Every writer needs perseverance. And maybe a monkey.

image It’s Friday, and that can only mean ONE THING! No, the other thing. The one after being payday. Ok, and the weekend, but before it being the day they show reruns of Family Ties on the Oxygen Channel…

No, I’m not talking about changing the cat box. Or cleaning the lint trap in your dryer…

Fine. I can tell by your blank expressions we have lost all momentum here, so I’ll just tell you Friday is that special day each week when I share my Nickel’s Worth on Writing!

No, that was really it, I promise. In fact, Publisher’s Weekly has called my NWOW “…writing tips worth every nickel, at least in Mexico…” and what The Master of Horror® Stephen King has heralded as “…insights every writer should know. Preferably by the third grade.”

But enough accolades!

As many of you know, I’ve been working on a project collecting the last two years of NWOW posts into an eBook that is part writing tips, part writer’s survival guide. What some of you may not know is that I have the technological IQ of a chimp. Ok, ALL of you knew that — and you’re probably right: I shouldn’t assume all chimpanzees are incapable of creating an eBook. Regardless, the process has reminded me of how important perseverance is as a writer and how, as writers, having a chimpanzee capable of tearing apart a laptop with its bare hands could be really therapeutic.

I’ve come to see my eBook-creating experience as a smaller version of the trials and tribulations every writer goes through in the quest for publication (Except hopefully with less cursing.) Every writer begins with a manuscript: Pages with thousands of words, each specifically chosen through a painstaking process aimed at creating imagery, setting a mood and conveying information methodically doled out to establish the perfect pace. Does it make you any less a writer if it doesn’t get published?

Of course not.

That’s like saying you aren’t a singer if you only reach for those high notes while in the shower. It doesn’t matter what you do to hit those high notes, and I’m pretty sure the rest of would rather not know. The important thing is that you don’t need a recording contract to be someone who sings, any more than you need a published book to consider yourself a writer. If you spend time on a regular basis writing your thoughts down while searching for just the right words — whether in the form of a novel or personal observations — you’re a writer.

It’s that simple.

Although if you spend hours in the shower reaching for those high notes, it starts to get complicated.

That said, it’s the hope of every writer to share their words with others. While blogging has streamlined this process and allowed more people than ever to make their words accessible to the world, the printed word — virtually in an eBook or physically on actual paper — still holds a special significance. Admittedly, seeing the title of my first book in the Dewey Decimal System at the library was a thrill. It didn’t matter that I’d probably never be able to find it again by actually using the Dewey Decimal System, or that my identifier on the spine of the book is “HICKS” in all-caps.

Apparently, there are a lot of HICKS around here.
Apparently, there are a lot of HICKS around here.

To become an overnight sensation has taken me 15 years.

And counting, actually.

That’s because, aside from you and readers of my newspaper column, I remain virtually unknown in most parts of the world and to a select group of state law enforcement agencies (which I’d like to keep that way, thanks.)

Did having a book published make me more of a writer? Did it open the door to fame? Fortune? A table at Waffle House without a reservation? Yes! But only to that last one. Although I’m pretty sure you only need a reservation there if you ask for gluten free waffles or meatless sausage. Then there is a three-hour wait.

My point is, published or unpublished, overnight success or one-night wonder (I’d rather not get into that), a writer writes because it is part of who they are. It’s as second nature and as necessary as breathing and eating, although I should warn you that inhaling while eating a powdered donut can be dangerous. Did the fact that I once dropped face-first onto a table at Big Dog Donuts while choking on powdered sugar keep my from having another donut? No way. That’s because as writers we persevere. We brush off the proverbial powdered sugar dust and take another bite.

So as I keep cursing at diligently working on the eBook collection of my Nickel’s Worth on Writing, rest assured I will — like all of you — rely on my perseverance as a writer until it is complete.

Unless a monkey eats my donut.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

36 thoughts on “Every writer needs perseverance. And maybe a monkey.”

