In February 2015, a UK YouGov poll highlighted that “author” was the dream job for 60% of the British population. Published author is my dream job too, and I’d long imagined what it would be like to say “author” when asked for my occupation. However, like many other things in life, it hasn’t turned out quite as I expected.
As I’ve always had a vivid imagination, making things up for a living is ideal. Moreover, in what other job would eavesdropping in shops and on public transport classify as research?
Since I’m a romance writer, there are a host of other benefits too.
Although I’m happily married, there are book boyfriends galore. There are also fascinating research topics to pursue. In the past week alone, I’ve Googled ice hockey injuries, read a fun book about hockey mothers, and spent several happy hours checking out pictures of sexy hockey players. All to create believable characters for readers to fall in love with!
Then there’s working from home in my pyjamas if I choose, and a flexible schedule that allows me to balance work and family life more easily than the corporate 9-5 I left behind.
Despite all these pluses, I wasn’t prepared for what it would actually be like to say “I’m an author.”
While many people are interested and supportive, I doubt teachers, architects or bus drivers get the same reaction to their jobs as I’ve had in recent months to mine.
There was the bank customer service officer who said I didn’t “look like one of those artsy-fartsy types.” Was that a compliment or criticism? What are authors supposed to look like?
Others have asked if I’ve written anything they’ve heard of. Not yet, although I live (and write) in hope.
Still others comment on the riches perceived to accrue to anyone who, with a dash of magic fairy dust, secures a book contract. Sadly, most authors, myself included, don’t earn anything close to what Nora Roberts, Dan Brown or Stephen King do.
Finally, there are the off-the-wall questions.
- Do I put people I know in my books? Absolutely not! Each character is unique, although socks worn by someone I once worked with sowed the seed for a character trait.
- Do I write sex scenes from personal experience? Did I mention my vivid imagination?
- Will I change genres so the person can read what I write? (Because they “only” read literary fiction, thrillers, Christian fiction, mysteries, historical fiction). No! I love what I write and have many more stories to tell.
Many people want to write a book. Some actually do. And the lucky ones, like me, become working writers who get to live the dream.
I’m Jen Gilroy and I’m an author. As for those sex scenes? I doubt Stephen King gets asked if he writes about killing people from personal experience.