This is the part of an occasional series of posts about what it’s like to be a professional writer.
People have many preconceptions about writers, and most of them are, well, not exactly wrong, but certainly stereotypical. Of course, many stereotypes exist for a reason.
Notion: Writers sit around in their pajamas all day, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee (or alcohol), looking thoughtfully at a pad of paper (or a keyboard), instead of doing “real work.”
Reality #1: Most of the writers I have known don’t wear pajamas.
Reality #2: Most writers who haven’t hit The Big Time can’t afford cigarettes. Have you seen the price of them lately?
Reality #3: OK, you’ve got me on the pots of coffee.
Reality #4: Sure, cocktails might happen if the day’s writing has gone really well and there is reason to celebrate.
Reality #5: Sure, cocktails might happen if the day’s writing has completely sucked and there is reason to blot out the memory.
Reality #6: When I try to look thoughtful, people ask if I’m napping.
Reality #7: A pad of paper? I don’t think I’ve seen one in my space since 1998. Or maybe 1997.
Reality #8: I live and die by my laptop. I coddle it. I speak nicely to it. I pet it. I need it to be happy and survive yet another month, or two, until I hit The Big Time, and can just have someone else write things for me to put my name on.
Reality #9: Remember how it felt way back in school when you had to come up with a great idea that fit the teacher’s criterion for a term paper, research it, write the paper–trying to stretch it to fill as many pages as the arbitrary requirement–and then try to slip it into the stack of papers near the bottom when she had her back turned so she wouldn’t know you hadn’t finished it on time?
Now, add to the mix that if you don’t get it all done in a way that garners at least a “B,” you will be homeless and hungry. And, sometimes, after pouring every ounce of your soul onto the page, you’ll get an “A” and still not get paid.
Nah, it’s nothing like work.
And neither are the 15 part-time jobs we take just to try to make ends meet.