  1. OK, according to some of the parameters here, I am a ‘complicated writer’. I write while singing in the shower. Lalalalalalaaaaaa…

    This is great to see Ned – the reality of what seems like ‘instant’ successes, and the willingness to state one is a writer regardless of formal or paid publishing. I have listened in on a lot of debate about that, (kind of hard for me not to speak normally, but I didn’t feel particularly confident about my opinion then). After some time, I came to the same conclusion as yours: …”a writer writes because it is part of who they are. It’s as second nature and necessary as breathing and eating”. Love that statement the most, but you know, the rest was pretty good too. 😉

    1. Hahaha! I thought that was you! The walls at the Holiday Inn are pretty thin. Nice climactic falsetto, by the way — story-wise, I mean 😉

      And thanks, Robyn. I knew you had a thing for monkeys…

      1. I don’t know how many times I have had to tell that Robert, The Hook bellman to keep you two away from my hotel room walls!!

        If I have a nickel for every time you guys do that, I’d be paying myself to write!

  2. I have never once sang in the shower, so I am definitely not a singer, though I haven’t written anything on paper while in the shower, my mind does write.

    Dewey Decimal System – wow, that’s old, but yes I remember it well too. 🙂

  3. I’ve written 5.5 books, had 3 published, and I blog pretty much daily…yet I still have a hard time referring to myself as a writer. Weird, huh?

    Btw, you’re right about the fame & fortune thing: even when my series was reprinted in China and Italy, its not like I could afford to go shopping for a Porsche. Or even a porch. Or even a nice set of lawn chairs.

    I consider writing a vital part of my life, but I’m glad I don’t have to count on it to pay my bills.

  4. I’ve been spotted before. Probably not the same team as you were, Ned. I’m still in Michigan hiding from my German wife and her lawyers. Well………….maybe not trying hard enough, anymore, but I did avoid several expensive trans-oceanic DHL document mailings and pleadings and I saved a lot by translating my court proceedings myself. I only made one mistake (that they found) and in ten years I can have a credit card again……………….

  5. I always look forward to Fridays and your imparted wisdom. Thanks for the gentle reminder that we don’t have to have a dewey decimel spot to be considered a writer (though, I think it’s really cool that you do!)
    I need my memory jogged here though. When I saw your title, I actually thought you were going down a different path. It was an article I read on writing that stated you needed to “add monkeys” in order to make the story interesting and the reader care. I can’t remember who wrote it or what it said. Which also leads me to one of my favorite sayings, “Not my circus, not my monkeys” Maybe I should stop the day drinking?
    Actually, let’s just pretend that I said the clever things Robin did.
    OMG..is it 5:00 yet?

    1. Hahahahahaha! That is one of the most hilariously incoherent bits of writing I’ve read since proofing my post earlier this morning!

      And I have to agree, monkeys make everything better. Imagine Planet of the Apes without monkeys? BooooRING!

        1. That’s what Ross says, and I believe him. Although I regularly find mis-spellings in his posts with words like “labour,” “harbour,” “flour” etc.

          And my best wishes Michelle & Co. for a terrific weekend as well.

    2. Oh for crying out loud, I laughed so hard. I don’t know what kind of circus you’ve got going over there, but I’ll take a ticket. 🙂

  6. All I want to know is, when will the eBook be for ready sale? Can hardly wait to get my hands/eyes on it so I can have the pleasure of reading it on my tablet, Please tell me it will be available for android as well the iPad? Pretty please!

    1. Hey Tez! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I generally unplug on the weekends for family time. Or catching up on Vampire Diaries. I will definitely let everyone know when the eBook becomes available, and I know for sure it will work on an iPad. Android I’m not sure about.

      As I said, with my technological skills, I’m lucky it’s not chiseled in stone.

  7. I would be fun if you ever become a rich and famous writer, so there could be a show called ‘Keeping up with the Hicksons’…Just make sure that monkey gets to be part of the cast.

No one is watching, I swear...

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