Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Writer's Life

The Myth

For reasons I don’t quite understand there are some myths floating around about being a writer. People imagine that writers live in houses so big, they can play hide and go seek with the whole neighborhood and take months to actually find everyone. People believe that writers have to write under pseudonym to keep the paparazzi at bay. People believe that writers never have to apologize for a messy house because people assume all writers have maids, chefs, and yard care guys on staff. People assume writers don’t panic when the bills come every month. People imagine writers pound words out in a violent frenzy of muse inspired creativity as they overlook either an ocean or mountain meadow.

The Reality

My house is adequate for my needs. My kids can play hide and seek, but they have to get ingenious about where they hide and the game is over in mere minutes. Writers apologize more for our messy houses, because we didn’t have time to wash last night’s dinner dishes or put away all the garbage in the living room because we were busy writing. Most of us don’t write under pseudonyms, and when we do, it’s for a marketing reason or because some other author has your name and you don’t want to be associated with someone else’s work.

I’ve never seen my muse. I think he's hiding out somewhere snickering into his hand about how lame I am to keep thinking he’ll show up. Or maybe he’s at the bar and is too drunk to get his backside over to my house. Either way . . . I’ve never met the guy. I think if I did, I’d sock him in the nose and end up in a lawsuit with the pretend-beings-police.

And I’ve only written while overlooking oceans and mountain meadows a few times. Most of the time, I’m writing while waiting for doctor’s appointments, parent teacher conferences, and during times when I should be making dinner (guess what kids, we’re doing hot dogs again tonight).

This is not to say my reality is bad. I get to eavesdrop and call it research. When I buy a new outfit for a booksigning, it’s tax deductible. When someone’s mean to me I get to kill them off in a novel. When someone is nice I can make them a hero and they think I’m cool. My kids’ friends think I’m cool (my kids know better). Children write book reports on stuff I write and try to philosophize my intentions. People automatically imagine I’m intelligent because I put all those words together. I can work in my pajamas. When my kids misbehave, at least I get writing material out of it. And last but not least, it’s cool to be a writer because when I’m moody I can blame it on my characters.


Janette Rallison said...

I heard from somewhere (I never remember the sources of my information) that the average writer makes 6,000 dollars a year. School children are always shocked when I tell them this.

Josi said...

Oh, I like that statistic. But truly there isn't anything I'd rather do for six grand :-)
Great blog julie

Andi Sherwood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andi Sherwood said...

So now I look totally lame because it shows that I deleted my comment. I deleted my comment because after publishing it, I realized that I had used the same phrase twice. Here is my comment (without the second phrase):

Awesome blog, Julie. I have to say I'm relieved to know that I am not the only one not making dinner, doing laundry (it would never get done sometimes if it wasn't for my mom), or cleaning house. The only difference, however, is that we eat cereal rather than hot dogs. :)

Travis Erwin said...

It is a shame we all have to live in the real word, even as we create a fictional one.