I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been a working mom. I am currently attempting to do both. I can tell you being a parent is work...but it’s not employment.
Sometimes being a writer reminds me of the stay-at-home parent days.
When someone asks what I do, and I say I’m a writer, I get that same narrowing of the eyes, the same twist of the mouth, the same subtle nod of the head that very clearly says, Oh, you don’t have a real job.
The conversation branches off from there. Some people will ask what I’ve written or if I’ve been published.
When I tell them I have published two full length novels with three more contracted and in various stages of publication, they ask where they can buy them. When I say they’re ebooks I get the same twist of the mouth, the same subtle nod of the head.
Other people will immediately ask me how they can get published because they have an idea for a book that they’re going to write. Can I stop here for just a second? I don’t want to sound grumpy and I definitely don’t want to discourage anyone from writing, but when was the last time you stopped your mechanic to ask him or her to explain how a combustion engine works because you‘re gonna put one together some day?
I know a lot of people think that I sit at home, on my computer, in my pajamas drinking coffee and talking on twitter and Facebook all day, occasionally typing a few words. While that might be true—and I’ll have you know I’m wearing sweats today—it’s not all I do.
And it’s not the asking that bothers me. I knew nothing about the publishing industry when I first put pen to paper and I am so thankful for those who taught me what little I now know, and I’ve done a lot of studying. The problem is the attitude behind the question. Most of these people don’t understand that writing is work. Publishing is even more work.
And that brings me around to the beginning. Cool how that works, huh?
Writing is lonely work. It’s frustrating work. It’s work I love. It is work that I can do in my pajamas, with a cup of coffee, and a donut, without brushing my teeth first or putting on any makeup. Skype? Yeah, right! Not for me.
But it’s also a job.
I may be self-employed, but I am employed, um, by me. Which means I’m my own boss and my own employee. Which means I do have a somewhat flexible schedule, but the term schedule in there is really important too.
So how do I get people to respect that? This is the question I’ve been asking myself. And you know what? I can’t.
This is not a rant against people not understanding what I do. Because how could they? It really isn’t fair of me to expect them to. It only bothers me because I don’t always treat my work as employment or give it the respect it deserves. So this isn’t a rant, it’s a battle cry, a call to arms!
--Sorry, writing a war scene in my current manuscript in progress--
It starts with me. No more excuses about ebooks verses print. No more...well, I edit too amendments to my statement as if my writing were a hobby and not a job. I know how many long hours, some of them in the wee hours of the morning, I’ve put in. How I’ve struggled with stupid words like burst and bust so you won’t have to! And really, lay lie laid? Yeah someone needs to be! I mean who made up these rules?
You know why I wear pjs or sweats? Because I haven’t had time to do my laundry and I can’t afford a maid. Yet. Maybe ever. But it’s okay. I don’t notice. I’m working.
So yup, I am employed. I’m a writer. The reason that people think it’s easy is because we make it look easy! Do you know what a compliment that is?
I mean magicians practice and practice to make the slight of hand look effortless and we make magic with words. We study transitive and intransitive verbs, character arcs, have CMOS and MW on our favorites menus and shun stereotypes all to make writing look effortless.
A word magician. Yup, that’s a pretty awesome job.
Now, please pass the donuts.