Let me begin by telling you what this book is not. It is not a how to guide on how to get published, though, I will cover some aspects of that. This is not a how to write a novel book. This is not a publishing guide of any kind. There are lots of books out there covering every aspect of novel writing and publishing. You don’t need another. This book is for you the writer. This is a guide on how to survive once you have made the decision that you are a writer. This is twenty five years of experience I bring to the table. I have survived. I am a writer. That is all that is required to use this manual. A simple declaration. I am a writer for good or bad. There is nothing I can do about it. I am a writer. Ok. Now. Let me tell you how to survive.
Do not expect support. It’s not going to happen. Your parents, your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, mother, brother, father, friend cousin, uncle, teacher, counselor, psychiatrist, will not tell you that your decision to become a writer is a good one. Because being a writer in this society does not fit in. It never has. There was a reason Hemingway and the rest of the left bank crowd left this country in the twenties to find a place more hospitable to the written word. This country does not support the arts. This country supports people who work regular jobs and come home and go bed and get up and do it all over again. This country does not support someone who gets up, has a cup of coffee, and sits down to a computer to…what…write?
Why don’t you get a job?
Do not expect your boss, your coworker, your colleague, to wrap their arms around you and gush, Oh Bob; I’m so glad you are going to be a writer! Not going to happen. Being a writer is like being a Priest. It is not a conscious decision. It is something you realize in your soul and once you know that you are a writer then you are powerless. If you ignore this moment of truth, if you paper it over and go to your job and paddle on and never look back—then this guide is not for you. You can now put this down and move on to money.com because this will be a waste of your time. But if you have come out into the light, had that moment where you know that, this, this, is what I am going to do for the rest of my life. Then I can be of some help.
I would tell you not to broadcast your decision. Keep it to yourself. Quietly get your life in order so that you may start the writer’s life. I started very simply. I just wanted to write five pages a day on my first novel. I made the mistake of telling my parents and was floored when they suggested I get a real job. But, but this is my job! I AM A WRITER. They rolled their eyes. The point is, it is not necessary for you to get the approval of others. You won’t. Being a writer is a private decision, it is a private life. There is nothing to be gained by the admonishments of others or the anointing by others. It simply doesn’t matter. You are a writer. A writer is someone who writes as Hemingway put it. That’s it. It is not predicated on published works.
Here is what I recommend. State this simple sentence and you will be armed for whatever comes at you:
I am going to be a writer whether I am successful at it or not. It is just what I am.
Good. Now you will be alright.
Excerpt from "Hemingway's Attic--The Writers Survival Guide"