Saturday, June 6, 2009

Am I A Writer?

This is a question every writer asks himself or herself. I’ve asked myself that question many times. But, each time I say, “Yes! I am a writer!!” I started writing when I was 12 years old. I wrote a Hardy Boy novel that was hand written and over 400 pages. I don’t recall ever thinking, I can’t write. I just wrote.

Then I learned that I couldn’t just write the way I wanted to, if I wanted to see publication, there were things I needed to do. So how did I become an author? First, by proclaiming I am one. Second, learn the craft of writing. Third, get serious and don’t look back! If what I’m saying makes you waver, say to yourself I can’t do this, then maybe you aren’t cut out to be a writer or author. But, if you are determined to do this, then you are exactly what the publishing world is looking for and can become an author.

So, by now if you are serious you have proclaimed, I AM A WRITER! Now you need to learn the craft. How do you do that? There are many books that teach you how to write and get published. Start there. Small budget? Use your public library. If they don’t have what you are looking for, another library probably does. Ask your librarian if she can get the book by interlibrary loan for you. Suggested books: On Writing by Steven King, Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, Elements of Writing Fiction: Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card, and How To Write A Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey. Those should get you started J I have these books and many others and I’m still learning, I haven’t “arrived” just yet. I don’t think any author/writer ever can stop learning.

Another way to learn the craft is to join a writer’s group. Most towns have a writer’s group, if yours doesn’t, join an online one. Here are a couple of good ones: and both of these groups are great!

Then there are always conferences that you can attend. Go online and type in writer’s conference or get the 2009 Writer’s market and look under conferences. You might find one close to you and that will cut down on expenses.

If you are a Christian author ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) puts on a great conference, it’s a little pricey but worth the money. If you are a romance author, RWA (Romance Writers of America) put on lots of small conferences and one national conference that are very good also. If you don’t write Christian or romance, then type in whatever genre you write in and see what comes up online. I just mentioned two here but there are many, many, writer’s conferences, so happy hunting!

Now onward to the ‘get serious and don’t look back’ part! I had to work hard, become thick skinned (not everyone likes your work and some will even tell you so) learn to take editing, learn to edit yourself, remember there is always something more to learn about the craft of writing and proclaim I AM A WRITER!! This is what I did and still do today.

How many of you have proclaimed you are a writer? Do you attend writer’s conferences? Also, I’d like to know what writing books you have on your shelves that differ from mine J I’m always looking for a good new study guide.

Thanks for having me! Let’s get chatting. I’m here all day to answer any questions you might have for me.

Rhonda is giving away one of her books to someone who comments on today's blog.

Rhonda Gibson writes for Barbour Publishing and White Rose Press. For more information on Rhonda and her books, please go here:


Anita Mae Draper said...

Good morning and welcome, Rhonda. I've picked up To Trust an Outlaw many times since you handed it to me at the ACFW conference in Minn but it reminds me so much of my own manuscript, An Outlaw for the Lady that I'm afraid to read yours. I read the first few pages the other day and even the outlaws are similar. *sniff* So I put it down again before I read too far. The last thing I want is to mix your book and my book up in my head and then use some of your ideas. (Hmmm - great minds think alike? LOL)

However, I have read your Christmas story, Stuck on You as part of the 'A Connecticut Christmas' anthology. Your story about Foster's Woodland Creatures Ornaments is delightful and it's one of those special stories I've remembered long after the book is closed. I'm wondering, is there a real Morgan Foster in your life? Because you speak of his creatures as if you've held them in your hands...

My daughter's graduation is today, so I'll be popping in and out throughout the day.

So again, welcome. We are so glad you are here. :)

Rhonda Gibson said...

Good Morning Anita! It's great to be here. I'm glad that you still have To Trust An Outlaw, when you finish your book and read Outlaw, I think you will find that the stories aren't the same. I've been told Outlaw reminds people of A Gown Of Spanish Lace by Janette Oke. I hadn't read her book but when I finished Outlaw, I did. They are very similar but not the same.

Thank you for the nice comments on Stuck on You. I love that story! I collect figurines called Charming Tails. So I created ornaments based on my Charming Tails. My daughter gave me one for Christmas, a little mouse with three bows attached to its body. Stuck on You was born. As for Morgan, I think my husband James manages to be a part of all my stories.

