So I know this week I’m supposed to keep talking about writing a synopsis, but something else has come up that demanded my immediate focus. (Also, I have temporarily misplaced my notes on synopses, so I need to find those before I can go on with that.)
I’ve met a lot of writers. In writer’s groups, in film school, in creative writing elective courses. A lot of them were really terrible. Most were average, not too bad, not too great. Some were very good, and a few were truly excellent. Aside from film school, however, almost all of them considered writing a hobby, a secondary interest. And that’s their choice. Writing is typically a personal affair, even if you’re writing for an audience. Writing most often comes from the heart–or maybe the deepest recesses of the psyche. Whichever way you look at it, few people write content that’s truly impersonal.
So, of course it’s the writer’s business what he or she does with their work. Although I consider it a terrible loss if you’re a fantastic writer and you decide that being a “writer” really isn’t for you. And yeah, I know that may offend. Sorry.
Do you know why you’re writing? Do you want to be a writer? Or is this a hobby? I’m not going to comment on the validity of either. I have been in both places. (Though I think, subconsciously, I have always wanted to be a professional writer.) In film school, we all knew we were chasing careers in the industry. (Nobody dished out that much money just because they thought it would be cool.) In writer’s groups, critique groups, and even conferences, it’s a little less certain. The soccer mom juggling work with home might really plan to be the next J.K. Rowling, and the college student might just want to explore a new avenue of self-expression. It’s impossible to tell what anyone’s plans are.
I was part of a fantastic online group of writers. We had so much fun creating content together, helping each other here and there with this and that. A time came, though, when I decided that writing was the only thing I ever wanted to do. No other kind of job would ever be acceptable, so I started pulling away from the group. I just didn’t have the time to write for fun anymore. Some of my buddies understood this. Some didn’t. I lost my best friend because we couldn’t see eye to eye on priorities, and I still consider it a great tragedy that she chose to continue writing strictly “for fun” when we both knew she wanted to turn writing into a career.
I’m fortunate to be in a great writer’s group now. And I’m even more fortunate to realize that most, if not all, of those writers want to be published. We write for fun, yes, but that is not the endgame. So when it comes to things like query letters, synopses, and shopping for agents, we’re all still speaking the same language. At the same time, these topics have become a true litmus test for determining how serious other writers are–or even how serious they take the entire concept of being a professional writer.
It is not easy, making the transition from hobby to career goal. In anything, not just writing. I understand. But I think it’s important to know where you’re going as a writer. Making that decision has informed everything I’ve done since then. I’m sweating away at my synopsis, one of the most detestable tasks I’ve ever undertaken as a writer. My brain is screaming at me to work on another story, a new manuscript, an old screenplay that’s been lying around, polish the current manuscript, anything except the synopsis. But I won’t allow it. I can’t. I wrote this story with a purpose: to get it published. It wasn’t just for fun, though it was fun–and horrible. It wasn’t to prove something to myself, it wasn’t to reach some sort of catharsis. No, I wrote this great behemoth to get it published. I cast aside months, years of socializing with friends and family, I left behind relationships, I spent money all toward achieving that one goal.
So why do you write? How has that knowledge affected your journey? Are you happy? I’d like to know.