A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
I've had more than a dozen different odd jobs since my adolescence, but I have to say, being a writer has been the oddest.
Not only do writers funnel hours and hours into soul-searching, scaffolding, and sculpting a story or other piece of written art (sometimes for years, even decades, alongside other jobs, parenting, and life demands), they often do it long before ever seeing a paycheck, and long before anyone even calls them a writer.
As if overtaken by a force beyond their control, they purge out words that capture mere snippets of their dreams and nightmares, rough ideas and insights that first emerge in their most raw and rudimentary form. And ever so slowly, they learn to pause and breathe and find the space and clean slate to rearrange, sand, and polish them into sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, searching for the secret trails and trade secrets of the many masters who've walked ahead of them.
Even when attending writing classes and poring over books to further finesse their aching passion and craft, many still don't dare call themselves an "author," uncertain what kind of "legitimate" marker would officially endorse them as one. Most never come across a job description or have ever been interviewed for a position as a writer. Nor have they worked under a boss who evaluated their writing skills at regular performance reviews. Their writing, whether shitty or stellar—and this is true of some of the most famous authors today—has at one time or another been subjected to the same sledgehammer: a standard two-line, "thanks, but regretfully not this time" rejection letter.
These diligent writers, both sensitive and thick-skinned, clock in and out, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, for no other reason than to birth that burning story, and to keep carving out their truth without any guarantee that their written gems will ever be crystallized in published print.
My writing career so far has been no different. I only adopted the term "writer" about a year ago when one of my mentors casually called me an author on a social media forum. It felt like a badging ceremony, one to write home about, like a true writer.
Yesterday's consult with Elizabeth Kracht, the editor who's working on my memoir, Amazon Wisdom Keeper, gelled the sense of being a writer more deeply into my core. How did she do it? Her first set of compliments just offered huge relief, actually. "Just awesome. Pretty amazing what you've done with these chapters. I didn't write you an editorial letter, because you didn't need one!"
I'd reorganized the entire first part of my story in straight chronological order, wove in a love story with parallel themes, and strengthened my character's innate qualities and background to boost her amazon warrior potential before sending her off to tackle dogmatic misalignments in the field of clinical psychology. It's hard to believe that all this passed my editor's laser sharp scalpel and that I'm really on the last round of edits, aside from some final finessing.
What really brought out the sense of, Hell, yeah, I'm a writer and a darn good one, was hearing her say, "You really hit your writing style, the way in which you weave everything in. It's such a rich story, and you get just enough in to leave us satisfied, but it is slow enough to really stick close to the story. I prefer shorter chapters, but there are exceptions to every rule. You are one of those people who really need that space because of all that rich information."
I finally found common ground between presenting subtle and original content contained within my unique structure without diminishing the tried and tested ideals of this craft, even when that common ground felt as narrow as a tight rope.
All I need to do now is trim off field-specific nuance in later chapters that can go into blog posts, programs, and future trade books, another big relief. The issues don't need to be all fleshed out in this book, even though it's a professional memoir.
To all writers out there. Your tireless spirit has kept me going, revision after revision, rewrite after rewrite. None of these hours of work were in vain. They were my greatest gift to myself and my story. I hope I can give back by saying that all of your hard work, whether or not it makes it in the book or not, similarly has not been in vain and is informing your work, writing, programs, personal life, and professional growth and foundation.
Keep plugging along. Your final, expertly curated product will not only be your biggest accomplishment, but it will touch the hearts of those it is meant to reach.
I am Loraine Van Tuyl, PhD, CHT, holistic psychologist, spiritual teacher, depth hypnosis practitioner, and shamanic healer from the Sacred Healing Well, and am devoted to helping wisdom keepers, seekers, healers, and teachers dive deep into their self-healing potential and carve out their sacred dream paths in service of their dynamic whole self and the greater good.