The other day someone asked me about what its like to be a writer. It was a strange question but since I started coming out of the closet – a long story – I’m asked loads of different things. One thing is for sure. The life of a writer is not the one most people think. It is now a fast-paced life with many demands.
It is true that many years ago the life of a writer was a simple and romantic one, not to say that it isn’t still romantic because it often is and especially for a purveyor of romance books. A writer probably lived a somewhat eccentric life surrounded by a certain mystique, they may also have seemed quite a peculiar and eccentric creature who generally shunned human company. Of course, there are and always have been many different kinds of writers but some stick out from the rest, the ones like Austen for example, surrounded in that gentle mist, scribbling away at her bureau in a quiet cottage in the old-fashioned way. Then the compiling of a novel must have seemed like a long journey indeed, as each page was carefully handwritten. Little else must invaded the life of the writer and publicity was in those days an alien creature and if it was there it was handled by someone else.
It is still that way to a certain degree and I don’t think the computer has killed the romance of the written word. My handwriting is deplorable anyway and I would hate to be the poor person that might have to read it. I even find it hard to read it myself at times. No, I love my computer and am thankful for an invention that allows my words to keep up with my mind. Writing is certainly in many ways harder. We do not have the peace and quiet of the olden days when the only interruption might have been children and pets. Now, we have to field a constant barrage of other people’s TV’s, music and activities. If you value your thinking space it can be very hard unless you are supremely lucky and live in a hut in an acre of land or have angelic neighbours who you can bend to your will. Do I sound cynical? I don’t mean to, but these problems are ones that most of us poor creative things have to contend with and never speak about.
Then there are the other things us modern scribblers have to contend with; PR and marketing and sometimes even editing, since often some of us have to edit like crazy. So, what does that make us and where does it place us in today’s society? I think we are a new breed of businessperson. Writer’s have to be savvy and not just imaginative, although imagination spills into every facet of our lives. Yes, we are a new breed and we are hard working, industrious, eager to learn and of course we love what we do.
I caused a lifted eyebrow when I mentioned all of this. Rather than spending an hour or two peacefully closeted away and writing when you feel like it, I pointed out the new breed – if what they do is their main job…strive even more than 9 to 5, often for peanuts, wading through a deluge of distractions to get there.
We must seem mad to most folk, I know we’re not. We do this because writing is in our blood, we love it and have to express ourselves. Most of all we love bringing escapism, pleasure and maybe a pinch of knowledge into other people’s lives.