Other than Ernest Hemingway, who took himself off to run with the bulls in Pamplona and observe wars, it seems that writers have a pretty good gig. Jeez, they can sit around all day in their pjs, they get to fiddle around with stories and make stuff up, there’s no boss cracking the whip. They even have their kitchen, Facebook, Twitter and chocolate stash near them all the time! How is this a bad thing?
OK, it’s not a bad thing. But that’s not all there is to it. First of all, making a living as a writer is… well, nigh on impossible. Not impossible, just the next house over. Second, while I am the first to admit that the writing itself is a blast, even when it’s hard or not going well, there’s more to it than that. Here’s the short list:
- Editing. Editing gives me a migraine. It makes my eyes hurt. It turns my brain to mush. And that’s on the days it’s going well.
- Self discipline. This is not my strong suit. I am not a super disciplined or organized person. One reason I am a “project” person is that I can’t seem to manage to do things day in and day out. So writing a book in 30 days is awesome; writing a book in a year would never happen. This is the same problem I have with laundry, housekeeping, exercise, taking vitamins, and pretty much everything else that requires a daily commitment.
- Avoiding distractions. This is somewhat tied to self discipline, but not completely. That’s because, unless you live alone and in a vacuum like Sandra Bullock’s character in The Net, people think you aren’t doing anything because you’re “just” writing. (This is especially true if you are not bringing in millions to the family budget – I suspect JK Rowling and EL James get out of grocery shopping from time to time.) So your non-driving teen needs you to run him somewhere. Your husband urgently needs something ironed for an important meeting. You realize that you really would love to have some scones with your tea later that afternoon, so you jump up to whip some up, realize you need to go to the store, and four hours later you have scones and nothing written.
- Self doubt. This happens to any artist of any kind. When you are putting yourself out there in such a personal way, you can’t help but wonder if the work is good enough, if people will accept or reject you, and if you made any huge, glaring errors that the world will realize when you didn’t.
I am currently in a non-writing phase of being a writer (which is sort of inconvenient since I’m participating in the August Camp NaNoWriMo and am supposed to write 50,000 words by August 30). This is because my husband, also a writer (of brilliant political satire), is in the final stages before publication of his own book. Now, you might think that would be his problem, but the fact of the matter is (and he’d be the first to admit this) he is a terrible self-editor. He knows what he meant to say, and he doesn’t see typos, missing words, missing punctuation, bad grammar or any of that. He sees what he meant to say.
A lot of people are like this, so that’s nothing bad. It just means a lot of work for me. In addition, the book he is about to publish is non-linear. It’s a collection of 33 chapters which do not follow one another, interspersed with one-liners, interspersed with quotes from famous people. So the organizing, collating, and formatting has been a nightmare. Add to that the fact that he used a separate Word document for each chapter, and 35 separate word documents for the one-liners, and you’ve got a logistical sticky wicket. (Note to anyone out there writing anything with multiple sections or chapters: SCRIVENER.) I’ve spent 23 of the last 51 hours on his book, and still have the quotes to insert when he’s done. (cue fingers drumming on the laptop)
After that, which is today, I have to finish the final final edit of my upcoming Christian historical romance, Undaunted Love. I have one week to get the edit done, get the copyright handled, write the back cover blurb (which I am so bad at that my daughter despairs), and try to find an example of a romance cover I actually like. The latter being the most difficult.
And then there’s NaNo. I have just about 30,000 words done on my YA dystopian fantasy, so I only need 20,000 more to “win.” That won’t finish the novel, which I originally estimated at 60,000 – but 60k isn’t going to finish it, either, so at this point, with all that’s gone on in August (in addition to the above, this month my daughter had surgery, I had minor surgery, my husband had laser eye surgery, and my daughter went back to college….), I feel like I’ll be thrilled to “win” even if I don’t finish. (Although I will keep writing after August 30 and finish, so the first draft is done.)
Doesn’t this all seem glamorous?? To be fair, I am writing this in my pajamas.