Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
Okay, real talk here.
Do you call yourself a writer? A capital-R-W Real Writer?
Sure, you spend your lunch breaks pecking away at your novel. You’ve got a blog and a Twitter you suspect people read. But is it really safe to label yourself a writer? Should you sell a short story first? Publish a book? Is the mere act of putting pen to paper enough, like how you only have to kill one person to be called a murderer? Or do you need to go to school for it, like a doctor or ninja? If so, fancy-schmancy writing workshops and MFA programs only accept a handful of students every year, leaving most writers out in the cold.
This week, the illustrious Neil Gaiman tweeted an endorsement of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop, a pricey, six-week writing retreat in California:
https://t.co/KxqDo9CY9y is where you apply to go to Clarion. If you want to be a writer, you want to go to Clarion, NEED to go to Clarion.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) January 15, 2016
Whoa, wait a minute! Did he mean “need” in the same sense that we need oxygen to breathe?
The answer is yes, that’s exactly what he meant, and if you don’t have six weeks and a few thousand bucks to spare, there’s no daily word count that will save you, poseur.
This revelation ignited a firestorm among the common rabble. Many writers argued that Famous Author Neil Gaiman had forgotten that not everybody goes to bed with a rock star on top of a pile of money, and that many writers have various personal and financial obstacles preventing them from attending such programs—obstacles that Gaiman works tirelessly from the shadows to keep in place. Tough job market? Rising child-care costs? Debilitating disease? If you knew how much power and influence he and his fellow Real Writers have over your day-to-day lives, you’d never pick up another book again.