Last time I posted, I talked about all the great things that go along with making writing your profession. Today let's discuss the cons. Or maybe I should call them 'discomforts' since the word 'con' means against, and I would never want to discourage anyone who wants to write for a living from doing so.
you might have gathered from my last post, when you make writing your
profession, many unforgettable moments are likely to follow. I'll never
forget the first time I received a letter from a reader after my debut
novel BODY AND SOUL appeared on bookstore shelves. My husband and I were
out running errands and we stopped by the post office. He went in while
I sat in the car. Minutes later, Jeff came out waving an envelope, a
huge smile on his face. "I think you might've just received some fan
mail," he said. (He assumed this because the letter was addressed to
"Jennifer" Archer, and I'm known as "Jenny" in my non-writing life.) The
letter came all the way from Hawaii, and here's what it said:
Dear Ms. Archer, I just finished reading BODY AND SOUL, and I wanted to tell you that it was just about the stupidest book I've ever read. But maybe I just thought so because, before I started it, I read a wonderful book by Danielle Steele.
my dear fellow writers and readers, writing professionally comes with a
downside, too. A few jabs now and then. Some real ego busters. Anti-fan
letters qualify, don't you agree? For some reason, the letter struck me
as humorous, and I had a good laugh over it. I even sent the anti-fan a
cover flat of my upcoming release and asked that she give it a chance to
see if she liked it better than BODY AND SOUL. And I told her that since
she took the time to tell me how much she hated my book, I hoped she
had also taken the time to let Ms. Steele know how much she had enjoyed hers.
Here are a few other discomforts that go along with "author-hood":
Deadlines that creep up on you when you aren't looking, and you find
yourself in front of the computer for ten hour days only to discover
when you write "The End" that your ankles are swollen from all the
sitting. Oh, and there's the neck ache and the numb butt, too. Did I
2. You spend two or three hours at your booksigning
with a smile plastered on your face, and when someone finally stops by
your table, they ask where the bathroom is located.
Loneliness. Being home alone all day, every day, with no outside
stimulation or fellow workers to chat with on a break can make a person
weird. After my first two months of staying home to write full time, I
knew I was crossing over into looney tune territory when I left the house one
early evening to go to dinner with my husband and friends and the world
beyond my four walls seemed a little too loud and bright and
unfamiliar. Yikes. Since then, I've scheduled frequent
lunch dates with friends, and I write at the library or in coffee shops
from time to time.
But I've found that the toughest thing of all about writing to sell is this...
Whether you pursue writing full time or part time, if you want to
compose a wonderful story you must be willing to expose yourself,
warts and all. To lay everything out on the page uncensored. Let me
explain... My mom tells a story about when I was a little girl and she
was getting dressed in her bedroom one morning. I was sitting on the bed
talking to her at the time, and she was only wearing her underwear. I
don't know if I noticed a frown on her face or if I heard her mutter
something, but I must have sensed that she wasn't happy with what she
saw in the mirror because I said to her sweetly, "Don't worry, Mom, you
don't look fat when your clothes are on." (Please note that my
mother had and still has a lovely figure!)
That incident is a
perfect analogy for the most difficult thing we have to face as writers
-- we have to be willing to expose ourselves, to walk around with our
clothes off in front of the world. We must pull off our girdles and let
all the fat explode onto the page. Ugly thoughts, weaknesses, fears,
feelings, emotions. Writers, you must set aside your worries about what
people might think of you after they read your words. Will they wonder
if you share your characters' nasty habits? Their unorthodox beliefs?
Maybe. Probably. I've struggled with this in the past, but no more.
Today, my motto: What other people think about me is none of my
How about it, writers? What negatives do you face due to the pursuit of your art? And readers--do you
wonder how much of the writer exists in the character? I'd love to hear
Happy reading and writing!
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