So You Wanna Be a Writer — Part 1 By Adam Rocke
So you wanna be a writer. There’s a truckload to be said on this topic, but first let’s get all our ducks in a row and determine exactly what type of writer you want to be. By that I mean, do you want to write solely for shits 'n giggles, or is it your intent to fund your entire existence (clothes on your back, food in your fridge, roof over your head, adult beverages on the weekends) by selling your literary ramblings?
If it’s the former, cool beans. Have a blast!
However, if it’s the latter, well, that’s a totally different cauldron of spells, and it begets yet another question: For reals?
Seriously, have you thought this decision through? Perhaps you bumped your head or, if your skull is impact free, maybe you’re in need of a mental health evaluation. Listen to what I’m saying—a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Please understand, I’m not trying to pick a fight. I’m simply trying to gauge if your heart is really in it. Maybe you just woke up on a strange ship in the middle of the Bering Sea with no memory of who you are, clutching a waterproof satchel filled with mucho dinero in various foreign currencies, a loaded 9mm handgun, a half-full bottle of Dominica rum, and passports from four different countries, for four different identities, but all with the same photo—yours!
Oh wait. Nevermind. That’s already been done.
You see, when it comes to writing as a career, most wannabe scribes either had a burning desire to be a writer since they were a few days older than a zygote, or they ultimately discovered they weren’t qualified to do anything else.
That’s how it was for me—on both fronts.
Now assuming I haven’t dissuaded you from following your literary career path, allow me to prepare you. There will definitely be tears in your future.
No, not from you, silly—from your parents!
Considering all they spent on your post-secondary education, telling them you want to be a writer will undoubtedly lead to a display of waterworks the likes of which you’ve never before witnessed—Where did we go wrong?!—and the tears are a best-case scenario. In all likelihood you’ve sealed their fate—they will need a licensed therapist for many years to come, not to mention a few bottles (or cases) of top shelf hooch.
But once all the family drama has been dealt with (or at least responsibly navigated), there’s absolutely nothing standing in your way of becoming the world’s next great literary titan.
Granted, it would help to have some modicum of talent. At least a little bit. Trust me, working writers will at some point in their career actually need to possess bona fide literary skills. You don’t have to be Shakespeare. Or Michael Crichton. Or J. K. Rowling. Or Stephen King. Or… I think you get the picture. You simply have to be able to weave a tale that other people will want to read.
And pay you for it!
Yeah, that’s the kicker.
After all, many people the world over love to read, and they will happily feast their eyes on any manner of printed or digital content you put in front of them. The key is getting those very same folks to open their wallets and remunerate the creator of that content. Or, better yet, getting someone else to invest their time and money in your words in the hopes that they can get other people to pay for it. Otherwise, anything written that isn’t sold will only have value as a drink coaster, birdcage liner or doorstop.
Harsh to be sure, but then again, so is the literary profession. You don’t receive accolades (or money!) for material you almost sold, or almost got published. You know the saying: Horseshoes and hand grenades? The good news is that there is an optimistic side to that pessimistic equation. You see, even if you don’t sell your writing in the immediacy, hopefully your work is at least memorable enough (in a good way) in that it allows you to forge relationships with those in a position to someday buy your work. Thus, as you hone your craft—assuming you haven’t quit and decided to pursue becoming an international assassin instead—you can always revisit the material that didn’t secure a deal on its first go-round and, fingers crossed, find a way to make it commercially viable.
Either that or simply realize that it stinks to high heaven, whereby you start fresh with a new concept that ultimately wows whomever you send it to, resulting in a big, fat check and household name status.
At least, that’s the plan.
So in the coming installments of this blog, we’ll cover everything—from an average day in the life of a writer, to the peaks and valleys of the profession, to the common (and not so common) mistakes many writers tend to make when starting out, to some of my more interesting adventures during my two-plus decades as a working writer.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be thankful you’re not related to me… But most of all (I hope), you’ll be entertained.
Welcome to the brotherhood (or sisterhood) of writers.
Until we “meet” again, happy writing!
ADAM ROCKE LITERARY BIO
Hailing from Upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains - the famed “Borscht Belt” - Adam grew up at the Nevele Resort & Country Club, remembered for its iconic tower and memorable Steve Carmen “At The Nevele” jingle. Think Dirty Dancing, just twenty years later.
Inspired by Hunter S. Thompson's "gonzo journalism," Adam's unusual skill set combined with adrenaline junkie tendencies enabled him to kick off his literary career penning high octane participatory articles for hip men’s lifestyle publications. Before long, when editors had a wild story idea that could get a journalist maimed or killed, Adam was the go-to guy. Somehow he always came back, alive and intact—with the story!
These participatory adventures resulted in Adam being shot, stabbed, tazed, stun-gunned, maced, sapped, brass knuckled, pepper-sprayed, arm-barred, knee-barred, wedgied, full-nelsoned, bitch-slapped, choked out, knocked out, body-slammed, roundhouse-kicked, and water-boarded long before "enhanced interrogation" was a household term.
Adam has dived for pirate treasure in the Caribbean; dug for ancient artifacts in Europe; hunted for poachers in Africa; played poker with cartel kingpins in Juarez; thrown dice with Mafia enforcers in Brooklyn; scouted for UFOs in the Sonora Desert; raced in both the Baja 1000 and The Gumball Rally; swam with great white sharks sans cage; jumped out of a plane sans parachute; cave-dived sans sanity and, courtesy of a secondary degree in Cryptozoology, taken part in Sasquatch safaris and other “crypto-quests” around the world.
Prior to slinging words, Adam slung cocktails and his mixology adventures yielded six published titles from Surrey Books. Five are illustrated by renowned “kitsch culture” artist, Shag, the most notable being Tiki Drinks.
An experienced poker player, Adam spent years writing for Bluff and Bluff Europe, and has authored two poker books: Pick Up Your Poker Game (Turner Publishing) and Cracked Aces: The Wildest, Craziest, Most Unbelievable TRUE Poker Stories (Motivational Press).
Ayre Force, a graphic novel created as a marketing tool for multimedia mogul Calvin Ayre, featuring artwork by acclaimed illustrator Shawn Martinbrough, was among the hits of the 2008 New York Comic-Con.
Nothing Runs, published by Veloce Press UK, chronicles Adam’s obsession with high-performance automobiles, as well as his hilarious misadventures in the classic & exotic car biz.
The Pirate Handbook: A Rogue’s Guide to Pillage, Plunder, Chaos & Conquest, published by Chronicle Books, was ghostwritten with serial entrepreneur Pat Croce, owner of the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum.