Some things are just true.
I once heard a comedian say, “Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.” I don’t remember who. It was the opening line of his routine, and the rest was all about some things just being true, none of it PC. It was funny because it’s kind of true. It’s actually true that some things are just true. Did that make sense? Probably not. Coffee.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with the “Writer Life”. It’s been clashing with the rest of my life, and, let’s face it, it’s pretty thankless ( read…profitless). It’s not a glamorous lifestyle, and we all can’t be a J.K., you know.
So, I’ve decided it’s time to define the Writer Life for me. We all know the image that’s painted in every episode of Murder, She Wrote. The inspiration when you sit down at your desk, that beatific smile of happiness as Jessica finishes a novel, that coffee beside the laptop. Yeah….
That’s all crap.
I write that sentence smiling stiffly. It’s total BS. The Writing Life is self-imposed stress and deadlines. It’s typing madly into a plotting app in the doctor’s office (while growling at auto-correct the whole time). It’s a million things we don’t really want to do besides writing books.
The real question is… Is it worth it?
I think it is. Someday, I’ll be very glad that I’ve finished all these books, and maybe, one day, I’ll feel like a grown up about that. I’ve fallen prey to the idea that writing isn’t responsible, adult work. The voice in my head whispers that this is just a hobby. That’s part of the real Writer Life, too.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to accept the reality, much as you have to accept the reality of parenting when your child turns hormonal and yells at you because… hair brush! Writing is like everything else in life.
How do we go on?
It is a tragedy. I agree with you.
I so much wanted to be that writer sitting there at a desk in beatific commune with the muse. I wanted to be the writer who doesn’t drop F bombs at her edit, then her laptop, then her sandwich. The graceful image of the “author” will likely haunt me to my grave, and that has to be okay. We aren’t all Jessica Fletcher, but the stories still want to come out, amiright?
If I were going to make a suggestion, ( I won’t be that pretentious), but, if I were, I’d say we all had to define who we are in our Writer Life. I, for instance, am a graceless, swearing, snarky coffee inhaler who occasionally throws out a story or two. If you were to give me a visual representation it might look like a typing troll or this adorable hissing cat. That’s a very good representation.
The point of this rambling is that we don’t always get just what we want. Writers know this better than anyone, but we can define what’s good for us and what we’re good for. We can be happy writers, but we have to stop defining authorship by monetary success, and start defining success by authorship.
Don’t believe me? Just ask all the authors who died penniless and unknown (until some movie studio found the book after their death and gave it a rewrite. That has to feel awesome.) The very fact that you’ve finished a book and nobody hates it is a success of its own. Later on, when somebody hates it, you can define success as having haters. That’s okay, too. However your definition changes, It will change with your experience, and that’s the key.
Listen to the U.S. Navy. This isn’t a job. It’s an adventure. Don’t treat writing like a job. That was my mistake. This can’t be a job for all of us. As soon as I thought of it as a job, I lost something. I lost my sense of adventure. Writing became more colorless, a task to be completed.
You’re going to encounter writers who define success differently. They define it as the money they’re making, the books they sell, the rebellion they foment among romance establishment. They’ll define it differently than you. ALL of that is okay, as long as, and this is important. AS long as, the writing is still worth doing for you.
The moment you let the world have your joy. You’re done.