see on a regular basis and who know my real full name, not just what I’m known as online. In other words, people who could read what I write and not like it, then I’d still have to face them knowing that they think I’m full of crap. That isn’t to say however that everyone who reads me is someone who I’ve met online. Some of my very close well-trusted offline peeps have read my stuff and are some of my biggest supporters. They’re the ones who say, “You have to keep writing! You need to be published! Stop putting yourself down!” and honestly I love them for it.
Supportive peeps and online groupies aside though, I still struggle. It’s taken me years to be able to read some of my writing and actually think, “You know what? This actually is good…” I am my own worst critic and often the person who gets in the way of my desire to write. As much as I love writing and as often as I am creating a chapter, scene or conversation in my head, I don’t always think of myself as a writer… an author. “Author” seems official as if in order to say you’re one you have to be getting paycheck for it. Writer on the other hand is somewhere between a hobby and a true author, like a person who is just about to get a book deal but hasn’t quite penned the agreement yet. Which leaves me as “a chick who writes…”
I know it’s all in my head, just like most of my insecurities are. I know that if I believed in myself more it would be easier to pursue this dream of mine. I know all of the things I need to know, I just don’t follow my own advice. I tell my fellow writers who compare their writing to mine, “Stop comparing yourself to me, you’re your own person and you are great!” then I turn around and tell myself, “Man I suck compared to such and such, I’ll never be able to write like that…” I am the poster child for “Do as I Say Not as I Do” when it comes to advice on writing.
I know it’s hypocritical and silly, I know all of this, but I also know that the mind is a strong thing. I know that my inner critic is made up of a lot of different people, situations and life lessons. I hear the echo in my head of the fifteen year old conversation during which I was told that journalism wouldn’t be a wise career choice, and I remember the four years that followed where my creativity died.
I do, however, also remember when my muse came back and I began to find my voice again. I remember being totally obsessed with writing and how amazing it was. Boring college classes, lunches, and coffee breaks were just another place for me to write in my notebook. My whole world felt like it revolved around my plots and characters and getting that next chapter written and put online. I lived for the feedback from my readers and gave Feedback of the Day Rewards to people who made me giggle the most or gave me goose bumps. I loved it. I miss it.
Who knows if I’ll ever be a published author? I hope so and dream about it. I know in my heart when I read some purchased novels that I am a better writer than some of these paid authors. I catch the typos and glaring mistakes in novels that crit groups, beta readers and editors somehow miss. I know that I have talent when it comes to writing, I just need to work on believing it all of the time instead of just part time.
So here’s my first baby step. Hi, my name is Kellie, and I’m not just a chick who writes, I’m a Writer.