So, I’m going through my first round of edits for Desert Siren right now. Mostly, it’s adding a few things like refreshers for the first book, an additional chapter where I wanted to expand on some characters, and cleaning up some dialogue to keep it consistent. Meanwhile, the above is the poster for my first major signing, which I am quite jazzed about and will likely blog about after it is done.
As I work on this second book, I keep running into a situation time and again, and I feel it’s something a lot of authors feel a bit of kinship over. It’s that question that inevitably comes up when talking with people for the first time: “What do you do?”
In my case, it usually comes in the form of “What’s your other job?” However the question is framed, the results are universally the same. I tell whoever is asking that I’m a writer, and the wheels inevitably start turning. You can almost see the thought in their head: “That’s not a real job,” “That’s why you don’t take extra shifts?” “That’s a hobby,” etc, etc. Then, of course, I feel the need to further explain and showcase my feathers, so to speak, because simply saying I write doesn’t seem to convey any amount of importance.
It used to be easier to justify when I was writing news. Journalism doesn’t pay much, but people understand there’s a lot to deal with there. I could explain a few of my credentials or what I’ve worked on, but usually saying “I’m a journalist” was enough. Since moving to fiction, however, the standard of credibility seems much higher. There seems to be an undercurrent of thinking that books write themselves or simply fly off the keyboard. After all, everyone who went to college had to write finals projects, so 70k words can’t possibly be another real job, right?
I’ll admit that in today’s world where everyone seems to be in the hustle, going into the world of novel writing seems a bit counter-intuitive. Wages are lower, and people have to work longer hours on average to get by. Someone who says they are a writer might come across as lazy, especially in my blue collar area of Missouri.
However, while I am not the best person to take advice from on business measures, I have learned a few things in 31 years. Perhaps the most important lesson I could give is that going after your personal goals overrides anything else. Yes, it might make your life harder in the short term, but you will be happier in the long run. Along those lines, it’s important to realize that if you choose to do something you really enjoy, you have to put in just as much time and effort to it as you would any other job.
So, while writing may come off as “lazy” to some people, I am not ashamed of putting in twenty hours a week at it in addition to my part-time job and college classes. Beyond the writing itself, there are edits, cover design, copyright filing, formatting, managing several accounts to handle distribution, social media marketing, real life marketing, signings, agent queries, magazine submissions for shorts, and so on. All of which take up a fair amount of time on their own (interior formatting in particular is a massive, tedious beast). It is a great deal of work and time, and just because it has no guarantee of payoff does not make it somehow illegitimate as work. If anything, the people who do become successful in creative fields are the ones who have some talent but a great deal of persistence (sometimes to the annoyance of those who end up publishing them).
So, I’ll keep saying I’m a writer. A fledgling fiction writer, sure, but a writer nonetheless. And if someone’s eyes glaze over in disbelief when I tell them why I can’t go out that night or take more hours, let them. I pay my bills like everyone else, and that’s validation enough for me.