DebH said...

hi Rhonda
thanks for coming by today. i think i am at the place where i want to be a writer, but have not made the proclamation that I AM A WRITER... yet.

i'm sort of in the prepping mode. gathering information and getting a feel for things before making that proclamation and moving forward. i have always written stories for myself since i was a child, so i know i have it in me.

of course, right now my proclamation is I'm going to be a mommy (first pregnancy). once the little guy is here though, i plan to take the final step to make the writer proclamation.

i appreciate how you've defined that necessity to make the proclamation and not doubt yourself. i've a couple of writing guides on my bookshelves, but i'm going to check out Orson Scott Card's book. I enjoy his work.

again, thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Rhonda Gibson said...

You're welcome Deb. Having a baby will take a lot of your time, so don't beat yourself up for not writing as much as you want to once the baby is here. Write when you can, enjoy the experience and most importantly CONGRATULATIONS on the new baby!!

Shhhhh, (lol, I know what I'm about to say contridicts what I've already said) don't tell anyone but since you've already been writing... You are a writer.

Silver James said...

Good morning, Rhonda. I like the way you differentiate between being a "writer" and being an "author." I was 13 when I wrote my first novel - a time travel romance "starring" me and my best friend and heroes suspiciously similar to Peter Noone (Herman of Herman's Hermits) and Davy Jones (of the Monkees). Yes. I'm dating myself as most of the young 'uns here will have to Google them. My time travel romance, FAERIE FATE, will be released by The Wild Rose Press in early 2010. *waves from one Garden to the other* And no. FF does not even faintly resemble "The Talisman"--though I may have to revisit the story as a YA entry some day.

Learning the craft is all important to becoming an author, along with dedication, and a very thick hide. Rejection and criticism, both part and parcel of the process, hurt. One has to be secure and strong in the belief in her own abilities to keep trying.

*checks bookshelf* I have Todd A. Stone's NOVELIST'S BOOT CAMP (101 Ways to Take Your Book From Boring to Bestseller), Barbara DeMarco-Barrett's PEN ON FIRE (A Busy Woman's Guide To Igniting The Writer Within), Wendy Burt-Thomas's GUIDE TO QUERY LETTERS, and while it's not a writer's guide per se, I couldn't write without Barbara Ann Kipfer's FLIP DICTIONARY on my desk.

And before Janet shows up and fusses at me, I'm headed back to the galley pages and proofing them.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Rhonda and welcome to the Chicks. Thanks for your wonderful post today.

I've found it is often times difficult to make declarations about the things closet to your heart. But once you give a voice to your purpose the universe works with you to make it happen.

I haven't read many books on the craft of writing so am going to be looking into your suggestions and the suggestions of others.

Thanks for sharing your story with us today.

Rhonda Gibson said...

Hey Silver!! Great to see another Rose here! I love time travel romances. I'll be looking for yours to come out :)

Edna said...

Hi Rhonda nice to read your blog and get your newsletter. May God bless you in your work. do you have a contest that I could enter to win a book? If so please add my name


Rhonda Gibson said...

Good to see you here Karyn :) Are you writing Romance?

Rhonda Gibson said...

Hi Edna,

Glad you asked about a contest. We haven't talked about having a contest but since you brought it up, I'm happy to do it!!!

At the end of the day, if Anita will be so kind, we'll pick a commenter to win a free copy of one of my books :)

Let the games begin!!!

Janet said...

Welcome to the Prairies, Rhonda!

Oops, I AM A WRITER! Meant to start with that.

I've been saying that for years for the simple fact that I believe the Universe listens. Of course, there are days (weeks, months) where self-doubt creep into my mantra and it comes out more like this 'i'm a writer - i guess, maybe, yeah, i am, sorta..." But with my every increasing circle of writer friends, positive feedback, requests for partials - well, those things help a lot with the proclaimation.

Craft books - Barbara DeMarco-Barrett Pen on Fire, Ansen Dibell's Plot, Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird, Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel, and more...

Question - how long had you been writing before you got "The Call"?

And for Silver - get back to work :)

Rhonda Gibson said...

Hi Janet,

I have written 8 books and I still stop sometimes and ask myself, what am I doing? am I really a writer? yeah, I have books out but that might be a fluke. Then God reminds me that I "did" write those books and I "am" a writer. So just keep telling yourself I AM A WRITER and do it with umph!

