Guest Blog by Tara Maya
Every once in a while, bopping around the blogosphere, there’s a pleasant little collision of chance and serendipity, and you walk away with a smile. Such it was when I stumbled into Tara’s first installation of her indie series The Unfinished Song (note: “installation” means “be ready for a cliffhanger”). Lovely cover–yes, it matters–intriguing world-building, interesting magic, and great character stakes. She was interested in blogging around, so…here you are! Pretty much everything she says here about the Five Signs…yeah, me too!
Five Signs You’re a Writer
1. You read. A LOT.
You read constantly, or at least did at one point in your life. Some of us had more time to read (for pleasure) when we are kids, but are swamped with work now. For others, literature seemed boring when we were younger, but now has appeal. In my case, I devoured science fiction and fantasy when I was younger, but while I was in grad school most of my reading was non-fiction. Once I graduated, I had time for fiction again. I do still read non-fiction for pleasure and for research.
2. You have been coming up with stories since you were a kid.
You have way more story ideas than you could ever write down. When did you write your first “story”? Okay, maybe it wasn’t much of a story, but when did you start trying? In my case, I made little pretend “books” out of folded paper and scribbles before I could write my ABCs. I wrote my first four complete and illustrated stories in fifth grade and completed my first novel in Jr. High. Granted, they all sucked rocks. But I know I am not unusual in starting out young. Most writers I know began writing early. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they published early, or that those around them recognized their efforts.
3. You have a bunch of manuscripts under your bed.
It’s one thing to write stories in your head. That makes you a storyteller. But not yet a writer. If you’ve actually written down your words, that’s what makes you a writer. Not getting published. Writing is what makes a writer. Getting published, and more to the point, selling copies, is what makes you a paid writer, a professional writer, a writer who can actually eat something other than ramen noodles, and that’s a good thing. But you’ve already started writing without any idea whether you can sell those words or not.
4. You write for love, not for money.
Let’s face it. You know that being a writer is not as lucrative as other jobs, like doctor, lawyer or fast food employee. Screw that. You’re writing anyway. Cruel reality may force you into a day job. It happens. You write anyway. You’re jotting down ideas for your novel between flipping burgers or taking notes on your character in your office cubicle. You care enough to constantly hone your craft. You would write even if your plane crashed on a deserted island. Even if you were locked in a prison on Gamma Beta IV. Even if you had to become an accountant.
5. You write for money, not love.
Nah, this doesn’t really contradict what I just said. It only seems to. Because if you really love writing–or any art–enough, you’ll realize that the only way anyone will let you do it full time is if you can get good enough to earn mullah at the same time. Yeah. By selling your writing. So even though it feels like jabbing steak knives into your eyes, you send out queries, you send out review requests, you–ugh, self-promote. You sell your sweat and tears as if it were vacuum cleaner parts. And on days when the sky is grey and your nose is runny, you feel sorry for yourself because it turns out that writing is a job, and all jobs have moments that suck. The rest of the time, you appreciate–I sure hope you appreciate because otherwise why do this?–that you have the best damn job in the world.
Tara Maya has lived in Africa, Europe and Asia. She’s pounded sorghum with mortar and pestle in a little clay village where the jungle meets the desert, meditated in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas and sailed the Volga river to a secret city that was once the heart of the Soviet space program. This first-hand experience, as well as research into the strange and piquant histories of lost civilizations, inspires her writing. Her terrible housekeeping, however, is entirely the fault of pixies. To find out more about Tara’s SF and fantasy novels, you can visit her blog, Twitter or Facebook.