I haven’t allowed other authors to usurp my blog for a few months but my virtual arm was twisted to let Nicole C Luttrell sneak in and offer some comments on a writer’s life for us to take in. Am I a professional writer? I don’t know. I sell books, articles and stories so in that sense it is professional but I only just make enough to keep me in Marmite and whisky. The writers’ retreats I love to attend swallow up the rest even with the pittance I receive for editing other people’s novels. I’m guessing Nicole isn’t using the word professional writer in the sense that she can live off her writing earnings but her blog piece is a fun read. Note she is a fellow science fiction / fantasy writer. Adjust your specs and here we go.
Hi, my name’s Nicole. I’m a writer. I kind of make a big deal out of that. Specifically, I’m a speculative fiction writer. That means I write horror, science fiction and fantasy. I wrote a book called Broken Patterns, and I sort of think it’s the best fantasy book since Dragonriders of Pern.
Am I a little full of myself? Yeah, I’ll admit it. Calling myself a speculative fiction writer a hell of a mouthful.
I also happen to be a professional author.
I love the hilarity of that sentence, you know? A professional author? I can’t think of anything less professional, you know? I mean, think about it.
We make up stories and tell them to people for a living. We have imaginary friends and they talk to us. Lots of writers, like myself, write in our pajamas, on our couches, with a cup of coffee. We are the last people you’d think of as professional. We’re really just big kids, playing with our imaginary toys.
Well, except that we don’t just write in our pjs. We also write in waiting rooms, at red lights, during our lunch breaks. We write before our kids get up and after they go to bed. We write while other people go to the movies and go to bars and, you know, sleep.
We have to write in all of these times because most of us, including me, have day jobs. I have a full time day job, in fact. We write around jobs, school and families. In fact, a lot of us write around all three of those things at the same time. (Not me, though. I just have a full time job and two kids. Oh, and also a husband and too many pets.)
We weep over our writing, did you know that? We kill of your favorite characters, yes. But they were our favorite characters long before you ever heard of them. Characters don’t just exist for us, they live inside our minds. Killing one is gut wrenching.
Of course, the rough draft is only half of it. Once it’s done we start in editing. We edit, edit and edit some more. We edit our work until it glows. Until we could repeat the stories from memory. And sometimes we feel like we do that.
Usually, that whole repeating it from memory comes when we start promoting our work to everyone. Have you ever worked in sales? Imagine that, but all the time. The thing that makes it better and worse at the same time is that you feel like you’re selling a part of yourself. So you really believe that everyone needs what you’re selling, but you’re also taking every rejection hugely personally.
Finally, when we’re done with a book, we start all over again. Because writing’s an obsession, one that we cannot escape.
So professional writer is kind of a ridiculous thing to call us. It’s better to call us what we really are.
Thanks Nicole. So I’m a professional addict too!