While reading through the slush pile, I see all kinds of tidbits tucked into that little bio paragraph at the end of each query letter. Most of them are not so good, and I think the reason is people aren't sure if they are a writer or not. To help clear up some of the confusion, I've prepared a short quiz to help you gain clarity on your position as a writer. Jot down your answers and calculate your points at the end.
1. While sitting in your favorite writing chair, you start coughing. You grab your writing beverage of choice and soothe your throat with a big sip of:
2. While out with your friends, someone asks for a pen. You:
a. Do not have a pen.
b. Offer them their choice of gel glide or ball point without even needing to look in your purse.
c. Offer to go to your car where you know there are at least a half-dozen pens.
d. Dig around in your bag and come up with three pens. One is empty, another is missing the cap, and one has been chewed to within an inch of its life.
3. You are finally ready to send your work out to agents. Your query letter is:
a. Critiqued to within an inch of its life and after sixteen drafts is finally ready to go.
b. As good as it’s going to get.
c. Um…what exactly is a query letter again?
d. Chock full of everything an agent could ever want to know about you including your t-shirt size in case they want to send you a welcome to the agency present.
4. It’s the middle of the night and you just had the most amazing idea for a story ever. You:
a. Jump out of bed and rush to the bathroom to jot it down in the notebook you keep there for exactly this moment.
b. Roll over and fall back asleep.
c. Grab your phone and call your CP bestie to tell her all about it.
d. Slump out of bed, open your laptop and type out a note you aren’t positive you’ll understand in the morning.
5. During a review of your calendar you realize that your kid’s band concert is on the same night as your monthly critique meeting. You decide to:
a. Go to the concert and slide in for the last few minutes of the meeting.
b. Skip the concert, but make your spouse tape it so you can revel in all the off-key glory later.
c. Order a singing telegram for the meeting to let your CPs know how much you wish you could be there.
d. Send off your critique notes and tell everyone you’ll see them next month.
|Time for the results!|
Tally up your points. I assume you've read Cosmo and know how this works:
1. a(4), b(3), c(2), d(1)
2. a(1), b(4), c(2), d(3)
3. a(3), b(2), c(1), d(4)
4. a(3), b(1), c(4), d(2)
5. a(2), b(1), c(4), d(3)
If you scored:
5-9: Maybe you’re just starting out. Maybe you’re just writing for fun. Maybe you think the rest of us need to chill way out. You enjoy what you’re doing, but you aren’t willing to let it change your life. Know what? That’s totally okay, you’re still a writer.
10-14: You love a good coffee shop chapter session as much as the next guy, but writing isn’t all there is to life. When inspiration strikes, just try to keep you away from the keyboard. When summer strikes, it’s another story. You could be the snow bird of writers, but that still makes you a writer.
15-19: Critique partners, beta readers, workshop classes and conference pitch sessions. You’ve got this writing thing down. You might have a few books under your belt or you're still waiting on “the call”. Either way, nothing can keep you from telling the next fifty or so amazing ideas you’ve got brewing around in that magic brain of yours. Publishing credits or not, you’re a writer.
20: You’ve just finished your 876th manuscript and, while it’s hard to believe, it’s even better than the previous 875. Bathing is for losers unless you’ve got a dry erase board hanging in your shower so you can keep writing while you lather, rinse, repeat. When it comes to writing you’ve been there, done that, and have the heinous drinking problem to prove it. Write on writer!
I hope you get the picture. If not, allow me to spell it out. It doesn't matter what your goals are or if you write with a gold plated fountain pen. If you enjoy writing and make the time to do it, You Are a Writer. Now own it.