by Chris Pepple
As a published author, I am often amused by what some people think of the life of a writer. The funniest comment I remember came a few months ago when someone said, “I wish I had a talent that allowed me to have a job that I didn’t have to work hard at. I envy authors, musicians and painters.” This person assumed that because I had honed my talents as a writer, my career was now like a day in the park…no hard work involved. Same goes for anyone with creativity involved in their careers. It can look to others as if we sit back and let the creative juices flow, then let the world snap up our masterpieces.
I guess my career is like a day in the park…a day camping in a National Park maybe. To make the trip successful for my family, I have to do a lot of work. I research parks before we ever leave home. Then I print maps with detailed directions. I save money for expenses, plan meals and set aside funds for souvenirs. Only then can I begin the hours of packing. Finally, I load the car and add plenty of books and games for the journey. Once we arrive, I unload, set up the tent and begin to prepare meals. Finally, I snap a few pictures to load on Facebook to let the world see what a glorious trip we enjoyed.
That’s how I see my time as a lifelong writer. I planned for this journey before I had books in print. To hone my skills, I spent hours with a pencil and paper trying my hand at biographies, novels, short stories and poetry--searching for my style and my voice. I entered writing contests and valued feedback from writers and editors. (Dedication to my career as a writer means still seeking feedback along this journey.) I have packed my “travel bags” with contest entry forms, writers’ conference brochures, writing seminars and notes filled with suggestions to sharpen my skills.
I write, edit, rewrite and even throw away quite a few pages. I research market trends and audience preferences. I check out other books written on my subject or in my same style. What other short story collections are out there? What Bible studies on this topic will I compete with? How are they priced and marketed?
I finally “set up camp” before my audience, blogging and Tweeting to announce my latest book. I research opportunities to speak about my work, and I e-mail potential book buyers at all hours of the day and night. Only then can I snap my picture with my book cover and put it on an author’s page for friends to see the career I am enjoying.
I don’t mind that my career looks easy to some people. That means I have written well, stayed true to my voice and provided a quality product for my intended audience.
Chris Pepple is a freelance writer with three TCPRA awards for outstanding feature articles. Her articles have appeared in The New Social Worker, Tennessee Conservationist and other state and national publications. She has two published books: Look to See Me: A Collection of Reflections (2006) and Reflections on Suffering: Defining Our Crosses and Letting Go of Pain (2012). For more than four years, she served as the writer on staff at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Emory University. Chris is the mother of two daughters who delight her with their own faith, courage and love.