Friday, April 23, 2010

The reality of writing

Writing, almost more than any other occupation, suffers from a strange and skewed perception of itself. In part this could be due to the way writers are portrayed in films, on television, even in other books. Writers tend to be shown as either mad ('The Shining') or bad ('Secret Windows') and the business of writing is shown as terribly artistic and genteel. I've had any number of people say, when I've told them I'm a writer, 'Oh, that must be a lovely hobby...' and the general perception of writers seems to be that we sit in a summerhouse surrounded by flowers, sipping wine (or tea) and tapping out our latest novel on an ancient typewriter.

At last there's an antidote to all that in the shape of a wonderful, and wonderfully funny, article by author Kate Douglas about the reality of writing and publishing. No floating around in summerhouses for Ms Douglas; she emphasises what anyone who tries to make a living from writing already knows - it's bloody hard work most of the time.

It’s great—you write full time, the kids are grown and three months is more than enough time to get a book written, right?

Yeah…sure. If that’s all you do.

I read the article, laughed, winced in sympathy, and wished I'd written it. I may not be writing simultaneous series of novels for different publishers, but I've been there with the edits and the cover art information and the second round of edits and the third round of edits and the proof-reading, all whilst trying my damndest to write something else. It makes juggling with chainsaws look easy. It's worth it in the end, of course, when you have your latest book or story published, but sometimes I do find myself wishing that people realised just how much of a full-time, business-like job writing is....


Bill Kirton said...

Twas ever thus, Fiona. Not much help, I know, but true. And I still think we're lucky to have the will (and the luck?) to do it.

fiona glass said...

Yup and I'm not grumbling really - but Kate's article spelled out so completely how so many of us quietly feel that I felt I had to link to it!

Lisa Pietsch said...

It was a wonderful article. I have to say I loved your take on it:

"It makes juggling with chainsaws look easy"

So true!

Amazing how far passion takes us, isn't it?

fiona glass said...

Thanks Lisa, glad you liked my rather heartfelt description. ;)