Elizabeth de Veer
Why I Write #1
And how did I manage to stay with it for 18 years before getting published?
I was TOTALLY honored and grateful and thrilled to be interviewed by the delightful and charming - and based in Australia, as we discovered when we had technical difficulties connecting - Madison Utley (scroll down to see her) of Book Architecture. I had this honor because I was considered a Client who was Crushin' It. And I'm a client because founder Stuart Horwitz (he's on top of the page) helped me whip this novel into shape. I was, and continue to be, SO GRATEFUL for his wisdom and insight.
It's a great interview! Madison's questions let me talk about how much I love the actual task of ... writing, imagining, revising, wrestling with a vision, re-imagining the vision, and, once again, writing. Write, rinse, re-write, repeat.
At some point in the interview, though, I started to get a little insecure. The direction of the questions started to feel a little like (and this is not the actual question, just what my insecure self did to them), "how did you manage to keep writing when you weren't getting published and finding an agent was hard too?" But I mean ... what else would I have done? Gone to get my MBA? (Oh, my goodness, you have to know me in person to know how funny that is!) Taught fitness classes? (Another deep chortler! I'm killing it tonight, folks.)
But really ... I'm a writer. At the end of the day, writers write.
I'm not going to say I was never discouraged by how tricky the publishing game was. I was. And I'm not going to say that I didn't think about giving up, and maybe collecting model trains ... or learning to dance Flamenco! (Well, that's one thing I would still really like to do.) The thing is, I had read a lot about the finding an agent and publisher process. I knew it was an uphill battle. I also knew it was a long game. If I quit, I knew how the story ended. If I kept working, I had the work, the stories, and the bliss of sitting in coffee shops putting words down in notebooks. Maybe I wasn't an author yet, but I was a writer writing. I was one of the artists in the world. I was living my truth.
Click here to read the whole interview. Interestingly, it does not include Stuart's follow-up thoughts, which were included in the email that featured the article. (I wish they were included, because I thought they were really great!) To summarize, he said that my interview reminded him that writing is separate from publishing. And there are lessons and experiences with each of them. Stuart says, "What writing has done for me exists outside of the experience of being published, and far exceeds it in value."
Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled and delighted to be published. But writing ... that's essential. It's in my DNA. When I was in eighth grade, I had a sweatshirt that said "I'd rather be writing my novel" and it had a picture of a typewriter. I had bought it for myself and I thought it was the coolest thing in the whole world. (I recreated it up above and I love it so much, I am now considering making it into a new sweatshirt.)
One day, I summoned up the courage to wear it to school. The girl who sat across from me in English class looked at it and sneered (though in retrospect, she sneered at everything, so it might just have been something her braces did to her mouth muscles) and she said, "Are you really writing a novel?" And I said, "Well, not right now, but I wish I was."
Whether the next sneer was on purpose or not, we shall likely never know. But I am very proud to be an adult who stayed true to that kid. The shirt didn't say, I'd rather be publishing a novel; the desire and the love are for cultivating a vision and putting words on a page. It's an honor. It's a joy. It's my bliss.