I’ve been writing with purpose for five years next month. I remember attending my first writers group meeting totally unsure of what was ahead. Was my writing any good? Did I have anything to offer other people in terms of critique? Could I be a writer?
As it turned out, a lot depends on how you define writer. At its most basic level, being a writer means only someone who writes. That could be little Elsie with her diary, Suzette with her blog, or even Ralph with his constant Facebook rants (all names are fictitious, I don’t know anyone with those names). Anyone who has written essays as part of their school work is, technically, a writer.
What I think is meant by writer in the context of “can I be a writer” is the notion of writing for a broad audience. So, no to the diary, no to school papers, yes to blogs and Facebook rants, provided you have a more than, say, fifty followers.
I write for publication in magazines and ezines. Yes, I write for myself, in the sense that I write what I want to write and not what someone else tells me to write, but my purpose is to be published. To get a piece past a slush pile reader, and past however many editors are involved in the process, and get that piece between the covers of a magazine (or on the website, as the case may be).
To that end I’ve had a moderately successful year. I’ve been published six times against ten rejections, a phenomenal ratio I think. I was even paid for one of them. The pieces that are still in progress have been well received by my critique circle and I should be shopping them around this coming year. So, it appears that I do, indeed, have what it takes to be a writer.
As I reflect back today over the past one and five year periods, I look ahead to 2017 and think this is the year that I switch from writing with purpose to writing with a goal. You see, I have my own Mt. Everest to climb. I want to get a full-sized short story into Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (AHMM). Which is fine, except I haven’t been writing any mystery or crime fiction over the past five years. I’ve been honing my craft on general fiction pieces that are more accessible to a wider audience.
This year I wrote my first police procedural type story and now I’m working on two crime based short stories. This vastly reduces my chances of getting published because there are limited outlets for crime fiction (six that I know of). I have to live with that limitation, though, if I want to concentrate on getting good enough for AHMM.
I try to keep these posts to 500 words, so I have to sign off now, but I think I’ll develop this theme of writing with a goal a little more next time. A happy and prosperous new year to you.