I’m speaking to my local writing group next week about life as a traditionally published author and moving from writing as a hobby to a job.
As such, I’ve been thinking about what being an author means and the best and hardest things about this career.
Building a writing career requires not only talent but grit, flexibility, perseverance and luck. As someone who’s only been published since 2017, I’m a “baby author” compared to those who’ve been navigating the career author life for ten, fifteen, twenty years or more.
Things to love about the author life
I get to make things up and spend much of my time in imaginary worlds.
I learn about interesting people, places and historical periods.
Along with writing, reading is my job.
Being an author also gives me reasons to eavesdrop on public conversations and ask unusual questions.
It means I’m asked weird questions too but that’s a whole other post.
Author life challenges
Although many people say “author” is their dream job, like any other occupation it has challenges too.
There are physical ones like RSI and tennis elbow from too much keyboard work.
There’s isolation and the mental toll of working alone and inside your own head.
Authors also deal with the same issues as other self-employed people including taxation requirements, administrative paperwork and juggling many tasks beyond actual writing.
But for me, the hardest thing about being an author isn’t any of these. Rather, it’s one that’s more personal.
Living & feeling the job
Just as actors aren’t the characters they play, I’m not the characters in the books I write. However, as I tell their stories I live through those characters, feeling and experiencing what they do.
When I finish a book, I’m emotionally drained and have to put myself together again in the “real world” after leaving my fictional one.
And unlike writing in other professions, the career fiction author has to put personal parts of themselves “out there” and be open and, to some extent vulnerable, in the public realm. That’s not always easy for introverts like me.
Writing is magic and despite challenges, I’m lucky to be able to share stories with lovely readers like you.
So when I speak to that writing group, I’ll talk about the magic of this career which makes the challenges worthwhile.
And since the talk is being held at a library, I may just leave with a few books under my arm.
It’s part of the job, don’t you know?!