To answer your question: I have wrote all my life or so it seems. About twelve years ago, I decided to write seriously and then my dad passed away suddenly, I won't lie, I quite writing for a few years. In 2002 I decided to get back to the work that I felt like God wanted me to do. So I went back to writing in 2002, In 2003 Rebecca Germany gave me my first contract at the American Christian Writer's Conference. That was the long answer to your short question :)

Hayley E. Lavik said...

I think I first bestowed on myself the illustrious title of Writer in grade 2 when my teacher put stickers and a little comment on one of my animal fables for my daily journal. Later, like Silver, I wrote my first novels, starring me (or a male version of me once, who was a lot more interesting) and inserting myself into the world of my favourite books (the squirrel books, Anita). My parents had them printed off and bound for me... I wasn't just a Writer, I was an Author!

Later I got a better perspective on the whole thing, but luckily I never got shot down from thinking those woefully transparent little stories were good. I just needed to learn that stories had to go somewhere and preferably not before the final chapter!

As for craft.. I actually don't have any hard and fast craft books around. At the basic level of composition and grammar, I think most of it I picked up through reading, recognizing a wrong or weird sentence. I can correct grammar problems, but darned if I could pick out a gerund if you asked me. Isn't it something to do with -ing starts?

For the nitty gritty of story plotting I've turned to internet resources a bit more, so that everything gets taken with a grain of salt. I've always shied away from books that offer The One True Way to write a story. One I do like, but don't have, is Vogler's The Writer's Journey which approaches storytelling from the classic archetype of the Hero's Journey. I've had it recommended and it looks good, just never actually picked it up.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey everyone, back from the city and Jessie's hair is all 'up'. The hairdresser said it was weird doing 'elegant' when most teenagers today want 'edgey'.

Anyway, I have a couple hrs now before we leave for the grad services and banquet.

Rhonda, I've added the bit about your book giveaway. That's great news.

I showed my MIL your books and said you're blogging today. She read the first page of Outlaw and said she'd like to read it. :)

Rhonda Gibson said...

Hi Hayley,

I don't think there is one true way to write but there are rules to writing that are important to learn, such as point of view, how to develope characters, and much more. If there was one true way to write, we'd all write the same.

Since you all have shared some of your first writing books, I thought I'd share my first two. Dwight V. Swain's, Techniques of the Selling Writer and Creating Characters: How to build story people. Mr. Swain is no longer with us but his books are still valuable tools today.

Rhonda Gibson said...

Thanks Anita. I hope your MIL loves, TO TRUST AN OUTLAW or at least enjoys it :)

Silver James said...

Just dropped back by to catch up on the comments and Rhonda's interesting replies. Please don't put me in the running for the book. Not that I would like to read on or more of them, but I won last week so it's someone else's turn this week. :)

Janet? I'll get back to work after my nap. :P

Silver James said...

Argh! Not that I WOULDN'T like to read the books. (I WOULD like and will one of these days soon!) *headdesk* Okay. All the words are running together now. Definitely time for that nap....

Rhonda Gibson said...

Laughing, I understand what you are trying to say Silver. :) A nap will unscramble those words for you. Happy napping!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Okay, we're all dolled up and off we go...

We'll take pics, too...

Rhonda Gibson said...

Thank you everyone for having me. I'm going to call it a night. I hope I've been able to answer all your questions.

I think Anita will chose a winner of one of my titles and send me their email address. Is that correct Anita?

Thanks again everyone! I've loved being here.

Anita Mae Draper said...

It's just after midnight and I'm back home with the boys. Jessie is still out celebrating - alcohol-free so I don't mind.

Ah Rhonda...nope, your book, you pick - just don't put my name in the hat, please since I already have some of your books. If you pick and email me, I'll make the announcement, though. :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Honorary Prairie Chick Rhonda emailed me and the winner of her book is...



Thanks Rhonda, we had fun, too.

Unknown said...

Good post. The commitment of time and energy that it takes to be a writer isn't something anyone can, or should, embrace lightly. It's a tough lifestyle, no question about it, and I would never encourage anyone to follow it unless they have that insatiable creative itch that just can't be scratched in any other way. Only then will the gains outweigh the sacrifices. And, boy, do they outweigh them!