The Easy Stuff
I have been talking with a number of authors lately who have stressed the practical side of establishing a writing career. This page is often dedicated to the impractical, or at least the abstract challenges of navigating the unique territory of your own psyche. But there is much to be said for the practical, linear, algorithmic steps one can take to get from here to there. Everything is always simpler than I imagine. I take that back. First, before I do anything, before I begin a novel, or have a child, or start a magazine, I think it’s going to be easy, but easy in the way learning to pitch, say, looks easy in a learning-to-pitch montage in a baseball movie. Then I begin actually doing whatever it is I want to do and almost immediately feel as if I’ve been duped into solving a problem so complex I risk being strangled by all the tangential tentacles I had not anticipated.
Yet once I am through the hurricane, I see I had made the situation more complicated than it was. A novel needn’t answer every question ever posed by any reader, and children want do well and figure out how to take care of themselves. And all along the way there are practical, sensible, uncomplicated steps one can take that require nothing more than simply doing it.
Establishing a writing career is no different. Although every writer’s road is different and often crooked, no matter who we are or what we believe, we can always join writers organizations, or go to writers conferences, or go to hear writers speak—all of which, merely by placing yourself in a given place at a given time will broaden your exposure and open you to learning about the career you are interested in pursuing.
I started this magazine because I had spent years in isolation and thought it was time to get out and actually meet some other writers. So I went to a meeting of the PNWA and when the subject of a magazine came up, I said, “I can do that.” And here we are. I didn’t go to the meeting thinking, “How can I start a writing magazine?” I went just to get exposure and then one thing followed another. In other words, I did something practical, something requiring no talent, no passion, no training, just a car and directions.