In the midst of forgetting last year’s mistakes and making this year’s plans, I’ve decided to focus my energy on one thing: taking steps to become a more efficient modern writer. I don’t want to waste my time on silly resolutions–I have the same one as last year anyway, which is to play more chess. 2013 was a big year for me: I earned my master’s degree, moved to New York, and published a handful of stories and articles. Though some personal tragedies kicked my ass at year’s end, one thing remained consistent for me, as it seems it has and always will: I want nothing more than to keep writing in my life.
To achieve this goal of focusing more of my energy on writing contains one given: I have to write consistently and as if my life depends on it. In a way, it does. As one of my biggest sources of joy, writing every day keeps me sane in the midst of a very uncertain time in my life. And if I ever want to truly be a working writer, I have to learn to treat writing as a job. It’s not something I can do when I feel like it. Any other professional doesn’t do her job whenever she feels like it. So yes, the actual writing part of writing comes first.
But writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. I cannot simply create a story and hope the right person finds it. There are many other steps that I (and any other writer in my position) should take. The first step for me was registering my new domain: kaitgetslit.com. I’ve long held this as my blog name and Twitter handle, but today I shelled out the cash to give my blog an official domain name. I realize this is a tiny step, but somehow it feels hugely important to me. I’ve written this blog for almost five years, but today feels like the day I’m saying this is more than a personal experience for me. It’s my link to the world and my way to take control of my writing. What started as a travel log of my study abroad trip to Italy is now a one-step process of getting my writing into new readers’ hands. Thank you Internet.
Another important factor of transforming into the “working writer” is branding. I recently spoke to a friend of mine who loves to paint, but hates the process of pushing his goods. He asked me if I would put on a beret and sell his art for him. Even if we were joking, I still accepted. I think creating your brand is a huge asset to a modern writer. My brand has always been feminist and literary: I want to write, talk, and read about women’s issues and if I can do that through literary fiction, all the better. Consistency is really the key when it comes to your brand. It’s what you write about on your blog, what you write about on other websites, and what you talk about (or who you follow) on Twitter. The writer’s online life should connect from website to website as your passions and activities offline do. I could go on about digital marketing and branding, but I’ll save that for next week.
For now, I’ll close with a bit of good news. A few days before the end of 2013, I received an email from the editor of Vol. 1 Brooklyn informing me that my story “Upstairs,” which had been published on the website in April of last year, was chosen by The Atlantic Cities as a best City Read of 2013. This came as a huge surprise to me, and the affirmation I needed to jumpstart 2014 as my “Year of the Working Writer.” Writers spend so much time doubting themselves and processing rejection after rejection. So when something like this comes along, I had to take it as encouragement. As a writer, I’ve learned to survive on the smallest nourishment. If this honor is all I get to sustain me through 2014, then I’ll ration it as needed. In the meantime, I can’t forget that writing is the true source.