Site Meter Vamps and Scamps: It's a Job

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It's a Job

I get some of the weirdest comments and questions when people hear that I write for a living. Some are just plain weird, some don't make much sense, and some are downright freaky. Others are just kind of funny and then there are some that make me think.

Every once in a while, there's the kind of question that makes me wish I never told anybody what I did for a the bratlet's school teacher. She found out and now she has me come in couple times a month to work with the kids on their writing assignments. Do you have any idea how hard it is to teach a seven year old how to halfway organize their thoughts for a one page writing assignment? Trust me. It's not easy.

But the comment I hear the most is this one, or some variation of it... Wow, so you're a writer, huh? That's got to be interesting/fun/different/fill in the blank.

Here's the thing. It's a job. Fun? Well, sometimes. But then again, in my previous life, I worked as a pediatric nurse and working with kids can be lots of fun. Sometimes. Different? Weeeellllll....maybe, but I still have certain things that I have to do to keep my job. Meet deadlines. Get edits done, and speaking of edits, I've got the final edits on Hunter's Salvation sitting by chair and waiting for me. I have bosses(editors, readers) sort of, that I have to satisfy otherwise I may not continue to work for them. Meaning I might not sell any more books.

Like any other job, it has its high points. Writing The End, or whatever I'm using to close a particular book, is always a high point. Getting pay checks can be, but since those are never the same, it can also be depressing. Signing a new contract? High point..but it can also be so fricking stressful, I wonder why I do this to myself. What if the book sucks? What if it stalls half way thru and I can't fix it? What if it doesn't make sense? WHAT IF NOBODY LIKES IT....

It has also has its low points. Like edits. Like getting stuck in the middle and trying to figure out where it went wrong. Waiting to hear back from editors, agents, waiting on cover art and stressing over said cover art, because what if it sucks? And if that's not fun enough, try doing it while you're working 40+ hours a week and trying to raise a family and still make time to see the DH and actually have some semblance of a life. I'm one of the lucky ones because I was able to kiss the dayjob bye bye almost three years ago. Lucky enough that I was able to give up a decent, steady paying job and write full time, but there's no guarantee I'll be able to say that in two years. Five years. Ten years. Stressing about that will put me in the dumps for a week, so I just try to focus on the here and now.

My job has it's share of bad days. The characters won't cooperate. Too many of them talking at once, or worse, none of them talking to me at all. For the most part, I've lucked out in the cover department but when you get a bad cover, it can ruin your entire day...week...and every time you look at the cover, you get a little depressed. Authors don't always have much say in how a cover looks, so if it's bad... you're just stuck with it. For years. Seeing a review for a book you worked pretty damn hard on and watching it get trashed. It happens. It's not much fun and as evidenced by some of the blog wars we've seen, some writers decided to let everybody in the known world know that they are not happy about the review and they are out for blood.

It also has its good days. Like an editor emailing you that they are going to be running some extra promo for your book. That's always good. It means the editor believes in that book and they think its going to do well and they want to boost it all they can. You get an email from a reader who tells you that their book touched them-not just that they enjoyed it, but it actually touched them...they connected with the characters, they laughed, they cried and when the book was done, they went back and read it again just because they weren't ready for the story to end.

But in the is still a job. It's not going to suit everybody and yes, it's a job that not everybody can do. But you know what? That could be said for a lot of other jobs out there. I couldn't ever be a teacher. I couldn't be a firefighter. I wouldn't make the best cop or the best lawyer. I can be a nurse and I can be a writer. I'm just glad I'm one of the lucky people out there that actually was able to choose which one I wanted the most...and make a living from it.


Jordan Summers said...

Shiloh, Great post. I've tried explaining this to people and it never quite gets through. I think, like most jobs, writing must be experienced to fully understand that it's 'really' work. :)

Kathy K said...

I think that a lot of people, including me, approach a writer as someone pretty special. I can write about stuff in my life, but write a story; nope, nuh uh, no way.
I have the utmost respect for someone who has the talent to take an idea and actually *turn it into a book*. And as an avid reader, well, writer's are definitely *very* special!!

So, it may be a job ~ well, no I know that it's a job 'cause you said so and I can see that ~ but your job adds hours of enjoyment to my days and opens worlds to me that I would have no other way to access.

So, THANK YOU! Thank you for the job that you do, for the times that you struggle ~ and having a young family as well; kudos to you!! Thank you for putting the best of you into your books and thank you for bringing such wonderful, exciting stories and characters to life!!

Lisa F. said...

Yea, what Kathy said!

And I believe, based on the books you have out now, that in the years to come you will become a familiar name in many homes.

Keep up the good work! It really is appreciated.

Shiloh Walker said...

Kathy, Lisa, I think just because I'm so used to having stories in my head, it's hard for me to really see most writers as anything more than just people.

There are a couple, because they are kind of like the uber-writer, everything I wanna be when I grow up... *G* but other than that, even as much as I might admire and/or respect their work, I don't see them as any more special than the doctors I've worked with.

Jordan, excellent point.

Amanda Young said...

Great post, Shiloh. I think the worst thing for me is that people assume just because I'm at home that I can drop everything at a moments notice and do whatever favor they want from me. They don't quite get that when I'm at the computer, I'm actually working, not just sitting here goofing off (most of the time *g*)

Shiloh Walker said...

Oh, I'm frequently goofing off but I can multitask, goof off and work. ;p

One killer though is when people are surprised I send my kids to a sitter. But you are home! Yeah, I'm home but I WORK here.... ;)

Anonymous said...

This was a great post. The way people react to authors is kind of funny. It's sort like people think that because it's a desired job that authors can't ever get frustrated. I'm not even published and I'm frustrated.

About covers, I bought Hunting the Hunter because that cover was so hot. I also show it to house guests for the same reason. I guess that just makes me weird.

Shiloh Walker said...

Well, AJ, I can't claim any credit at all on the cover, although I do love it. :o)

Writing is very satisfying, but no matter how satisfying the job, it's going to come with ups and downs. Isn't that part of the definition of job...if oughta be!

Stacy~ said...

Kathy, you said it perfectly.

I guess for those of us who don't write, we're in a little bit of awe of those who can - it doesn't just take imagination, but dedication, determination, guts, and maybe even a bit of stubbornness thrown in.

And since being online and seeing what authors actually have to say about writing takes away that image of glamour - sleeping in late, eating chocolate and taking brief periods of time to create amazing work. That's not the reality at all. Writers are some of the hardest-working people I've met.

Thank you for all the stories you give us :) As long as you keep writing, I'll be reading your books.

Shiloh Walker said...

sleeping in late, eating chocolate and taking brief periods of time to create amazing work.

Man.... who is this writer? I wanna be her.... ;p Although the DH did let me sleep in late today. too bad the baby wasn't cooperating.

Missy Sue said...

I loved this post! I've been feeling that same way!