My wife once worked in a casting office for a local theater. Sorting head shots and arranging casting calls for upcoming plays.
(Uh, Tim. What the heck does this have to do with writing?)
I’m getting to that.
I had to help her sort the head shots one time. There were stacks of them. Some so dusty they’d been there since Shakespeare was a midshipman. She once commented that all wannabe actors should work in a casting office for at least a month. It would show them just how many other talented performers were out there. Schlepping just like they were.
I tried to imagine it. I did. But it never really clicked. I didn’t want to act. So mostly I tucked that comment in the back of my brain as a nifty academic novelty.
Then I logged onto Twitter.
Okay, I’d been there before. Created the account way back in 2008. But only recently did I really try to use the service. Well, now I get what the hypothetical actors must have felt.
Thousands of other writers out there. Not just in other genres, but the exact same thing I write. Lots of them are published. Many aren’t. It scared me.
Sure. I always knew I wasn’t alone. It’s not like my query letters were the only ones agents received. I’d been to conferences. Heck, even a walk through a book store made it obvious how difficult this field is.
But it all still seemed academic. Those writers, after all, weren’t trying to write what I wrote. But on Twitter, I keep running into writer after writer doing the same sorts of things I’m doing. Struggling with the same issues on the page. It freaked me out a little.
Then I rallied.
The scary part about all these people is also the blessing. They’re a community. Their problems are also my problems. There are literally hundreds of writers, all at different points in the publishing process. Some copy editing their galleys. Some attempting to just get that first sale. Either way, they all have something meaningful to say.
So yes, it was a bit intimidating at first. Certainly a wake up call. But hey, writing is something you just do. If you have that bug in you, you’re not going to let it go just cause a few other people got infected too. Man up and accept the fact that it’s a steep hill to climb. It just makes getting to the top that much sweeter.
My 11 yo asked me today how many writers out of 10 get published. One? Two? I bust out laughing, and said more in one in a couple of thousand, if you’re lucky.
I think now with the advent of epublishing, anyone can rightfully see publication. Whether they’ll make any money or see any recognition is still another thing. I think that number will stay in the range of 1 in a 1000 or so.