Why are you waitng to write?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Let me cut to the chase: All published writers were once unpublished writers.

Writers are like babies taking their first steps: You have to do it by yourself, but it helps a whole lot to have someone helping you along the way.

Roughly eight years ago, I began writing my first memoir, America’s Boy. Check that: I actually started it as a novel, as I was too afraid to tell my own story of growing up gay in the Ozarks.

Luckily, I had a muse, an editor, a critic and a believer in the form of my partner, Gary. After reading what I had written, he said: “It sounds nothing like you.” I was crushed. But it was just what I needed to hear.

And so I started over, eventually visiting my family cabin and writing by long hand what would turn out to be the first chapter of America’s Boy while seated on a stoop with my feet in an Ozarks creek.

There was a point – finally, a point – as I sat with my feet in the creek when I was simply writing. Not thinking, writing. Writing as if my life – every breath – depended on it.

And everything simply clicked. My voice, my humor, my tone, my narrative flowed from my soul. I wasn’t writing any longer. I was my writing. The transition from Wade the person to Wade the writer was seamless.

It came because I finally was able to overcome those fears that had shackled me my whole life. I lived my life with shame: I was gay. I was scared. I was overweight. I was wrong. I was bad.And though I wanted to write – and did write – my whole life, questions haunted me like ghosts:

What would people think?

What would my family think?

Did I have the right to tell my story?

What if people hated it? Me?

No one can make it as an author, right? What if I fail?

Am I good enough?

Who the hell do I think I am, calling myself “a writer”?

For a while, this fear paralyzed me again.

I made the decision – without Gary’s knowledge – reach out to a number of authors I admired, whose work I loved. I wasn’t asking for a hand-out, or a connection, I was seeking the simplest of things: A response. A single line. “It’s gonna be OK, kid.” “You can do it, Wade.”

They didn’t even have to mean it. I just needed to know that they had once been like me. Unpublished.

I just needed to know that it was OK to keep going.

That there was no “secret, golden key to the kingdom.”

I got zero responses.

And, that’s when I had my second epiphany. Rather than be paralyzed by my fear, I thought – and this is so not literary – “Screw ‘em!” I believed in my dream, I believed in my writing, I believed I could change the world.

I finished my memoir, I spent months editing it until I was moving around commas, and I did my homework. I spent months writing my query. I spent months researching agents. I spent months believing in myself, even though it seemed no one else – besides Gary and my mom – did.

One week after submitting 15 query letters to agents I admired, I had received seven offers to read my manuscript. Less than a week after that, I had three formal offers of representation.

I believe that if you have a unique voice, discernable talent, an incredible work ethic, amazing professionalism, skin of steel, a heart of equal parts stone, empathy and love, and a feeling that if you aren’t writing, you may just curl up and die – then you can make it as an author.

And that’s why I formed Wade’s Writers, and why I hold writing workshops. I am the guy who got no response, and I decided if I ever had any level of success, I would attempt to help other emerging writers.

I can’t make you write. But I do think I can make you a better writer. More importantly, I can give you tools to succeed. I can give you inspiration and hope. I can help you crush those fears – in life and craft – that are holding you back.

And if we can do it over wine, and in the one of the most inspirational, picturesque settings in America, even better.

If you haven’t looked into my May 12-15 workshop in Saugatuck, Michigan, I urge you to do so right now.

Every published writer was an unpublished writer.

You just have to start. www.wadeswriters.com

Much love,



Blogger Mary Anne said...

First of all, can I tell you how glad I am you are blogging again? Can I??? HI!!!! (sorry, that sort of slipped out.)

You have no idea how much I wish I could be there. Don't think I can make it but I do want to thank you for endless laughs, tears and inspiration since I first started reading you and got to know you via FB and then in Tulsa.

You are cut from a different cloth. You help writers, you make a difference, you make people believe in themselves. Most are above helping others. You are not.

And I REALLY need to make it to one of your workshops. Maybe next year. Love to Gary and you.

April 18, 2011 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger Vickie Stahl said...

Thanks for the kick in the ass. I have written several manuscripts, it's the rewrites that bog me down.
I struggled finding my voice and then I heard yours when I read "At Least in the City". I'm a funny broad and I have a twisted view of life that dabbles in a lot of laughter. So I'm going to send my work to the list of agents and I'm going to finish that project that I think is funny and if all goes according to plan, I'm taking your workshop next year.
Thanks for being a inspiration.

April 19, 2011 at 5:30 AM  
Blogger Donut Shop said...

Thanks for sharing your secret to finding a writer's identity. Reading your prompts made me think, "Duh, why didn't I think of that?"

Good luck on your endeavors. Thank you for sharing such intimate details of your fascinating life with us. I am definitely waiting for your next book.

May 2, 2011 at 7:05 AM  
Blogger robindumler1 said...

Hi! I started reading "It's All Relative" about 3pm 5/28 and now it's 3:33am 5/29 and I have 12 pages left to go. It's a great book, VERY funny and touches on all aspects of human nature at such a person level that I shared your pain and joy. I immensely enjoyed your tales of family dysfunction, adolescent trials and tribulations while following your life path that has been touched with insight and meaning. The chronological setup and the quotes included for each chapter month added to the feel of knowing and experiencing your life course, in the past, present and hopefully the future. I share your love of dogs and was touched by your canine empathy. I will finish the last 12 pages now but do have one question, if possible. On the back cover of the book, who is the lovely blonde who is baking in the kitchen? I will now have to get my hands on your previous writings because your style is magnificent!


Robin Dumler, M.Ed.

May 29, 2011 at 3:08 AM  
Blogger robindumler1 said...

Hello again! My last comment was posted 5/29 after almost completing reading "It's All Relative" and I have now read all of Wade's books. Could you please write some more? Thanks for the good stuff!

Rbin Dumler, Baltimore, MD

June 15, 2011 at 12:58 AM  

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