Bear with me on this one, it’s a biggie.
We’ve been talking about how to give you guys, our faithful readers, *more* from our shared blog, and there’s been a lot of back and forth about what MNaBC actually is. And the question boiled down to, at one point, ‘are we all really looking for contracts? ‘
My answer to that was no…well…yes. No. I should be. I’m not, but I am. Errr…
And it occurred to me that this, of all the things I’ve been thinking about lately, might actually be something important to share.
What does a contract – or contracts mean to me? (and the ‘me that is a writer’ in all of us)
The writer in me
A contract, for me, would be validation that I’ve not wasted my *life to date* that didn’t involve raising the kids, being a good friend, supporting other writers, learning my way as a bipolar and all of the other personality quirks I have and the myriad of adventures I’ve undergone because of the subtle blend of that list, which isn’t exhaustive.
It would be a reason to actually continue to finish, because I don’t do well with finishing and letting go. I can handle crits, but that’s because I get to go back and polish some more. I can handle writing, because I can always circumlocute the end of the story, or bury it somewhere so that I’m into the next book without noticing.
I’d be able to stop faking my joy at being unpublished, and I might – finally –get over my fear of success. I’m actually scared of being a success. I’m scared of the attention that writing might bring down on my family. I’m scared that people will think I’m just like my characters, and wonder how in the world I come up with such dark stuff without any real world experience. I’m scared I’ll discover that I don’t fit where I thought and be cast adrift again.
A contract, for me, doesn’t equal money or freedom, though I don’t doubt that they would bring some of that. And it’s true – had I chosen to deal with my fears before now, we might not be quite in *this* situation right now. We’d have been in another one, probably just as hard to work through. And I’d never be free – none of my books are singles ;).
The writer in all of us
Contracts, from what I can tell, are validation and a ‘get out of jail’ pass for those of us with people that don’t understand what it is to be a writer. It makes our work as real to others as it is to us, but at the same time, it makes the next one just as hard to get. There’s no such thing as an ‘established’ author until you have a huge following. Sure, you can show your publisher and agent that you can ‘do deadlines’, but no publisher will gamble on you – again – unless your sales have been something to write home about.
Contracts aren’t a badge that we’ve made it – instead, they’re a responsibility to do it right, and not let others in our band – fraternity – down. Because heaven forbid any of us give credence to people like James Frey – contracts ARE NOT tickets to fame.
Contracts aren’t what we are – though we go from writer, to author after publishing. Contracts might afford us that, but they aren’t what bring us there.
Our writing is.
Our writing is what should sustain us – should be what brings us our heart’s desire, and should be the all consuming passion that we thrive on. And even in our darkest times, contracts shouldn’t be our guiding light – writing should be.
So this mama says – ‘contracts are nice, but give me my writing, any day!’
(Orignally posted at Mamaneedsabookcontract)
Kai is a writer, author and avid reader. A mental health advocate, Ludosport athlete and coder. She’s the mother of two young adults, owned by two cats, and lives with her beloved in the Cotswolds.