It’s Saturday. The house is quiet. I should be writing. And by that I mean more than just this blog post. LOL
There’s a sense of celebrity that comes with being able to tell people you’re a published author. I can see it in their faces. You’ve done something that they think is special. With that, comes the glamour they believe is part of the job.
This job is anything but glamorous most days.
Most readers…heck, most of my family members…don’t have a clue about the day to day struggles that go with the job. I had someone comment about my “little writing thing” once.
They think all I do is sit here, sip coffee, and type. They don’t see the promotion battle. The days when the words just won’t come. Or the days when any hope of writing more than 3 sentences is gone before I roll out of bed.
They don’t see the two jobs. They don’t see the doctor appointments that need to get scheduled or happen. They don’t see the piles of laundry, sink full of dirty dishes, or the floor that needs to be swept.
Or the emergency trips to the vet because one of the cats tangled with something meaner than they were.
The worst ones for me, really, are when the time is there but the words aren’t. When I could make tons of progress and I can’t even put a single sentence together and have it be okay in my mind.
Writers are full of self doubt and loathing. Almost all of the ones I know have struggled with the idea that our stories aren’t worth the paper they’re on. Even if we get it published and up for sale, we think there’s room for improvement.
Why? There’s a couple reasons, I think.
One, we have zero confidence in ourselves. That could be related to our upbringing. I know a lot of mine can be traced back to my childhood.
Two, we’re perfectionists. There’s always going to be the urge to tweak a sentence, revise a paragraph. Rewrite a chapter. Honestly, this is where a lot of authors falter. To them, the book is never good enough to submit to an agent or publisher.
Three, we’ve bought into the celebrity ideal. We remember how we idolized our favorite authors, the thrill of seeing them in person. Maybe getting a signed book. And then we feel like we’re total hacks because it hasn’t happened to us. We’re not able to give up day jobs and write all day 2 months after our book goes up for sale. Or we got a huge advance, but then read the fine print and realize we really can’t spend that for years. Just in case it doesn’t sell well.
Being a writer isn’t easy. It’s forcing ourselves to sit down and write whenever we can. It’s grabbing whatever’s handy at work to jot down plot points between meetings or customers. It’s writing dialogue while folding the laundry and hoping we remember it. It’s putting our stories, our characters, on the back burner while we’re being parents or spouses.
It’s fighting our very selves to prioritize the story and not feeling guilty about taking that time away from the never ending list of other stuff that we ‘should’ be doing.
If you want that ideal in your head. Where you’re able to pay your bills with your royalties, afford to buy the new car with cash, or send your kids to college and not have them saddled with student loans. Where you don’t need 2, 3 jobs to support yourself and others. It’s going to take years of work.
But if you’re only in this for the big library and shelves full of awards, you’re going to have a rude awakening. Because that’s not going to happen from your book sales overnight. The award ceremony invites aren’t going to flood your inbox. Not unless you do the work. The promoting, the editing, the writing. Even letting go of your story.
One thought on “Let’s get real”
Hard work is essential, I agree, especially in freelancing! And it’s true that some may belittle the effort that comes with it. But. If you turn the coin around and remember how you admired your favourite authors, just remember that you may well have an impact on people as well. And if that then is a good influence in someone’s life, I think it’s worth all hassle. And apart from it–why do we write? It’s a calling, no? Callings are never easy. But they’re what makes our world a little more colourful, a little more thoughtful, a little more full.