I aspire to be an aspiring author

You see a lot of it on Twitter, well, certainly the bits where I hang around. I think I currently follow about two hundred or so “aspiring authors”. Why? Probably because I like knowing that there isn’t just one person out there as insane as me, there’s stacks of them! We all want to be published and, preferrably, get paid for it too.

To be honest, I feel like I’m not even a proper aspiring author. Of course, the key word is “aspiring” – technically it means we aspire to be authors, not that we aspire to be published authors. But my brain has translated it to mean “authors that are published, either traditionally or by themselves, and make money at it”. At a pinch I can make it mean “authors who write as well as do other things”. Which is possibly quite a lot to ask of one word, but there you go.

I joined Rachael Harrie’s Second Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade, which I now think was a mistake. Not because you have to follow and actively take part in a lot of blogs in order to fulfill the spirit of the crusade, although it is time-consuming and I’m not very good at it. No, I’m regretting it because there are so many authors on there with things like “So I submitted my third contracted book today – hope the editor likes it” or “I just got an agent – SQUEEEEEEEEEEE” or “I have published 2 books with XYZ Publishing and am currently working on my nth contracted book”.

For someone who hasn’t even submitted anything to an agent, let alone have one, and who has never published anything at all anywhere, the SWPB Crusade is a rather scary place to be. I found out this morning that in order to qualify for prizes in last week’s challenge you have to follow every Crusader’s blog. I got through about thirty of them before having to take a break. These people are scary! They blog, they write, they query and they submit – they also do it while looking after thirteen Vietnamese orphans, eighteen zebras and two aliens from the planet Oogaboo (also often referred to as “children”).

These are the aspiring authors that I think of as being successful. They have lives! As well as the writing! My critique partner homeschools her five children and is ill and is still writing! Is it really any wonder I feel inadequate?

After all this stress I took my single, childless self off to look for chocolate. Which I don’t have any of and can’t buy because I forgot I don’t get paid today, I get paid on Monday. This weekend the International Bank of Mother will be buying my chocolate. I hope. I bet those other successful aspiring authors don’t have to get loans from the IBM to buy their chocolate…

About Mhairi Simpson

Writer, dreamer. Magic, dragons, pink mice, cake. Come say hi!
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33 Responses to I aspire to be an aspiring author

  1. Trisha says:

    Hey, you and me can be slacker buddies together πŸ˜€ I’m an ASPIRING AUTHOR who has submitted the odd query, but really hasn’t got serious about it yet because I’m simply not ready. I have a LOT of work to do before I’m even at that point. And I work full time, but I don’t have kids or sponsor zebras or whatever πŸ˜›

    So YAY, here is your fellow slacker Crusader buddy signing in! πŸ™‚

  2. Liz says:

    You are not alone. I queried for a bit, but then I realized that my novel still needed work. That was a year ago. So, I’m still way, way back in the “aspiring” phase. (And I’m single and childless, too. It looks like this will never change.)

    We’re not all published. Keep at it. I need more people in this thing like me.

  3. It’s possible my previous comment was eaten by HTML fail. If so, to recap, I empathized and recommended reading this:


    Carry on!

  4. Please don’t feel discouraged. I’ve been writing for well over a decade and haven’t published any novels either. However, I’m at the point where I feel confident in my general writing ability but can see areas in my storytelling that still need improvement. You can learn a lot from people who are farther along than you are; they’re generally better at critiquing your work. Also, as a working mother, it’s a lot harder to find writing time these days than when I was single. I write because it’s important to me, but I have to drop a lot of normal activities, like watching TV or going out, to do so, and I don’t have big blocks of writing time, so progress is painfully slow. It’s true that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence!

    • Oh I wasn’t suggesting that I wanted a family, just that I have respect bordering on depression for writers with jobs and families that do write! I am definitely better off without having to look after a family. In the end, we write because we can’t not write.

  5. I thought about joining that crusade too but I really wasn’t up for following all those blogs. Guess I’m just lazy or not aspiring enough…. I’ll say lazy though because it gives me more time to aspire with my writing. =P

    • The challenge was fun, even if I’m not eligible for any prizes because I didn’t see the bit about following all the blogs. But it was fun πŸ™‚ Gave me some ideas for future posts, as well πŸ™‚

      I wouldn’t say either lazy or not sufficiently aspiring – just not your thing, and that’s absolutely fine πŸ™‚

  6. Pingback: Short Story Fridays: The Gate P.3-Watching the Watchmen | Neither Here nor There….

  7. Pingback: Tweets that mention I aspire to be an aspiring author | Anne-Mhairi Simpson -- Topsy.com

  8. Liza Kane says:

    I aspire to be an aspiring author too! πŸ˜‰
    we’re all on different stages of our path, and all have our own “a-ha” moments to get us to where we need to go next. I’d been dreaming about writing stories for most of this past decade, but only “realized” that I can actually be a novelist this past year–soon after the realization, I finished my hot mess of a novel for nanowrimo and am working this year on a second wip and practice the art of submission/queries/etc.
    As long as you’re happy writing, I think you’re walking a perfectly fine pace on your writer path.

