Saturday, September 10, 2011

Will the 'Real' Writers Please Raise Your Pens. . .

Hello Fans:

It always amazes me how many people ask me questions about the publishing world, writing itself, creativity, inspiration, money, time, etc., because what I do just comes naturally to me, and although I struggle with certain aspects of my profession, the one area where I have the most fun and never have an issue, is the writing.  I can write, literally for hours, and not care about the time of day, the fact I haven’t taken a break, or anything.  When I’m in Kim’s world, nothing else matters.  And it’s the only world I truly love to reside.
I realize many writers share the same vision and passion as I do and are very serious about his/her work, but. . .hold up!  Wait a minute! ~~ Stop the presses for there’s an imposter in our midst.  That’s the writer who doesn’t have a real plan and uses self-publishing as a way to break in.  Now. . .before some of you reading this post begin to get hot under the collar, you should know by now I’d never lead you down a path without having a finished road to travel upon.
One great thing self-publishing companies have done is create an outlet for writers who have been struggling for years, (like myself), to get into a traditional publishing house.  As some of you know, I had a shoebox full of rejection letters, and trust me, folks, that can really knock the pen out of your hands, literally, but forge ahead I did—with my plan and all, although I had no idea what the hell I was doing or where I was going.  So, I let God take me by the hand and lead me where He felt I was supposed to be.  Simply put, I was led by faith and faith alone.  And I’m happy to say God led me to a great place, and I’m looking forward to bigger and better things to come.  However, self-publishing companies provide a great service to us indie authors and are a necessary tool for our work product—that is for a fee, of course, in most cases.
The trend I’ve been carefully monitoring is how everybody and his son is a writer today.  Why, I’m just flabbergasted at how many people have been bit by the writing bug!  I was not only bit by this bug, but born with its venom, and that’s not a lie.  My Father, Grandfather and Aunt are/were writers.  So yes, words are in my blood and soul, but I am just beside myself with how many people now tell me they are writing books.  In fact, when people learn that I have two books out, or know of me from my ads, they are quick to come to me and say, “I’m writing a book too.”  Immediately I ask, “How long have you been writing?”  And this is where it usually gets sticky and awkward.
I then get that deer-caught-in-the-headlights-stare.  “Oh, I’ve dabbled at it for a little bit,” or I’ll get, “I was just trying to make some extra money,” or, “I’ve always wanted to write, but never had the time or inspiration, and I see you’re doing it, and you’ve encouraged me.”  Actually, folks, that last statement is one of my favorites.  My next question is, “do you plan to make a career out of writing?”  Then the stuttering begins, “well, I-I-I, well hey, if it’s meant to be, or if I can make some money, then yeah, why not!”
Please don’t misunderstand me, readers, so forgive me when I say people like the ones I’ve mentioned above have ruined my profession.  Whether you can write a word or a sentence, if you want to print and sell it, there are companies out there that will gladly take your money, and you are now what they call an accomplished author!  And that folks are where my problems lie.
Accomplished author—Really?  I’ve been writing for thirty-eight years and have never stopped—that’s an accomplishment!  I began writing professionally well over a decade ago—that’s an accomplishment!  I have people from all walks of life who’ve paid me to write professional poems for special events in their lives—that’s an accomplishment!  I’ve taken several creative writing courses to learn from the best of the best authors—that’s an accomplishment!   Before I wrote my novels, my poetry has been published around the globe, that’s a huge accomplishment!  So please excuse me if I appear a little pissed because someone wants to see their words in print and brag and tell people they are a writer, and all of a sudden that puts them in the same class as me and considered an “accomplished author!”  Well, they’re accomplished because they did just that—‘accomplish’ writing words down on paper and paying someone to publish it, but accomplished in the sense of what I do, absolutely not!  Far from it!
To me, that’s like the kid who went to school starting from kindergarten through high school and graduates, and there’s another kid of the same age who messed up in school, fooled around and went to summer school every year, and quits, and then applies for his G.E.D. and it’s considered the equivalent of your twelve or thirteen year Diploma.  Really?  Or, how about the independent running for president who knows he/she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, but siphons the votes from the candidates who are really serious about becoming president.  Think about that people!  How does that make you feel?
My profession, plain and simple, has become a joke in my eyes.  Even famous people are in the writing game now.  If you think it, your words can be a book.  Even if it’s something no one even wants to know about, if you write it, a publishing company will publish it.  Something that I hold so near and dear to the very core of my soul and being has been turned into an anyone-who-has-the-money-and-wants-to-write-regardless-if-it’s-good-or-not, can-do-so-profession, and it’s sad!
It’s extremely insulting to me.  I work my ass off to present good old-fashioned entertainment through words, while giving my readers some food for thought along the way.  Writing isn’t just a dream I’ve always had, nor is it a talent I just figured out I possess.  I was born to do just what I’m doing and have done it now for thirty-eight, going on thirty-nine years.  Finally, my career is taking me to a place where I can see it’s paying off.  Serious indie authors may make our profession look easy, but there’s nothing easy about it.  The bottom line, there are those indie authors who are really serious about what they do, and then there are those who are only in it because they think there’s some prize lurking behind curtain number one, and let me be the first to tell you, there isn’t!  Granted, some writers get lots of glory, but for most of us, it’s a constant battle no matter how fast you write the pages!  The prize is when one of my readers tells me how much they enjoyed my books I’ve written and can’t wait until the next one comes out.  There’s your prize, folks.  It’s not always about the money!
Simply put, I’m tired of entertainers, and your so-called wanna-be authors putting any ole kind of work product out there just to say they’ve written a book, and they could care less about the profession and their only concern is about the money.  Don’t get me wrong, I get paid for what I do because any job you do you should be paid for it, but for years when I didn’t make one penny, I wrote and gave lots of my material and work away for free because I love the industry.  Even if I never become truly famous like some of my favorite authors, I will never stop doing what I do.  Is it frustrating?  You bet your sweet ass it is.  Do I sometimes want to give up?  Every single day I ask why put me through this hell?  And I’ve told you this before, quitting is never an option, and it damn sure isn’t an option for me.  I’m not what you call a ‘one and done’ type of writer.  I’m not a ‘two and done’ nor a ‘three and done,’ no I’m going to write until God summons me home.  I will never embarrass my profession or myself for the sake of a dollar, or just to get some title that many don’t deserve.

I’m thankful for the fans I have and I appreciate their following.  I enjoy the emails I receive from people who have taken their time out to let me know what they think of my books, whether it’s good comments or not.  It’s appreciated and I will always strive to give them the best I have to offer, but for God’s sake, please do me a huge favor and don’t put your work out in print, if you don’t take this profession seriously.  Please STOP!  Because I just can’t stand to see what I love doing being destroyed by people who are only in it for a hot minute and then on to the next fad.  Let’s face it, if you really want to get to the crux of the matter, many people who are now turning to writing are only doing so because it appears to be the thing to do now, until the next wave of ‘wow, I’m gonna try that’ comes our way.
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/International Poet
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