I Yam What I Yam
My 2017 New Year’s resolution was to start identifying myself by what I am, as opposed to what I do. It’s not like I go around introducing myself: “Hi, I’m J. L. Armstrong. I’m a writer.” First of all (spoiler alert), it’s a nom de plume, so I would just sound stupid or crazy, or I’d get arrested because my driver’s license does not match. For now, I teach. I would have been, in the not too distant past, excited to introduce myself as a teacher. “What do you do?” “Oh! I’m a teacher!” But, I have experienced the hellscape that is education (forty percent of teachers in my state leave the field within five years) and have decided that a teacher is not what I am. Until May 26th, it’s what I do.
OK, fine. I’m a writer. Now what? Well, it’s time to act like a writer. However, starting out in the writing biz is a lot like wading into the dating pool. First, you have to craft your image. You have to establish yourself on social media (@thejlarmstrong) and, preferably, start a blog (check). These, ostensibly, will — like a well-crafted OK Cupid profile — make people like you. They should at least like and share your posts. The more followers (clicks/winks/pokes) you have, the more publishers or agents will sit up and take notice.
Second, you have to decide what to write. I have been looking into contests and publications and trying to decide what avenues to pursue. In dating, you have to decide what aspects to put forward. Be yourself, yes, but what part of myself? While I am writing a fantasy novel and will likely do that and maybe some dystopian lit for the foreseeable future, I don’t have to restrict myself. Just because I don’t hike on a regular basis, doesn’t mean going on a hike for a date wouldn’t be fun. But it is setting expectations. Don’t expect much hiking in the future. Or literary fiction.
Finally, you sit and wait. And scroll. That perfect contest will come around. That publication will get back to you. That guy you liked and messaged 10 times will message you back. It will all be worth it. Don’t worry. Be patient.
No, really, it will be OK because I am a writer. I’m also a pretty kickass lady. Perhaps someday, I’ll get a date. Perhaps someday, I’ll get a publisher. But it won’t change who I am. It will just be more fun.