I had one of those conversations the other day, where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. My head was wedged into the porcelain torture device more commonly known as a hairdresser’s sink and the young girl washing my hair was talking about her sister who’s studying English at uni. I asked, as you do in these situations, what her sister wanted to do when she finishes. “She quite likes the idea of writing books, so I think she’s going to do that.” Did I tell her how difficult that was? Or ask her to pass on to her sister that she should have a back-up plan, a postgraduate certificate in teaching perhaps? Of course I didn’t, I just nodded and laughed inwardly. Drawing here on a melting pot of WR experiences, this is what I should have said!
Ode to a Writer
You want to be a writer and your mum’s your biggest fan,
Poems penned at eight-years-old convince her that you can.
Your dreams you keep them quiet, until you’re Brahms and Liszt,
You tell your friends who laugh-out-loud and soon you get the gist.
“A living as a writer? I suppose there’s always hope,
You stand about as good-a-chance to get elected Pope.”
You read a lot of ‘how to’ books, but not quite ready yet,
You spend enough on stationery to beat the national debt.
After learning twelve new swear words and an awful lot of graft,
Your book’s more holes than Swiss-cheese, but at least you’ve got a draft.
A hundred versions later, to submit it you’re all set,
And stop hiding from friends’ demands if it’s been published yet.
Out to publishers and agents, sure the slush pile it will ride,
But what if they all want it? How on earth will you decide?
You start to stalk the postman, your relationship you taint,
He’s forced by your obsession to an order of restraint.
He just brings pizza flyers, not a flaming other thing,
Your email’s also empty and your phone it doesn’t ring.
Then a meeting with an editor! To pitch it in one line,
It takes deep consideration and a bucket-load of wine,
A teenager in hot pants rejects the book as “out of style”,
You’d like to run her over, but you force yourself to smile.
“Your target market’s disappeared, your genre in the past”,
Another pitcher full of wine? You swear this is your last.
Who needs a publisher anyway? Self-publishing’s the key,
To notice it amongst the rest, you start the book for free.
You don’t let stats stand in your way, you know you’ll be the one,
To earn enough, once you charge, for mansions in the sun.
Your statement comes from Amazon, the sales they do amaze,
Enough to buy a whole doughnut, but only without glaze.
A fab five-star reviewer puts the smile back on your face,
But then there is the one-star for that comma out of place.
Mad to be a writer? We’re afraid that much is true,
Take comfort that you’re not alone, as we’re all crazy too.
And if we weren’t still writing, how would we spend the time?
Now pass us back that laptop and another glass of wine.
I probably could have written another twenty verses, but despite all this the WRs wouldn’t – or more accurately couldn’t – swap writing for anything else. Happy writing all you crazy fools! Jo x