Monday, April 13, 2009

YOU'RE A WRITER? YOU NEED A JOB!!!




Happy Monday

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.

Frances
Dyanne
F.D. Davis

13 comments:

Niambi Brown Davis said...

Let's take that "what are you doing" a step further. When you tell them "working", not only do they want to continue the conversation but when you hang up, they show up on your doorstep. "I knew you were home..." For some people "working" is only defined by the act of leaving your house to boss or be bossed around from 9-5 (lol)

Dyanne said...

Niambi,

High five and amen to that. I think I'm in a better mood today since I went and unloaded on my doctor. And she thought I was only coming for a blood pressure check.


Dyanne

Miriam Pace said...

Dyanne, boy do I know what you mean. Years ago when my son had just started school, my neighbor drifted by to see if we could do coffee. I don't drink coffee. Because he was a stay at home husband, he assumed I had as much time on my hands as he did on his. I told him I didn't have time because I was working. I was on deadline with my second book, or maybe my third. This man appeared at my door every day for a week. He couldn't believe I was working every one of those days. Finally I told him I was a writer and he looked at me like I was an alien from Mars. He didn't show up for a couple days, and then he returned telling me since I was home I could do coffee with him. After all, it was wasn't like I was really working. I told him no and define working. It occurred to me after we moved, I can be really dense at times, that what my neighbor really wanted wasn't coffee. I'm embarrassed to say I didn't pick up on his signals, I was too busy living my story and trying to get the words out.

On retrospect, I got a lot of the "Why don't you get a real job?" from my family. Not until my first book was published did they stop harassing me about my work. I had a book in print and another contracted for and I kept regular business hours with the children in school. I had a real job. And once they could see the fruits of my labors, they starting leaving me alone during the day knowing I was working at my real job.

By the way I love the word frak, too. Battlestar Gallactica fans unite.

Miriam Pace said...

p.s. I also challenged people (siblings included) to write their own book. When they tried and realized how much work went into it, I found myself having even more peace during the day.

Lisa said...

Dyanne:

Let the church say Amen! Thanks for the great post.

Lisa

JC Martin said...

Dyanne, I'm a reader, aspiring author, stay-at-home mom, and full-time student. One of my classmates told me for a good bit of time that I had all the time in the world to complete assignments, because I didn't have a job. I kept trying to be nice until I lost it one day. I understand what you mean. I don't get paid for being a mother of three or wife to my husband. I cook, do laundry, and everything else; sometimes never stepping outside my house but I do work. The nerve of some people.

~tivi jones said...

Amen!

As an unpublished author, I love the crazy looks I get when I tell people I'm working (aka writing a manuscript, researching the business, etc.).

I guess people believe I'm just sitting on my butt surfing the net...chasing some crazy dream to sit on my butt and surf the net for a living. wtf?

I love writing. It's what I enjoy, but I'll be damned if it's not work!

Great post, Dyanne!

Dyanne said...

Miriam,


Oooh, I wish I had thought of that. The very next time someone says that to me I'm going to tell them to do just that. Since they don't think writing is a job, try it. Thanks.


Dyanne

Dyanne said...

Lisa,


LOL. On this you don't think I'm just being contrary. Thanks


Dyanne

Dyanne said...

JC and Tivi,


ROFL. You know I forgot to add kids, husbands, school and cleaning. When you think of all the WORK women do it's enough to pass out.

Dyanne

Dyanne said...

Miriam,


It took me a few minutes to figure out what your neighbor wanted. I was thinking, little old man wanting company. LOL

Marcia Colette said...

Either I'm lucky that non-writers consider my writing as work, or perhaps I did a damn good job at laying down the law with them regarding my time and where they fit into it. Either they will or they won't, depending upon how they test my patience. *g*

My friends and family know I screen phone calls whenever I'm writing. Heck, they pretty much know my writing schedule. They'll leave a message on my phone that goes something like, "I know you're writing, but I just wanted to let you know..." They know I'll eventually call them back.

Sometimes I wonder if my having a day job is why I don't get the "You need to get a job." As far as I'm concerned, I have two, even if they only see one. I rarely have to lose my temper with anyone, which is fine because bad vibes like that make me uncomfortable. So far, whatever technique I'm using has worked. And...I haven't lost any friends because of it. *g*

Miriam Pace said...

Dyanne, he wasn't a little old man, but my age. It took me a while to figure out what he wanted. Finally I asked my husband and Parker laughed about it for years. How could I be so dense?