I have alluded herein to being a writer. That has even brought comments, suggestions, and the idea (freely given by a wonderful person) that I use this blog as a vehicle to push my writing career along. So here is yet another post about writing, which may or may not be more interesting or better written than my previous post, that about having too many blue denim shirts. 🙂
Although I consider myself, now, to be a writer of fiction, that is almost certainly problematic. Other forms of writing, however give me a usable rationale, I believe, to say that I am a professional writer and be at least partially correct. Let’s look at a few of those before we come back to fiction.
I have written thousands of pages of non-fiction in pursuit of business goals, both mine and those of others. I have written reams of technical prose, including software and project documentation, again for myself and others. All of that has been for pay, one way or another. So I suppose that I have proven that I am a competent professional technical writer.
I am a blogger, which is to say (in my case) a short non-fiction writer, at a couple of levels. I have written hundreds of posts for my own blogs, with no thought of success or financial return. That’s not why I wrote them, nor is it why I write the posts here. I do it simply for the joy of expressing myself, of trying to say something about the world.
I also write technical columns in return for money. I’ve been doing that for quite a while, starting at itsbadbusiness.com, continuing on to BestBizWare.com, and now writing in a number of sections of the tech site Blorge.com. I don’t know what the total column count is, but I tend to write about sixty columns per month, so it is probably well over a thousand. I guess, since they are still sending money, I must be a professional blogger, another form of professional writer.
I have written a fair amount of poetry. The less said about that the better. If you wish to know why I feel that is the case, I refer you to: a frawg poem. That is fairly old, but I have not gotten much better. I am distinctly not a professional poet.
I am currently writing a non-fiction book, my first. It is about the tension between a society less than 100 years away from steam power and teams of horses, in stark contrast to a highly technical world in which technical complexity doubles every eighteen months. I have already had agents bite on that book, so I am sure it will sell. It is a salable property and idea, though it will never make anybody a lot of money. I would probably do almost as well to self-publish it.
Now we are back to the fiction. I have written two novels and begun a third. I have had a number of interested agents on the first, which is of the thriller genre, fiction written around an autobiographical core. A number if literary agents like it, but say that it is almost impossible for an unknown author to break in today because the publishing business is in such a state of upheaval. That may be true, or that may be a not unkind way to reject me. I have refused thus far to take advances on a book which may not be immediately publishable.
The second is a work of hard science fiction. It is probably salable, even today, because most of the sci-fi agents are inundated with fantasy. I refuse to write a book in which any plot problem can be solved by the sudden appearance of elves. The scarcity of my sort of work, and a backlog of older readers of Asimov and Niven, give it a good chance. Unfortunately, immediately after I finished it, the initial scientific premise was solved in a slightly different way than I wrote it, so it needs some rewriting.
The third, started but not finished, is also based on a core of fact (my father’s life), the story of three children orphaned during the depression and the later results of the scars of youth. I have, perhaps, another dozen or so treatments that would work as novels. Still, only two have been written to date, and I have not cashed a check for either. That is why I am not sure if I am a professional novelist or not. I have written novels, but have not taken money for them yet. I will leave it up to the reader to come up with a usable definition of “professional novelist” in this context.
Still, by most definitions, I am a professional writer. I probably will add a section of pages to this site for the use of self-promotion, although that is an activity at which I am abysmal. I will even consider putting some of my fiction on line, although I will need to do so only in part, and behind a membership firewall, to keep the agents and publishers happy. I know something about that, since I am also the editor in chief of a Web-zine.
So, I guess I do indeed scribble, all the time and with a certain purpose. As I said in another post, it is what I have always wanted to do. I may need some new territory to explore, though. Any suggestions?