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Tuesday March 09, 2010
I Am A Writer, Goddamit

In part of my recent attempts to embrace this identity I've created for myself as a Writer/Dreamer, I am in Hong Kong attending my first writers' symposium called Writing Across Cultures at City University. Nothing more unnerving for a so-called writer to step into a room full of writers.

Identity is tricky. About two years ago I declared myself a writer. It was easier than I'd imagined in all my twenty-nine years. My wonderful friend designed me a business card and there it was: Jenn Chan Lyman, Writer. Wow. If I'd known it to be that easy, I'd have gone out and printed business cards when I was five. Owning up to myself being a writer has been much more difficult. It helps when you don't have a job and tell everyone you're writing a novel. But I wonder if I will ever truly consider myself a successful writer until something I've written (that I truly love, i.e. not random magazine articles) is published somewhere other than on A4 paper in my study. So, how to get published?

Over the past week of attending Shanghai Literary Festival events and talking to authors and writers and non-writers alike, it seems that the success of a writer in the publishing world is not solely based on writing, but the entire package of the writer herself (or himself, or itself). You want to be published? Shameless self-promotion is part of the repertoire of helpful skills. Have a business card. Have a website. Go forth and meet the world via Twitter and Facebook. Blog away like a fruitful little blogger. Then, when you have time, write. Okay, no one actually said that, but it feels like it, especially this week where I've scuttled off across the seas to attend symposiums and talks and festival opening parties. Mmm...alcohol. What about that novel of mine? Oh, right. Crap.

So far the key point I've absorbed in all these talks is that I seriously need to work harder. And harder. And harder. Wake up earlier. Develop a schedule. Finish that second draft of Frozen and start on the third. As long as my vpn continues to work, I'll be blogging more than once a week from Shanghai. I've created a public Facebook account for the writer in me. And, oh dear, Twitter. Yesterday I joined the 60 million twitterers of the world. Lord help me. Now, back to the symposium...

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