“If I only had time I would write my book.”
“I would love to spend all my time writing, gathering ideas, editing.”
“Someday, I’ll write too.”
There has always been something unsettling about how people say these things (and things like this). It goes past the unspoken assumption that unpublished authors are lazy (they have lots of time, ie no jobs), it goes past the assumption that writing is easy, that anyone can sit down and write a book whenever they want to (because let’s face it, not everyone is that driven).
No, it has something to do with that quiet suggestion at the edge of these statements that there is something beautiful, romantic, about the “writer’s lifestyle.”
Well, let me put this out there: there isn’t a “writer’s lifestyle.” Maybe there was once, but no more. We go about our lives, working full-time jobs, part time jobs, going to school, raising families, and so much more. No two writers are the same. And there is nothing romantic about being a writer.
Let’s put it this way: when we write, we strive to create realistic worlds where realistic things (ie coincidence) don’t happen. We fight our plot at every turn, pouring our life into a single work, letting it bleed us dry until we have nothing left – and then when we fill up we do it again. Sounds romantic and beautiful, right?
But what you don’t hear is how we lay sleepless at night trying to work our way around the plot holes. What you don’t hear is how we torment ourselves trying to build realistic characters or how we cry ourselves to sleep when we just can’t make the story work. What you don’t hear is the physical and emotional toll writing takes on us – the sore shoulders, the lonely hours when your friends are out, but you need to write, the frustration when well-meaning friends and family unintentionally deride your work, again. What you don’t hear is that it is one of the most taxing sedentary careers.
Because we do put our lives into it. And even though we say we have thick skin, every little criticism is cutting into us. We put our life into that work and someone just wants to tear it down for the sake of tearing something down.
So no, writing isn’t romantic. It’s hard, it hurts, and it doesn’t get easier. You get better, but writing is still hard, and it still hurts.