A Writer’s Life

Ah, to be a writer. If you write romances, it’s satin sheets and bonbons as you sit on your bed and type on your laptop (or dictate to your secretary). For others, it’s a private office, either in your mansion or New York apartment. Editors come to your home to praise your work. A wife or maid or private secretary takes care of the mundane tasks of everyday living and a personal manager sets up your book tours, including spots on morning shows and late night TV.

What a wonderful life.

At least that’s how it’s often portrayed in the movies, on TV, and in books. (In James Michener’s novel THE NOVEL, the author has the editor coming to his house to help him with his book.) And maybe there are a few writers who enjoy the life I described above, but for most writers it’s all a dream.

But it is a dream that gives us hope.

Most writers start by finding a few hours during the day or week to put the stories playing out in their heads on paper or on the computer. Most have to squeeze their writing in with the mundane chores of earning a living, keeping up a house, raising children, and caring for the sick or elderly. Most don’t have a private hideaway to escape to.

The advice to “Write every day,” is good, but not always possible. Even if a writer does find time to write every day, it may not be uninterrupted writing. And once that book (short story or article) is written and polished, few writers have the connections or finances to hire someone to  submit and publicize the finished manuscript. No, once again, it becomes a juggling act of balancing writing time with submitting to agents and/or publishers, along with marketing time.

So why am I going on with these negatives?

  1. Because if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the external factors that take away from your time and ability to write, know you are not alone.
  2. If you want to write a book, but think you don’t have time, know few writers have the time—they make the time.
  3. If you think you need the most up-to-date electronics, a special place to write, or a degree in marketing, know persistence is the most valuable tool you’ll ever possess. Keep at it. Don’t give up.

If you’re not going to make your 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo, don’t feel you’re a failure. No matter how many words you were able to write, you have been writing. Pat yourself on your back.

By the way, this is my fancy desk/work place. It’s in the corner of my bedroom.

Ah, the glamorous life of a writer.

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24 Responses to A Writer’s Life

  1. Lucy Kubash says:

    True, true, true, all of it, especially the persistence being your best tool. I used to think of myself as “Have Typewriter, Will Travel,” because I moved it around the house as needed. Now it’s the laptop. The “office” I actually have today is currently serving double duty as a bedroom for my son. I remember long ago someone saying to me that she pictured a writer as working in a room overlooking the ocean somewhere. Yeah, right. Although I wouldn’t mind one that overlooked Lake Michigan!

  2. Barbara Vortman says:

    For a moment I thought you were writing a fantasy, but then you addressed the reality of a writer’s life. I’m fortunate to have a dedicated writer’s room, and lots of time but that’s no guarantee that I’ll write exquisite, profound stories. Maybe if James Michener’s editor came to my house…

  3. We write to the best of our ability and it does take a lot of time and effort. Then we rewrite. We collect lots of rejections. It keeps us humble. No glamor for most of us, just a lot of hard work. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. We just need to create and keep at it.

  4. I believe a great cavern under the feet of most writers awaits one false move. Demons down their promise promotions, sales, the good life–all at a huge cost. The predators may even have good intentions, but the bottom line is their bottom line of profits. Nevertheless, I keep slipping through the rejection cracks into the seductive pull of help. I’m currently paying $50 an hour for edits on my memoir and engaging Thomas Shore to change my website and brand to a paranormal romance writer (which is seductive in its scope). Wish me luck. I’m trusting all these people after my trip to the beautiful Lake Louise where I felt renewed to aggressively pursue my career.

    • Maris Soule says:

      I do wish you good luck, Rohn, and I envy you your trip to Lake Louise. I was there once, eons ago. It is truly beautiful. As for the demons under my feet, if they are very far down, they’d better have gills. This place isn’t very far above water level.

  5. Gina Conkle says:

    I love this Maris (as I sit in my stretchy pants and coffee-stained sweatshirt, enjoying authorial glamour).

    • Maris Soule says:

      Oh, you’re right, Gina. I forgot to mention how our royalty checks allow us to visit the spa regularly, have our personal trainer show up three times a week (and of course he’s gorgeous), and our shopping trips to Paris to buy the latest fashions. (Dream on, Maris.)

  6. Bonnie Alkema says:

    Always enjoy your blog, Maris! And today, I had to smile as I read it. Telling it like fiction and telling it like it is. I do miss our old writing group. Who would have ever thought we’d communicate in blogs?

    • Maris Soule says:

      I, too, miss that writing group, Bonnie, especially when we were meeting at Betty’s house. Those nights were special. I always loved hearing you read.

  7. This post was fun–in the beginning–and then, as always, we have to get back to work. I began with a manual on a tiny desk in my bedroom, moved to the living/dining room, and then after many years I got a room of my own. That doesn’t mean I write better, but it certainly motivates me, along with the longing to get those stories down on paper. The only writer I know who has a personal assistant is Elizabeth George, so we can dream. Great post.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thank you, Susan. My son says I kicked him out of the house the day he turned 18 so I could have his room for an office. (Not true. I gave him a few months before I took over the room.) Over the next few years I went from that bedroom to an area in our walkout basement, to where I am now…this corner of our bedroom. Downsizing does not fit with the glamour image.

  8. paula says:

    Many days I’m at the computer in my jammies. Hey, if I’m not going anywhere and my mood is “out there,” I figure it’s okay. It doesn’t make for lazy writing; it just ‘looks’ a little lazy. (And I live alone, so no one knows.)
    My worst enemy is an inability to focus when I’m home writing. Sometimes I just pack the laptop in its case, go to a coffee shop and get to work. Then I don’t notice all the things around here that need done, but can wait.
    Thanks for reminding me of Michener’s novel too. I believe it’s the only one of his I’ve read besides “Tales of the South Pacific” and I read it because it was about a writer.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Paula, a lot of people like going to a coffee shop. I’ve thought of trying that, but I’m lazy. It’s so nice to just brew a pot of coffee and wander back into the bedroom. No getting dressed. No worrying that I might be taking up a table too long.

  9. It is the fantasy and I’m ever hopeful to see my novel or novels published. Nowadays, I may never have one that can be held in my hands with the smell of paper, ink and bookbindings to intoxicate my senses.

  10. Clearly whoever came up with those ideas of a writer’s life was not a writer LOL! But you’re right, nice visions to carry us through the tough times.
    Good luck and God’s blessings

    • Maris Soule says:

      Pamela, I have a feeling, back when Michener wrote THE NOVEL an editor would come to his house. (He did place his fictional writer not too far from NYC.) However, times have changed, and only a few writers ever achieve the level Michener did. That said, sometimes it’s fun to dream, even if you know it’s only a dream.

  11. Melissa Keir says:

    What a wonderful post! I would love to have that life. I remember how the big names used to get sent to France for promotions (on the publisher’s dime) but that’s not realistic these days. Now we have to buy our own bonbons. 🙂

    • Maris Soule says:

      Melissa, I’m sure there are still a few writers (the ones who sell hundreds of thousands of books in a week) who get the royal treatment, but probably less than a handful. My bank account clearly shows I’m not one of them.