Guest blogger Sunny Frazier asks, “Am I a writer?”

Sunny Frazier

Sunny Frazier

Today I’m delighted to welcome Sunny Frazier as my first guest blogger. Sunny and I have been getting acquainted on the CrimeSpace site, and she answered my open invitation by sending me the post below. I liked it immediately, and I also liked the way we bypassed the round of e-mails discussing what I might want her to blog about. I’ve read an excerpt from her mystery on her website, www.sunnyfrazier.com, and I was instantly intrigued.

I’ll be featuring guest bloggers on Fridays. In next Monday’s post, I’ll discuss what I’m looking for and how you too can become a guest on Musings Mysterioso.

SUNNY’S BIOGRAPHY

Sunny Frazier has been publishing both fiction and nonfiction since 1972. She is a Navy veteran, earned a BA in Journalism, and wrote for a newspaper before joining the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department. During her 17 year career in law enforcement, she spent 11 years working with an undercover narcotics team.

Frazier Sunny Where Angels Fear coverFrazier is also an amateur astrologer. She has been involved in astrology for 35 years. Her short mystery fiction has won over 30 awards and trophies, as well as publication in mystery magazines and law enforcement magazines. Her first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, FOOLS RUSH IN, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association. WHERE ANGELS FEAR came out in April, 2009. Frazier is a member of the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime, as well as the Public Safety Writers Association. She currently resides in Lemoore, CA.

Sunny is offering free horoscopes. Contact sunny69@comcast.net for details.

AM I A WRITER?

By Sunny Frazier

Last week at my writing group, one of the aspiring authors had a bit of a breakdown. She suffered from what all writers eventually go through. Her faith in her abilities was shaken, the struggle to get her story on paper seemed overwhelming, and the awful question loomed: Am I really a writer?

This rite of passage is crucial. Writing a book initially seems like fun. The potential novelist thinks, “Oh, I have stories to tell, I have a great imagination, I got an ‘A’ in English class in high school/college. My mother and friends say my emails are quippy, they delight in my ability to tell a good story. I’m a natural.”The reality is the plain white sheet of paper waiting for words. The cursor on the computer becomes a throbbing curse. Minutes tick by as phrases refuse to come. The story percolating in the brain falls short in print.

Wanting to be a writer and being a writer are two distinctively different animals. The wannabe sees the fun, the fulfillment, the praise, the bucks. They have passion and a story to tell and probably some talent.

Real writers expect to get saddle sores from sitting in front of the computer. Their eyes go bad from staring at the screen. Coffee, a shot of brandy and dark chocolate will only keep them functioning for so long. The only exercise they get is in their fingers—if they don’t get carpal tunnel first. They crave distractions, any reason to leave the ball and chain of the chair. They don’t want to talk to anyone who can’t empathize with their suffering.

And that, folks, is the crux of the problem. Does the world care if there is one more writer or one more book on the shelf? Not really. Is writing worth sacrificing the real people in our lives in favor of the fictional people we create? Are the rewards worth the effort? Am I really up to the task?

Writing is a choice. Nobody is standing behind us with a gun to our heads telling us to publish or perish. Writing is more than just imagination and plot. Good writing includes craft, strong word choices, constant editing, the illusive element called “voice,” and a thick skin. Writing is a gamble. Even the best novels often don’t see publication. Writing is about going the distance, not running a sprint. Writing is not graded, except by sales. Writing demands sacrifices, and each aspiring novelist has to ask, “What am I willing to give up to reach my goal?”

My writing group gave the aspiring author empathy and a tissue to wipe away tears and years of frustration. Her life is full of overwhelming obstacles, yet I know she’ll show up next Friday night ready for more criticism. Last week she had a breakdown–next week, perhaps a breakthrough.

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Holli Castillo
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 01:29:09

    Sunny, love the blog. Interesting you should post this topic right now. This week, my husband said something interesting, unusual, I know, but at least I was listening. Anyway, he said, after watching me spend forever in front of the computer typing away for days, “You really love writing, don’t you?” He didn’t say it like it was a bad thing, but like he finally realized it was something I actually considered fun, and not a chore. And I thought, now he gets what it means for me to be a writer. Eerily on point with your thoughts– maybe you should add psychic to your resume next to astrologist!

    Holli Castillo
    Gumbo Justice

    Reply

    • julielomoe
      Aug 16, 2009 @ 10:43:58

      Hi Holli –
      Thanks for visiting and posting here. I hope you’ll visit again. I like the sound of “Gumbo Justice” – is it your book title?

      Reply

      • Holli Castillo
        Aug 20, 2009 @ 21:36:34

        Sorry I didn’t reply sooner but I’m scatter brained these days- Gumbo Justice is the name of my novel. It’s a mystery thriller about a New Orleans prosecutor who is being stalked by a serial killer.

        I really enjoy your site, and loved Sunny’s post. She always has something interesting to say! When I come with something interesting enough, I’ll definitely try to send something for the guest blog.

        P.S. I just saw the little box to check to notify me of follow up comments via email. Wish I would have noticed it earlier!

