...how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!
Good thing Shakespeare's out of copyright. I might have changed a word there, but I'm sure he meant 'writer', not 'man'. You see, I've been thinking a lot, lately, about the different kinds of work a writer has to do. It's easy to say 'I'm a writer' or 'I want to be a writer,' as if writing is just one thing, something easy, putting words together on a page, stringing words into sentences, building sentences into paragraphs. It's not that simple, though, is it? Let's take a look at some of the roles that make up the writer's portfolio of jobs.
Organiser. This is external and internal. Externally, we have to be well enough organised to make time to write - and then use that time to write. Internally, we have to be able to organise our stories or articles or books or blogposts, to give them a structure which will, in turn, give our readers a useful or powerful experience.
Researcher. So much easier now we have the Internet - I found the quote that started this blogpost in seconds - but still not always easy, and sometimes time-consuming, not to mention distracting. (I was looking up Motown song titles and lyrics yesterday, to make sure I was citing suitable ones for the nightclub scene I was writing, and accidentally spent half an hour listening to samples, reading Motown history and doing other fascinating but unnecessary things.) We also need to research markets for our work, agents and publishers who might help us, ways to publicise what we do.
Imaginer. We need to build and maintain powerful imagining muscles, especially if we are writing fiction, but also if we are writing non-fiction as we need to imagine who will read what we are writing, why will they read it, what are they likely to want from it, and so on.
Juggler. Again, this is external and internal. Externally we need to juggle writing and all the other things in our lives, and internally we need to juggle plots and sub-plots; themes and rhemes; nouns, adjectives and verbs; many things of different shapes and sizes, so it's not easy.
Salesperson. We have to sell our work (or try to), which means presenting it well, writing appropriate covering letters, sending it out and enduring the inevitable rejections, and keeping going even when that seems pointless.
Publicist. Successful writers need to publicise their work, and this can be very difficult, when a writer who may have worked in isolation for years suddenly has to be impressive in all sorts of unfamiliar settings from business meetings to book launches.
So there's six jobs which are part of any writer's work. I'm sure there are more than six, though - any suggestions?
This post is brought to you by the cleverness of Blogger scheduling. I'm away for a mystery long weekend with my Paramour - details next week!