There are a lot of things about being a writer that are both good and bad. But do you know that saying, about how you should always wear clean underwear just in case you get hit by a bus? Well, for a writer, it’s not just about the underwear. Take a look…
♫ Internet History – this is one that I sincerely hope my parents never have to see. I clear my history regularly, especially if I’ve been doing some shady research for a story ;), but they say that nothing is ever truly deleted from a computer, just written over, so what happens to all that shady stuff I’ve looked up before I kick the bucket? Some poor person, either family, a lab tech if I’m murdered or innocent person being donated my laptop is going to find a lot of questionable material that’s what.
♫ Bookcase – this doesn’t sound so bad, on the surface, but just take a quick peek at your Kindle Library or your paperbacks. What’s there? As a writer, there are a lot of things that could make you look suspicious if any coppers had to come around and take a look. For instance – most of my novels are either romance, erotica or crime. I have text books on Forensics and How to Commit the Perfect Murder. I also have a certificate to prove that I studied Forensic Medicine and Science. If I’m ever a suspect in a crime, I will have a heck of a lot of explaining to do.
♫ 24/7 – a writer is a writer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Where normal people, with normal jobs tend to get some time off, writers never do. Our brain is always churning over the next story, a new twist, a great new character. We walk down the street – we’re really people watching for character traits and to secretly see if we can find anyone who looks the way we envision our characters. We go on the internet – we’re either on Facebook promoting ourselves, chatting with our fans or doing research. There are the occasional moments of procrastination, but we don’t sit and play FB games all day. We just don’t have the time.
♫ Sleep – this is a word I’m really unfamiliar with. Example: I went to bed last night at 11pm, didn’t put the light off until 4am (under grudging duress) and I woke up this morning at 7.40am. That’s not sleep; that’s a catnap. But I doubt I’m likely to get much more than that while two stories are demanding my attention and another dozen are in the background quietly mewing because they know there’s no point. I literally have 39 stories to edit, only 2 of which are shorts; ~26 to write, none of which are shorts, and currently 11 books to read and review. I know, because I have a list. That’s how complicated and how much I have on my to do list. I need to write it down and assign importance to each item.
♫ Money – don’t get any fancy ideas about writers being rich. The J.K. Rowling’s, E.L. James’ and Stephanie Meyer’s of the world are the exception to the rule. Most authors can spend years working on a story. Most will never earn enough in a year to pay the bills, and all of us will suffer writer’s block, depression or anxiety at least once in our writing career. It’s just the way it is. They say it takes 5 years to build yourself a dedicated audience, as a writer, and it took me 10 years just to get published, so it’s a long way off from publishing your first book or getting that acceptance letter/e-mail to actually making it in the business.
♫ Sock-puppeting – the dark side to being an author is competition. Sock-puppeting is a method of writing anonymous reviews online praising your own work. It’s a fickle world, where some other authors slam your book and have their fans slam you and your book publicly just to get ahead. Don’t laugh, don’t call me cynical or bitter – it’s true. I’ve seen it myself with other people. Some authors can share your book with their fans and ask them to ‘dislike’ or ‘downgrade’ every good review you get so that it gets hidden from the review feed on Amazon or Goodreads. They can have their fans write you a 1 star, slamming review or start arguments in the wide web of FB that make you look bad. These people are, thankfully, a minority, but it happens and we all have to be aware of it. The way to deal with this is to never take anything you read about yourself or your book personally. The best example of this is RJ Ellory, who actually wrote fake reviews for his own books and books by other authors. Take a peek at the whole issue here.
♫ Trolls – the reader version of the spiteful author. Trolls are readers who, like mentioned above, slate or slam your book and you as a writer for no apparently reason than to get off on the attention it gives them. Some do it to draw you into an ugly battle online, which most of us don’t fall for and some do it for the sake of their favourite author who is being ‘overshadowed’ or even just because they don’t like you, as a person, or your bio pic or even the blurb of your book. There are crazy people out there, some who don’t even realise that they’re hurting you, as a human being with feelings, or your business. Writing is an much a career as being an accountant, but it relies much more heavily than any other career on the opinion of the general public. It’s a nasty truth, but it’s one we writers know only too well. Want an example – look at the flack Charlaine Harris got for the last book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. No-one had even read it yet, but she was being slated for ‘ruining’ the series. This series is her baby, it’s her imagination so she can ruin it if she likes and take it any direction she wants. But if you’re going to slate a book, at least let it be released and read it first. You can read all about the chaos here.
Upsides to being a writer are quite impressive, but relatively few and far between. Saying that, I would never have another career. Writing is in my blood; it’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl. If I never make a million bucks, I will never regret becoming an author. Here’s just a few reasons why:
♫ Fans – I love my readers. They are loyal and understanding of my terrible health, to the point that I couldn’t ask for better people to read and review my work. Even the reviewers I’ve had that have pointed out mistakes, things the reader didn’t enjoy or gave a low rating for in their review, are worth a fortune to me. I value honesty and I want to know if and how I can improve my writing or an individual story.
♫ Feedback – the feedback I’ve had from fans is unbelievable. I post a lot of stories on Wattpad, free to read, until such time as the story gets picked up for publication. The response to my work, even the old stories that I haven’t even looked at since I was a teenager, is phenomenal. The reaction to my true story of how I had cancer when I was sixteen, has been off the charts. Wattpad want to feature it, I’ve been told my story is ‘inspirational’ and although one reader told me they had never had cancer or known anyone who did, they understood the feeling of isolation and my story helped them deal with it. I couldn’t ask for anything more from my readers.
♫ The Writing – let’s face it, being a writer is nothing if you can’t write. Although sometimes it’s a pain in the butt when you’re tired and you need to finish a story because it’s bugging you, but you just don’t have the energy, it doesn’t matter. You know that tomorrow is another day and it might be different then. Just thinking about my stories, what I’m going to do next, what I’m going to work on next is exciting. When I finish a story, I’m sad because it’s over and I don’t want it to be, but then I get to edit it; honing and crafting it into something perfect. And then, bonus, I get to move on to another great story. It’s a dream.