An old college friend (am I old enough to say that?) contacted me this week and asked if I'd answer some interview questions for a student she works with. He evidently has to do a report on a career he's interested, and he wants to be an author. I felt bubbly at the thought of my first ever author QandA, and I wanted to post my answers to his questions here, in case any of you were wondering some of the same things.
* Do you find being an author enjoyable?
I love it. If I don't write every day, I get cranky. Telling stories and sharing my words is really exciting.
* What do you like most about being an author?
When a new idea comes out of nowhere and smacks me in the face, demanding to be written down.
* What do you not like about being an author?
I don't like the submission process. I want people to read my work, but it's really scary to send something to an unknown person, hoping they will like it enough to publish it. I've gotten a lot of rejections, and a few acceptances, and it's hard to stay positive when you know that someone is evaluating your work and they might not like it.
* In your opinion, would an author need to possess any specific traits or qualifications?
Perseverance. You can't give up as an author. You will be rejected, but if you work hard and keep trying, you will be accepted, too. It can be easy to want to give up. Even if writing comes easy to you, it's a hard career. You also have to be able to find your own friends. Writing is lonely work: just you, the computer, and your characters. Being able to maintain a good social life helps you from going crazy when your book isn't going well.
* Do you write several different types of writing (fiction or nonfiction novels, poems, critiques, etc.), or do you only stick to one thing? If you do different types, what is your favorite?
I do. I write poetry, memoir, young adult fantasy and adult fiction. I like to bounce around: it keeps me from getting bored. My favorite genre to write is fiction, particularly YA fantasy: I love creating a world and playing with magic!
* Is this a stressful job for you?
I really only get stressed about my writing when I'm in the submission process. I love the actual writing and editing.
* What inspired you to become an author?
Ever since I was little, I loved to read. I always dreamed of having my words in a book for other people to read. Also, when I was 16, my mom published a book, and I thought it was so cool to see the impact she had.
* How much money could a person in this career bring in yearly? (Ballpark average.)
I've only ever been paid once, for a poem. Poetry doesn't generally pay, but if you write fiction and you get lucky, I think it's possible to make a living as a full time writer.
* Do you have a set schedule to write, or do you simply write when you feel like it?
I try to write in the mornings and afternoons, and I write at least 1000 words a day. Having a goal has helped me discipline myself: when I used to just write whenever I felt like it, months could go by without me writing anything. But now I know that I will write every day. Writing prompts are a really good tool if you want to write every day but don't have any good ideas.
* Anything else you would like to tell (or warn) me about?
Believe in your writing. If you don't believe your work is wonderful and your characters are real, no one else will believe it, either. Writing is work, but it is also play. Don't lose sight of the overall magic you feel when you sit down with an idea in your head and it makes its way onto the page. You won't love every minute of it, but you should love most moments. Also, read. Read anything, but especially read A) books that are like what you want to write, and B) books by other writers about the writing process.