Monday, December 16, 2013

What is the Writer's Life?

When I meet someone new and they ask me what I do my usual answer is that I am a project manager for a global company by day and an author by night. Unfortunately, by the time I get to the part about being an author, half of them have quit listening. The ones who catch that get stars in their eyes and say, "Oh, that must be wonderful." As if I'm a superhero, complete with cape and fire breathing pen.

I don't want to appear rude, but I have to ask, "What do you think a writer's life is like?" Evidently, it's a very romanticized profession. Some people think we spend a few hours writing and reading, and all the things that normal people do, like cleaning, cooking, paying bills - is done by the shoemaker's elves. Or paid services, like those authors that have made a mint.

The truth is we still have "lives," just like everyone else. Not many authors have made a mint, and out of the hundreds of thousands of authors, only a small percentage are making big bucks. The rest of us, if we're lucky, make enough to pay for our reading habits. And most of us have the dreaded "day job" to pay the living bills.

Writing is an art. And you've all heard the stories about "starving artists," right? Many of us would be starving if we didn't have some type of income to supplement to our writing paychecks, which are sparse. Although novelists "might" get an advance, the truth is we do a lot of waiting.  Most advances are small so you can't live on it. Your book won't come out for 18 months, and you won't see royalties until you've earned back your advance, so it could be more months before you ever see another "paycheck." Everyone get's a piece of the pie: the agent, the publisher, the distributor, the bookstore, and we might get 10% of the cover price - that's $2.50 on a $25.00 book, folks. Not a lot.

While we're waiting on the novel to come out, we're furiously writing a new manuscript, that may or may not be picked up by the current novel's publisher. If we're working another job full-time, our writing time is relegated to nights and weekends. And we've got to eat (feed your family), stay healthy with exercise, not to mention cleaning and maintaining your home. If we're lucky, we have family to help out, like a hubby who picks up groceries on his way home from work. Or kids who can run the vacuum and a dust rag around to get the big chunks. That is if we are lucky. Add a little reading time to stimulate the muse, time with the family and writing time is smaller and smaller.

Authors: "I don't know about you, but I've tried getting up before the sun (5:30 AM) and writing for a bit before anyone else is up. It was fun at first. An adventure. I got tons of writing done because I was fresh from sleep or the edge of a dream, BUT...I also found myself running out of gas about 8:30 PM. What I gained on one end of the day I lost on the other. We all have a finite amount of time and energy."

Am I complaining? A little, maybe. That won't stop me from finding time to write and read and muse about interesting characters. It's what we author's do. Our lives revolve around story telling, so... I hope those people who aren't writers will understand that what we do isn't always easy. Blank pages can be intimidating. Deadlines can be stressful. Money can be in short supply.

Then why do we do it? "Because we're writers and it is our life."


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Of course, you are right on target. The writing life is difficult. It's often glamorized, but the truth is only a few authors fortunate enough to make it to the top of the bestseller list really make any money in the profession. The result is that writers need to have day jobs or inherit wealth. I took an early retirement from teaching so that I could finally write full-time. But I wouldn't recommend it for every aspiring author.

Bonnie Tharp said...

It's not an easy choice, but sometimes things choose us. Thanks for the comment.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I retired two months ago from my job as executive director of a social service agency, but whenever I introduced myself to people (outside my professional sphere), I said I was a writer with a day job.

Writing is work, as you pointed, out, and keeping up the life of a writer is also work, as you also pointed out. I'm not sure people who don't write understand how much we have to balance and manage in order to get in even one hour of writing time. If people ask me how I do it, I try to explain, but their eyes glaze over almost immediately. This life isn't for everyone.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Great post and so true!

I don't drop by often but pray every 5 Star author be blessed exceedingly and abundantly!


Irene Bennett Brown said...

My writing life for more than 30 years has been the balancing act you describe. Add to that trying to get others to understand over and over and over that yes, I work at home, but I'm not available for long meaningless phone chats or babysitting your kids!That had to be one of the hardest parts.

Bonnie Tharp said...

It is very hard to explain to non-writers - you are right! And working from home is still "Working." Most of my family and friends understand that now, but it's taken a while...Thanks for the comments.

Patricia Stoltey said...

All true, but I wouldn't give the writing life up for anything else.

Bonnie Tharp said...

I agree wholeheartedly, Patricia.

Mary Fremont Schoenecker said...

Someone commented "it is a balancing act" I agree. It is life between the 3 W's. Write Watch & Wait.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Three W's works...Thanks for the comments.

Catherine Dilts said...

Posts like this help me to whine a little less knowing I'm not the only one balancing a day job and writing. Most people I know who retired to write full time were doing the balancing act for many years before retiring.

BD Tharp said...

Ah, retirement. I can't wait!

cityspideyseo said...

CitySpidey is India's first and definitive platform for hyper local community news, RWA Management Solutions and Account Billing Software for Housing Societies. We also offer residential soceity news of Noida, Dwarka, Indirapuram, Gurgaon and Faridabad. You can place advertisement for your business on city spidey.

Gate Management System
Society Management App
Society Management
rwa Management App
Neighbourhood Management App
Apartment Management App
Apartment Management System
Visitors Management System
Apartment Management Software
Noida News
Gurgaon News
Ghaziabad News
Delhi News
Indirapuram News
Dwarka News

srjwebsolutions said...

We are leading responsive website designing and development company in Noida.
We are offering mobile friendly responsive website designing, website development, e-commerce website, seo service and sem services in Noida.

Responsive Website Designing Company in Noida
Website Designing Company in Noida
SEO Services in Noida
SMO Services in Noida

Genxsoft said... is online medical store pharmacy in laxmi nagar Delhi. You can Order prescription/OTC medicines online.
Cash on Delivery available. Free Home Delivery

Online Pharmacy in Delhi
Buy Online medicine in Delhi
Online Pharmacy in laxmi nagar
Buy Online medicine in laxmi nagar
Onine Medical Store in Delhi
Online Medical store in laxmi nagar
Online medicine store in delhi
online medicine store in laxmi nagar
Purchase Medicine Online
Online Pharmacy India
Online Medical Store

Unknown said...

We are uhe solid first platform for modeling newcomers to achieve there new dreams. The first to train and promote out models at our expense to avoid burden on them. Join the most popular agency if you modelling jobs in Delhi for female freshers, models, students, housewives aiming to start there modeling career. We are top modelling agency in Delhi offering modelling jobs in Delhi for upcoming female freshers or experienced models who want to join lingerie modeling agencies.

modeling agencies in Delhi
modeling agencies
modeling jobs
modeling auditions
model coordinators
modeling jobs in Delhi

Unknown said...

We are specialized in Mechanised cleaning of Underground and Overhead Water Tanks of all sizes. Door Step services across Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad.

Water tank cleaning services in Noida
Water tank cleaning services in Ghaziabad
Water tank cleaning services in Delhi

Drain cleaning services in Noida

Drain cleaning services in Ghaziabad
Drain cleaning services in Delhi
Pipeline Cleaning Service in Noida

Pipeline cleaning services in Ghaziabad
Pipeline cleaning services in Delhi

Tank cleaning services in Noida

Tank cleaning services in Ghaziabad
Tank cleaning services in Delhi