      • julielomoe
        Aug 22, 2009 @ 11:15:04

        Thanks for your comment, Holli, and thanks for reminding me of the follow up comments box. There’s lots of administrative/dashboard stuff I still have to improve on my blog, but I keep procrastinating, since the geek tech stuff is not my forte.

  2. Sarah Simas
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 03:41:24

    Hi Sunny and Julie,

    Wonderful site and great post! Nothing like going to the mattresses new writer style. Newbies need to be prepared – Learn your industry and love the craft.

    Hanging with the ‘big kids’ can be hard knocks. Ask me, I’m a newbie and I know! lol

    Smile!,
    Sarah Simas
    The Lovestruck Novice
    Passion and Patter

    Reply

  3. Jane Kennedy Sutton
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 08:48:16

    Even after being published, I find myself still dealing with that question! Some days the answer is a emphatic yes and other days I’m not so sure I really want to make those sacrifices.

    Reply

  4. Marilyn Meredith
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 09:59:12

    Great post, Sunny.

    To be a writer one must put their fanny on the chair in front of the computer screen and write. While writing, they should think about how they are going to promote because when sending queries off to most publishers, they’ll be asked how they plan to market.

    Once the book is done, it needs to be edited and polished before sending it off. While the queries are going the rounds, start the next book.

    Squeeze in life when you can.

    Marilyn
    http://fictionforyou.com

    Reply

  5. Karen Walker
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 10:19:14

    I’m with Jane. I say I’m a writer, but the self-doubt creeps in every so often. But hey, a writer is someone who writes, right? Getting published is a whole other issue.
    Karen

    Reply

  6. Lou Allin
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 18:12:08

    Very true, Sunny. We’re in it for more than the money. To Karen, even getting published doesn’t end the self-doubts. Because then there are sales! And with small presses, where there’s no money for publicity and only two thousand books may be printed, getting the word out is the hardest part.
    I suggest that in your bio, should you become published, that you include your e-mail with an invitation for the reader to write (‘welcomes mail” sort of line). Many gloomy days I’ve been cheered by a message out of the ether telling me how much someone enjoyed my book.

    Reply

    • julielomoe
      Aug 16, 2009 @ 10:49:31

      Good advice, Lou. I’ll be reissuing my mystery Eldercide with a new title, Evening Falls Early, this fall, and you reminded me to take a look at my Afterword. I did invite people to visit my website and get in touch through my contact info there. But my website is woefully outdated – I’ll have to fix that and include this blog address as well.

      Hope you’ll stop by again. To all Sunny’s friends who posted here, thanks for visiting, and I hope you’ll come back!

      Reply

  7. julielomoe
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 19:47:10

    Hi Jane and Karen,
    I agree – this question never really goes away, at least for me. That’s why Sunny’s post resonated with me when I first read it.

    Sunny, thanks for being my first guest blogger. I hope there’ll be many more. In my introduction above, I said I’d post Monday about guest blogging. But I realized I have more questions than answers, so I’ll pose some of those questions then.

    Reply

  8. Sunny Frazier
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 15:52:37

    I’m honored to be the first to post on your site. Thanks for the generous invite. I plan to put the word out and expand your reader base. You are doing a service for all of us in cyberland trying to make our voices heard.

    Reply

    • julielomoe
      Aug 22, 2009 @ 11:18:24

      Thanks, Sunny – you’re doing a service too! I really like this new way of getting our voices heard – the playing field is gradually leveling out.

      Reply

  9. Kathleen Ryan
    Aug 21, 2009 @ 08:31:02

    Thanks, Julie, for accepting Sunny’s blog post, it is terrific — just like Sunny and her writing. Self-doubt loves to flourish at times, I can understand the feelings of the aspiring author in Sunny’s writing group; I’m there myself many times. I retired from the police department to pursue writing full time, and to spend more time with my family, after having survived breast cancer. One must have patience to be a writer, diligence and tough skin.
    One thing that bothers me and compounds the issue is when friends or family assume I “do nothing” since I retired, yet I’m continually writing, revising, contributing to a blog and social networks, querying agents, interviewing people, reading, making weekly trips to the library, listening to audiobooks as I clean and cook, working on pieces to submit to contests, attend authors readings and book signings, attend a monthly writing group, attend Sisters-in-Crime meetings throughout the year (it’s more than an hour commute to get there), attend writers conferences, yet I’m retired and don’t do anything. Let’s not even think about laundry, food shopping, cooking, cleaning, and raising two kids, finding “quality” time with my husband, and my time spent as a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and serving on the Crime Stoppers board, and having frequent doctor visits throughout the year, hoping I don’t get a recurrence (sorry about the rant!).
    I’m sure Sunny’s right about the author in her group…she’ll have a breakthrough and leave the self-doubt behind.

    Kathy Ryan
    http://www.womenofmystery.net

    Reply

    • julielomoe
      Aug 22, 2009 @ 11:12:08

      Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for the comments – I agree, retirement can be frenetic! Hope you’ll stop by again. I’ll check out your website when I get a chance. Unfortunately your reply came into my spam folder, so I’m late approving it. Hope you’ll post again!

      Reply

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