HERDING BUTTERFLIES: DEFINING A WRITER’S WORK

August 15, 2021 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , with 1 and 0
Home > Columns > The Write Life by Rebecca Forster > HERDING BUTTERFLIES: DEFINING A WRITER’S WORK


“I wish I had your job. All you do is sit around and make up stories all day.”

“I’ve got a great story for you. You write it and I’ll split the royalties.”

 If writers had a dollar for every time someone told them they were on easy street they would be — well—on easy street. But we know the work is hard, that dedication is a prerequisite, and thick skin is the uniform we wear everyday. So if you ever need to explain the life of a writer, here’s how you can break it down.

STEP ONE: Herd Butterflies

Of the millions of words in the world, a writer must choose 100,000, and fit them together like puzzle pieces to create a seamless story. There is no wand to wave so that they magically fall in place. Nor is there a spell to cast that will take the vague, foggy images on the periphery of writer’s consciousness, give them form and function, and create memorable characters. Likewise a plot and story can be elusive. Initially these ideas are as solid as quicksand. One wrong step and the writer sinks. If we’re not willing to do this painstaking work to corral our butterflies, sculpt our characters, and create a solid plot foundation then we are not writers.

STEP TWO: Sit

Writers sit for hours, and days, and weeks on end. Months go by and still we sit. A writer may mentally plot or test dialogue while seeing to real life, but the hard work is accomplished by putting our butts in the chair while everyone else plays. If we give into temptation and join the party, we are not writers.

STEP THREE: Sand, Paint, and Patch

When the typing is done, the editing begins. Editing is an ugly, depressing, miserable process. Shave a word here, add ten there. Delete pages, chapters, chuck the whole book and start again. A writer prints out hard copy, marks it up until the pages look bloody with edits. Then a real pro inputs the edits and starts all over again. If we aren’t our own best critic, one willing to make things right for our readers, we are not real writers.

So when someone says they fancy your job or waxes romantic about a writer’s life, smile. Admit that writing is a wonderful profession. Insist that you would never dream of taking their amazing idea even though you’re tempted. Assure them that they deserve the literary glory. Do offer to look at their manuscript when it’s finished. While you’re waiting, you can start herding butterflies for your next blockbuster.

Author Bio
Author Bio
She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
  • OH HORRORS! Storytelling that goes bump in the night
    “I wish I had your job. All you do is sit around and make up stories all day.” “I’ve got a great story for you. You write it and I’ll split the royalties.”  If writers had a dollar for every time someone told them they were on easy street they would be — well—on easy […]
  • BACK TO SCHOOL: The Write Way to Learn your Craft

    I never thought I’d be a novelist, much less a USA Today and Amazon bestseller. I wish I could say that I was an overnight success, but it’s taken years to hone my skills because I am self-taught.

    @Rebecca_Forster

  • HERDING BUTTERFLIES: DEFINING A WRITER’S WORK
    “I wish I had your job. All you do is sit around and make up stories all day.” “I’ve got a great story for you. You write it and I’ll split the royalties.”  If writers had a dollar for every time someone told them they were on easy street they would be — well—on easy […]
  • The Only Number That Counts
    “I wish I had your job. All you do is sit around and make up stories all day.” “I’ve got a great story for you. You write it and I’ll split the royalties.”  If writers had a dollar for every time someone told them they were on easy street they would be — well—on easy […]
  • My Book Friends

    This week I had lunch with two of my oldest writing buddies – the ever fabulous Mindy Neff and equally fabulous Sandy Chvostal.

BEFORE HER EYES

Buy now!
BEFORE HER EYES

BEYOND MALICE

Buy now!
BEYOND MALICE

CHARACTER WITNESS

Buy now!
CHARACTER WITNESS

DARK WITNESS

Buy now!
DARK WITNESS

DREAMS: The 90s Collection

Buy now!
DREAMS: The 90s Collection

EXPERT WITNESS

Buy now!
EXPERT WITNESS

EYEWITNESS

Buy now!
EYEWITNESS

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Buy now!
FOREIGN RELATIONS

FORGOTTEN WITNESS

Buy now!
FORGOTTEN WITNESS

HOSTILE WITNESS

Buy now!
HOSTILE WITNESS
INTIMATE RELATIONS

KEEPING COUNSEL

Buy now!
KEEPING COUNSEL
LOST WITNESS: A Josie Bates Thriller

PRIVILEGED WITNESS

Buy now!
PRIVILEGED WITNESS

SEASONS: The 90s Collection

Buy now!
SEASONS: The 90s Collection

SECRET RELATIONS

Buy now!
SECRET RELATIONS

SEVERED RELATIONS

Buy now!
SEVERED RELATIONS

SILENT WITNESS

Buy now!
SILENT WITNESS
THE RECKLESS ONES: The 90s Collection
THE BAILEY DEVLIN TRILOGY: BOOK 1-3 (The Bailey Devlin Series)
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN’S HOROSCOPE CAME TRUE
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN’S SHIP CAME IN
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN PICKED UP A PENNY

VANITIES: The 90s Collection

Buy now!
VANITIES: The 90s Collection

VOWS: The 90s Collection

Buy now!
VOWS: The 90s Collection

THE MENTOR

Buy now!
THE MENTOR

Sign up for my spam-free newsletter and get Hostile Witness and the Spotlight Novella, Hannah’s Diary, FREE. Or get Hostile Witness FREE at your favorite online bookstore.

LET’S CONNECT!

Subscribe and get my 2-book starter library FREE:

Follow me on Bookbub!

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Amazon

Visit me at: http://rebeccaforster.com/

If you like a cop with a brogue and an attitude try the new Finn O’Brien Thrillers! Severed Relations is FREE!

 

×
She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
  • Veronica Jorge says:

    Hi Rebecca, Loved your article and the analogy of herding butterflies. They’re certainly not easily caught.

  • Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM

    >