Whilst these experiences are mine, I suspect that published or not, other writers will recognize bits of themselves in me.
And if you’re a reader, I hope this post gives you some “inside insight” into the author world.
As a writer, I can’t help myself…
From eavesdropping on conversations when I’m out in public. To the chagrin of my long-suffering family, I’ve picked up many story nuggets this way.
I can’t help myself from hearing voices in my head as characters demand I tell their story. And I accept it’s a writer’s definition of “normal” and am mindful not to mention it when I see my doctor for an annual check-up.
I also can’t help myself from drifting off into my own little world. When I worked full-time in an office, I enlivened many dull meetings by multi-tasking—paying attention to the discussion with one part of my brain whilst escaping to an imaginary realm with the other.
I regularly reshaped colleagues into flirtatious debutantes or Regency rakes, a demure governess with a scandalous past, rugged cowboys, or versions of Jane Austen’s bumbling Mr. Collins.
As a writer, I’m vulnerable in a way that only those in other creative professions understand.
When I send my writing out into the world—whether it’s in the comfort of a supportive writing group, on the bigger stage of agent and publisher submissions, or ultimately, a published novel—I’m opening myself up to someone not liking my “book baby” and saying so, in often painful, public detail.
Logically, I know I don’t enjoy every book I read so it’s unlikely mine will be met with universal acclaim. However, logic disappears when I receive negative reviews or yet another stinging manuscript rejection.
I drown my sorrows in ice cream, learn what I can from the feedback and move on because rejections don’t stop post-publication.
As a writer, I can’t stop writing.
Rejections, bad reviews, or when life hits me with the force of a semi-trailer truck—there are times when it’s too painful to write and expose pieces of my heart on the page.
However, I always come back to it eventually, more determined than ever to tell those stories I can’t get out of my head.
As a writer, I’m prey to a peculiar set of anxieties.
Beyond the obvious…will this book ever sell and, if it does, what if everyone hates it and, by extension me…I also experience a suite of other insidious concerns.
If I include sex in my books, will people who know me assume those scenes are based on personal experience? Mine aren’t, but when Tech Guy’s work colleagues discovered he was married to a romance writer, he got teased about “Fifty Shades of Tech Guy.”
I also obsess about margin width, font choice, adverb use, and comma placement to an inordinate degree, along with the worry that if anyone in “authority” ever checked my Internet search history, I’d likely be hauled in for uncomfortable questioning.
As a writer, happiness is finding my tribe(s).
I’m blessed to have a supportive husband and daughter (although when I’m on deadline, they know to not interrupt me unless blood, broken bones, fire or flood are involved), but it’s only other writers who truly “get” the writing life.
My writing BFF’s talk me off the edge when my career seems to have more “downs” than “ups,” and they don’t give up on me, even when I’m tempted to give up on myself.
As a writer, though, happiness is also finding my readers—the ones who truly “get” my writing.
They’re also the people who buy my books when they can, request them at their libraries, write encouraging reviews, chat with me on social media and, over time, become friends.
Although (and like all jobs) the writing life can sometimes be hard and frustrating, it’s still the best job in the world and one I’m blessed to be able to do.
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