Thursday, February 24, 2011

This Writing Life

At times, I'm intrigued by the ideas people have about the life of a writer. Intrigued and amazed. I'd love to take a moment to dispel any myths, assumptions and/or rumors about the profession. Be warned, I have very little patience or tolerance for some of these "misconceptions."

1) Just because I'm a published author doesn't mean anyone can be. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard, "You're published? Oh, maybe I should try that too," I'd own an Aston Martin. It takes talent, a knack for and knowledge of the written word and a LOT of hard work. Not everyone can sing. Not everyone can cook. And not everyone can write.

2) Being a writer isn't code for "I watch soaps, eat bonbons and lounge in my pj's all day" or "I wear a black beret, drink the equivalent of four pots of coffee per day and hang out in trendy coffee shops." Some people do that, but writers who pull in a paycheck do not. At least not every day. I go to work in yoga clothes. I do occasionally watch TV while writing, and have found Dog the Bounty Hunter is great for background noise (though maybe I shouldn't admit that in print). I only eat bonbons if they're gluten free. I prefer tea to coffee and I don't hang out at coffee shops as often as I prefer.

3) There is a difference between the title "writer" and "author." An author has published a book. A writer
has not. Sound nit picky? It absolutely is. Until you become an author. <grins> In all fairness, the term writer can also encompass someone who writes magazine articles, technical publications, etc.

4) I write romance. I do research. Put those two sentences together and they don't mean what you assume. Ahem. Over the years, I've had various reactions, ranging from laughter to suggestions I would gladly scrub from my brain with steel wool. (No I will NOT make you a character in my book. And no, I won't call you Steele. Gross). I research professions. I research places. I research human emotion and motivation. Get your mind out of the gutter. Sex happens. If you have children, I assume you know this. It's also an integral, beautiful part of a monogamous relationship. If you disagree, you're a prude and/or a hypocrite. Possibly both.

5) Along those same lines, don't turn up your nose at romance, or any genre for that matter. I know more literary snobs than I care to admit. If you can acknowledge you are one, get help. No one likes a literary snob. Trust me. If we're talking profit, romance holds one of the largest shares of commercial fiction. Money speaks, my friends. Whether romance is your cup of tea or the furthest thing from it, keep your nasty comments to yourself. I don't read certain authors. But I'm also open-minded enough to recognize I can't disparage an entire genre based on one or a few authors.

6) Writing is not a "fun little hobby." This one baffles me. Hobby? The definition of hobby is "an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation." I receive a paycheck. Thus for me, it's an occupation.

7) Writing is my full-time job. Yes, I have the luxury of writing at any time of the day. That also means I have to be diligent and dedicated about setting aside time to write. Those who are self-employed know how difficult it is (especially if you have children still at home). I've heard little digs about my "fun little hobby" and "how nice that you can write here and there." Ahem. Some weeks, I put in far more than 40 hours. I also have multiple projects going at once. Don't be insulting or patronizing. That goes for any profession.

8) This last one is important--do not offer your opinion on writing if you are not a writer. I don't care if you've read every classic known to mankind. That does not, I repeat DOES NOT, make you knowledgeable about anything other than what you like to read. I've had a few friends try their hand at writing after I published my first book. Oh, did they have opinions. And arrogance. Not one finished a chapter before deciding they had better things to do. Which really meant it was more difficult than they realized, they were terrible writers, and they weren't mature enough to admit they didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Writing, like any worthwhile occupation, is difficult in the worst of times, and exhilarating in the best. Having the understanding of friends and family, regardless of your endeavour, is always appreciated. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to educate you about this particular process. ;-)


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