Writers Unite!’s Featured Blog Series!
Writers Unite! is fortunate to have among its members, many bloggers, and essayists who write content about the writing process or their author’s journey or both. We will be posting their articles for your information and enjoyment. Please read and comment, visit the author’s website, blog, or Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and share!
By Enzo Stephens
“Hey, so what do you do to put bread on the table, Enzo?”
“Well Jake, I’m a professional writer.”
“Really? I’ve always wanted to be a writer.”
Jake’s wife, Emily provides this further illumination to Jake’s aspiration. “He has such good ideas…”
Now it’s my turn to act interested. “Well, that’s tremendous, you guys. So what’s stopping you? You guys could go in on it together; like a little family project.”
At this point, there comes an onslaught of excuses that, quite literally, feel like an overdose of Novocain being jammed in my carotid with the barrel of a recently-vacated ballpoint pen.
As in, OUCH. Please stop and don’t say another word. But of course, the good Jake and Emily continue their diatribe, and again, for the sake Being a Nice Guy, the Interested Face gets plastered on again while they blather on.
“Good question Enzo. Writing is a huge time investment—”
“—And there’s all the stuff with the kids.”
“Right! Lots going on, Enzo.”
“Do you think I’ve got ‘lots going on’, guys?”
“I just bet you do!” Emily can be inappropriately chipper. Then, “So Enzo, are you published?”
Nice uncomfortable-subject shuffle there, Emily. “You mean, is my work published?”
“Hah! Now THAT’s a writer for ya!”
“Yes, I’ve got some work out there.”
“Really? In your name?”
“No. I use a pen name.”
“Anyone we’d recognize?”
Now there’s just a whole array of snarky answers I could throw in here, but I walk a deeper strategy of snark when this topic comes up in party banter. Here we go…
“Oh yeah, you would.”
“Clearly, Jake, Enzo isn’t comfortable sharing his pen name, are you Enzo?”
“Not really, Emily. I mean, why use a pen name if you’re just gonna dole it out like Halloween candy?”
“Hah! Good point, Enzo. Maybe a better question is, can you recommend any titles for us.”
“Despite my reticence to share my pen name, Jake, I’ll contradict that stance, but only here and now with you fine folk, and that’s under the promise from you guys that you will keep it under your hat. Hmmm, maybe I can get you to sign a Non-Disclosure—”
“Enzo, you’re too much.”
“Right Enzo, our word is gold. You can bank on it.”
“Cool, Emily. Okay, have you ever read ‘Cujo’?”
And now comes the obligatory moment of stunned silence as the realization rolls over their non-poker playing faces. Then, “Jeez, that’s you?”
“You’re…” voice lowered to a whisper, “Stephen King?”
A quick wink in response, and then, “So let’s talk about your desire to write…”
“Well, Mister King, like I said, there’s just no time.”
“First, Jakey-poo, I am NOT Stephen King, so please drop that right away or this conversation is el-don-no. Capisce?”
Sheepish looks. “Sorry, mister K—”
“Oh right. Enzo.”
“So really, guys, telling me you don’t have enough time to actually sit down to write is, well you know, an excuse.” I held my forefinger up in front of their faces to halt their silly defensive protests while I pressed on.
“The truth of the matter is deeper than what you just told me. For instance, everyone has kids. I know of a single mom with three little ones that can crank out a one-hundred-thousand word masterpiece in three months. What do you think her time-suck is like?”
So now they’re looking away a bit and they look a little uncomfortable like they’ve just been scolded. I sucked in a deep breath and climbed right up on my soapbox. “Writing can be a hobby, sure, and I suspect that’s where you’re at when you said that you always wanted to be a writer, Jake.
“But if you want to put out really great material, well, like anything else, it requires a butt-load of work. And even more practice! Do you feel me?”
Honestly, after all that I’m pretty surprised that the court that I’m holding is still populated with these two. They nod in unison, giving me license to press on.
“So let’s get real here, guys and explore this a bit. Is it the work that’s stopping you from chasing this dream you have of being a writer?”
Jake hemmed and hawed a bit, glancing at his oddly small feet. “Honestly, Enzo, it’s getting started that’s the problem for me, I think.”
“Okay, that’s good, Jake. You’ve drilled down a bit. Let’s go further. What’s stopping you from getting started?”
‘Uh… I suppose it’s just sitting down and, you know, actually doing it.”
I nodded, and I totally GOT Jakey. We were on to something here. My nodding encouraged Jake to press on. “It’s like I know what I want to write. But I don’t know how to start.”
“And he really does tell wonderful stories.” Yeah, thanks for that, Emily.
“I’m sure Jake does. But I’d like to share something with you guys to help you move forward with your dream. Good?”
“Try taking on some small side gigs that will actually pay you for your writing. When you know that you’re going to get paid BEFORE you begin writing, well, that’s all the motivation you’ll need to hot-wire your head.”
My Old Fashioned suddenly became bone dry and that sucked, so it was time to move on, but before finding the nearest watering hole, I had one more tidbit to drop on these hopeful folk. “Nothing teaches the craft of Writing like getting paid for your Writing. Each gig you take on teaches you… just phenomenal amounts of improvement! So if you want to get going here, go build an account on a side-hustle platform and start bidding on small jobs.
“I’ll tell you now, the pay will suck. But you’re not doing it to earn a living; not yet anyway. Think of it as On the Job Training; you’re getting paid to learn.
“One more thing; I have a pretty significant volume of published novels doing the Exact. Same. Thing. It’s called ‘Ghost Writing’, and I cannot emphasize the benefits of doing this to new and younger writers enough!”
Mic Drop. Time for a refill!
Soon: More Ghostwriting
Enzo Stephens has a serious case of professional ADHD. He’s a professional writer with over 60 novels ghosted and several under his own name. He’s an active blogger and has fallen in love with knocking out short stories.
Enzo is a retired Marine and a martial arts instructor for longer than most people have been alive, and his cats, wife, and kids merely tolerate his nonsense.
For more of Enzo’s writing visit him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011 or check out the monthly archives here on the WU! blog.
( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)