Monday, April 13, 2009
YOU'RE A WRITER? YOU NEED A JOB!!!
Hopefully everyone who reads this had a wonderful weekend. I am going to begin my monthly blog on the Parker Publishing site by telling you that this entry is being written by Dyanne, Frances and F.D. Davis. I don't know which one will start first though I think it's Dyanne. Basically what you will read will be nothing more than a writer's complaint, so if you're of a mind to, you can stop reading.
When I began writing as a career (JOB) there were many things that I gave up. The UPS man went first. I was addicted to QVC and so to the brown truck. That had to go. Extras that I may have wanted went. Lay-a-way became a new option. Also loaning huge chucks of money to love ones went. Hold up. Did I say loan? Scratch that, giving money to love ones went. We were down to one check and since I was and still am the person who either writes the checks for the bills or lie and say the check is in the mail I'm the one who knows what we can and can't purchase.
You would think as long as I wasn't asking anyone to pay my bills that that would be no one's business except Bill's and mine right? Wrong? Everyone had an opinion (the ones who were no longer receiving money from me) about my lack or willingness to indulge in overpriced ventures.
You need a job!!
What the Frak!!! (I love that word)
You know of course this tirade didn't just pop into my head so I'll tell you what brought it on and I'll do what's intended by doing so, give you a peek into a writer's life (mine)
My sister said those words to me yesterday as we were having a conversation about her recent shopping spree and my reasons for not making a purchase I badly want until I have the money in hand. (not plastic) She comes out with, "You need a job." And I answered, "I have a job."
And so I do. No, my job does not come with a regular paycheck and I can't make plans for purchases depending on advances or royalties. The pay I receive for my work has come in random spurts throughout my career. It is not something that I can promise anyone that I can do something on an exact date because I will have a paycheck. It is not like nursing where I received not only a weekly check but overtime and bonuses. But make no doubt about it, writing is a job. Most writers are not able to make a living at this job, but to say it's not a job is not only wrong, it demeans what we as writers do.
I've been asked in many interviews how many hours I devote to my writing. It's so hard to give an exact number of hours because even when I'm not sitting at the keyboard I'm running scenes in my mind. I write in my intimate moments, when I'm cooking, sleeping, bathing. It doesn't matter I'm always working. I have a job.
But having a job as a writer I've learned is one that most people who aren't writers don't respect and some that are writers don't as well. Family and friends do not value the time of writers. A call comes in. "What are you doing?" Answer. I'm working." The caller continues as though you've said nothing at all. Why? They don't think I have a job.
Now let's take the Internet. Three to four times a week someone sends me a sample of their work to critique. Never mind that they don't ask, don't know me and even go so far as to tell me they've never read my work. AHH there's that word again, Work. I work. I have a job. Then there are the ones that wants to give me ideas, tell me what to write about. And we can't leave out the ones who contact me to write their books for them.
Yeah, this is a long post I know. If you're still reading but wish I'd end this, sorry, I don't see an end in sight. Let me briefly hit you with the basics. First I write a rough draft of a book, then edit it and edit it again. Then it goes to my editor and comes back to me and I edit it three times before sending it back to her. Then there comes the galley and the proofing. This is just the tip of a writer's life. As a writer, heck as a human, you should give back and I try to do just that. I read contest entries for various contests, I attempt to blog occasionally. Take this blog for example. It was created for a way for Parker authors to connect with the readers. If readers are reading they are leaving no evidence. We're doing it for the readers but it's the writers who read it, if anyone reads it at all. So I work for little reward, but I fraking work.
The long and short of it is this: I'm not alone in this. I believe most writers walk a tight rope between taking care of families, trying to keep our friendships intact and not wanting to be seen as anything but nice. I think we sometimes go too far in doing that. If we don't respect what we do then what the heck of course no one else is going to do it. In my RWA chapter I have several NYT bestselling authors. I'd love to get a quote from any of them for any of my books. But guess what? I know they work, they're writers. They don't have time to read my work (YES WORK) and give me a quote. I'm sensible to know that if I'm busy here on the bottom rung of the ladder that they're even more busy. It took me three years and a lot of trepidations to get one of my favorite authors to give me a quote for my upcoming vampire book. She works, she's crazy busy. I respect that. I didn't want to intrude on her time. I didn't want OT be one of the people like the ones I'm writing about. After three years I caved and asked reluctantly. She was most gracious and gave me a wonderful quote which I knew she would. But, she's a writer, she has a job, she's busy. Writers work at least twice as many hours per week as any other profession
So, since I know this is being read mainly by writers I'm going to give some unasked for advice. Guard your work and your time. You have a job to do the same as every other working American. Turn off the phone on the long talkers who won't accept that you're working, send back the requests to read tons of unasked for material. You're working.
I do plan to take my own advice. I've been overworked (there's that word again) and stressed out for the past month. Why? Because I've been doing so much busy work that I haven't devoted any time to my job. I'm making up excuses to get out of going to dinners and parties. I'm drained, weary and just plain bone tired. And the one thing I want to do most is this "JOB" that people think I don't have. I may be wholly underpaid for the number of hours that I put in, but it brings me contentment. And it is a job whether I love it or not. It is a job.
I'm a fraking writer!! I have a fraking job! Now leave me the frak alone so I can do my fraking work.