Monday, May 31, 2010

Questions Writers Ask

As an editor and writing coach, I am often asked questions like: Am I a good writer? Do I have potential? Do you think I can sell this piece to The New Yorker?

This question will come up this week at the writing workshop I'm teaching in Doha, Qatar. Many of the fledgling writers here have had little opportunity to take workshops or discuss their literary dreams. I give them a lot of credit for signing up and showing up. I have some answers and suggestions for them but I can't tell them they'll be best-selling authors. I can't tell anyone this, of course.

In this post Jane Friedman, of Writer's Digest, offers solid responses to those Can-I-do-this questions writers so often ask.


Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

Thanks for the Jane Friedman link, Carol. Very valuable perspective.

Whitney said...

Thanks for sharing the Friedman link, Carol. Her commentary on a writer's "essential fire" was motivational for me. She seems to know exactly how I feel as a beginning writer. It is tough at times to keep going when other people seem disinterested in my endeavors, but the truth is, I do it for myself. Sometimes I write because I simply have something to say, and other times I write because my characters give me an outlet for exploring the complexities of people and relationships.

In fact, there is a sort of self-indulgence to the whole experience - to sit at my desk at work and jot notes about my characters for 20 minutes rather than layout my lesson plans or to stay up an extra hour or 2 while my husband is asleep to mettle with the goings on of my imaginary pen and paper world. In some ways, writing is my guilty pleasure.

"Good writer" or not, I am not in it for the critics. I am in it for me.