So, You Want to Be a Writer?

When I started blogging, almost six years ago, I was already a writer. I wrote short stories in elementary school, started working on my first novel at the end of high school, wrote for the Algonquin Times, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Low Down to Hull and Back News.

In Korea, I wrote a novel and sent it to various Canadian publishing houses, all who turned me down with simple form letters that told me that the book was not what they were looking for, but thanked me for my submission.

They were polite ways of telling me to fuck off.

One such form letter came to me with its margins filled with a hand-written message. Whoever had read my book wanted to add a personal touch. She said (I assumed it was a "she," judging by the handwriting) that she really enjoyed the story and was moved by the main character. "You're a good writer," the note read, "don't ever stop writing."

Whoever that person is, her (or his) words touched me and have remained with me for almost 15 years. They are words that every writer wants to hear.

When I talk to people about writing, I occasionally hear them say, "I wanted to be a writer. I'm a good story teller."

"Then write," I say. "What's stopping you?"

Anyone can come up with an excuse for not writing. The biggest excuse I hear is that people don't have the time.

Make the time, folks. Make the time to do the things about which you are most passionate.

The other night, after I had written a few pages of the latest chapter of my novel, Gyeosunim, and realized I needed a break, I started reading my Twitter feed and latched onto an online chat that had just begun. The topic was "blogging," so I thought I would join the discussion. I still had a pint to finish (I was writing from Mill Street, my usual Tuesday-evening haunt) and would be about 20 minutes.

The first question that was posed by the host was about the type of content that is mainly posted on a blog. Here, on The Brown Knowser, my topics have varied. I mainly use this blog to share thoughts and feelings, to occasionally rant, but also to share my passion for story telling. I always try to make my post have some sort of message. 

Sometimes, I share photos, let those photos tell the story. I use photos to engage my Ottawa-based readers, to test their knowledge of this great city.

I share music. I share beer. I share good food and interesting events.

I guess, in a nutshell, The Brown Knowser is where I share things that interest me, where I hope that you'll be interested too.

I also shared with the discussion group that I have four blogs of which three are currently maintained. I've had a total of six blogs: my first blog, Brownfoot Journal, where my intent was to share family events with friends and relatives. But as more readers began to follow me, I was less inclined to share my private life, and so that blog ended after more than three years.

I had a blog that I used for political rants, but it didn't last long. I felt that I always sounded angry (I wasn't; I was simply cynical) and that half the time, I didn't think I knew what the hell I was talking about.

I have my Songsaengnim blog, where I used to post the rough chapters of my novel. While nothing has changed much, since the book was published and I removed all but the first chapter, I still refer to it so that people can find out where they can purchase my book.

I'm doing the same thing for the sequel: a new blog with rough drafts of the chapters. Chapter 8 is almost ready.

The Twitter chat covered lots of topics, from where people get ideas for content, whether writers have a set time in which they write, how much content does a writer aim to create, to what obstacles are faced in writing.

For myself, I try to write five days a week for The Brown Knowser, and for the most part, I'm pretty consistent. But I've told myself that if I don't have any ideas, I shouldn't beat myself up and force myself to write. It makes for bad posts. It's best to relax, think, and brainstorm for another time. I keep a note on my smartphone, where I keep ideas for future posts.

At Beer O'Clock, I try to review a beer when the beer moves me, but lately I've been more interested in simply enjoying the beer without feeling that I have to talk about it. I'll share soon, though. Lately, my novel has been taking up the time that I often used to write my beer reviews.

Which takes me to my novel. I have two days where I find time to squeeze in writing. I have about an hour and a half on Sunday mornings and three to four hours on Tuesday evenings, when I'm at Mill Street. It's not a lot of time in which to write, but I've been diligent about using that time.

But it comes down to this: I'm about to pass on sage advice for all of you who ever thought you'd want to be a writer.

Make the time, and keep writing. Write for yourself. Write what makes you happy.

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