  9. yves says:

    You are sooo not alone! I am not published either, I have been working on this same story for many years, like eight. Eight effin’ years, seriously? I still can’t believe it’s been that long, but I am one of those multi taskers (work/school/husband/one oogaboo) and I don’t have as much time as I’d like…I agree as long as you’re writing, you’re moving forward. I try to look at the published crusaders as motivation…one day we’ll cross that bridge πŸ™‚

    • I do find them very motivating – I think there are just days when you hate everyone! Well done on sticking with your story for that long – have you considered NaNoWriMo? It might help you get it finished, if nothing else.

  10. Devon says:

    I completely understand. I’ve had an idea, unlike any out there for some time, ..but having the time to write it, and work it…eludes me. So, the story firms and grows, firmenting in places, changing in others..you are to a degree, an inspiration to others just by DOING it. You keep at it, and keep talking about it too.

    • Dude, gotta tell ya – a hundred words a day gives you a novel length manuscript after two years. If the story won’t leave you alone, you’ve just got to start writing it down. I can say from experience, once you start writing you will find the time to keep doing it. You can achieve quite a lot in fifteen minutes. It certainly doesn’t take that long to write a hundred words.

      Or you can use the fifteen minutes a day to start writing down characters, plotlines, subplots, events. I did that for five weeks before I started writing the actual novel. A plan is a great thing to have, so work on that first.

  11. Akoss says:

    So here is a *pat* on your back, followed with a *hug*
    Like everybody above, I’m in the same boat as you are. In fact I had another day of “suck” yesterday. But trust me you are not alone. It’s ok to read about those who have crossed the “agent” or “published” bridge, as long as it motivates you more than make you feel, well… not so happy. Plus the point of the Crusade is to create bridges with people like you or almost like you to help you advance and grow as an aspiring author until hopefully one day you become one.
    Happy Friday πŸ™‚

    • *purr* Loving the pat and the hug, thank you very much πŸ™‚ The Crusade is a great idea, I just didn’t make the connection between “getting to know lots of other writers” and “finding out that, yes, there are writers out there doing more than you with less free time”. Just me being blonde. Seriously, I take my hat off to everyone who writes and is agented and published and sells books, or who only writes at the moment, but does it all while juggling work, family and oogaboos.

      You’re all amazing. I want to be just like you when I grow up. Possibly minus the oogaboos.

  12. yves says:

    Oh, its been finished…twice πŸ™‚ however, the more I learn about this writing/publishing process, I go back to either revising it or putting it on hold just because I want to do it right. And that work/life/write balance thing is a challenge. I’m self-pubbing it and there’s a lot for me to learn, but I will finish. I’m determined πŸ™‚

    • Have you queried agents about it? It might be ready to go as it is? Or you could send it to a professional critiquer to see what they say…

      On the other hand – it’s your dream. You should play it out exactly the way you want – Good luck! I look forward to reading it – what genre is it?

  13. It may seem impressive that people juggle a family and writing, but some write because they need sanity after juggling a family. Be glad and enjoy the bank of Mom, and don’t forget to share the chocolate.

    • Hahahaha Good point. I’m actually going to try and avoid the IBM. Technically I should be able to survive the weekend on bread, butter, marmite and egg mayonaise. I also have some noodles and rice in the cupboard, so I won’t starve. I have just enough for another pack of paprika-flavour Walkers Max at some point over the weekend, so that will be my treat.

      The chocolate craving passed, but if I get desperate there’s an unfinished box of Ferrero Rocher on my bed which I am very happy to share with anyone who comes by… πŸ™‚

  14. Robin says:

    Hi! I found you by way of Andrew’s tweet by way of Kait Nolan. There’s six degrees of separation in there somewhere. I love your post and have enjoyed perusing through your other posts. I’m also one of those perspiring aspiring authors whose never submitted anything. Yet! I’m still in the learning stage – writer in training. As the other folks have mentioned, you are not alone in all of this. The one big plus about the internet is we get to learn from each other, be cheerleaders and be encouraging. And we get to shadow those authors who made it and see how they did it. Everyone’s story is unique – including yours. We each have our own paths to follow. Chocolate sounds good just about now. Off to borrow from my son’s nestle crunch stash and then get myself onto the tread mill. Nice meeting you!

    • Well, thanks for coming by πŸ™‚ I don’t care how many degrees of separation there are, what matters is that you found me πŸ™‚ I have actually submitted a bunch of stuff in the past, when I really shouldn’t have and in ways that now make me cringe. Thankfully, mostly because of the internet, I have learnt the error of my ways and hope to at least not make the same mistakes next time!

      I hope you enjoyed the chocolate and the treadmill. I look forward to talking to you and seeing your writing πŸ™‚

  15. Hey Anne-Mhairi,

    Here’s a huge hug *hug*, and I do know how you feel. But I’d agree with Akoss, and Ben too. And remember, sometimes a lot of us seem super organized and efficient, and really we’re just holding it together by a thread!

    In my opinion, one of the hardest things you have to do if you want to become an author is to realize how much you have to learn. Well done you, you’re well on your way to publish-dom!!! And with such a great writing community around us, we’re all in great company I think πŸ™‚



    • The trick is to make sure no one else sees the threads, right? Thanks for the comment, much appreciated πŸ™‚ I agree that it’s great to have so many writers around – takes away the isolation aspect of being a writer πŸ˜€

  16. Matt Knox says:

    I really liked this post. I’m also an aspiring author in the middle of writing my first novel. I’m close to finishing my manuscript and I’m really looking forward to the editing process. I can’t wait to have my first novel available for purchase πŸ™‚

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