Thursday, March 13, 2008

Really, I'm a Writer

by Felicia Donovan

When I think of the number of times that I have been challenged about writing not being a "real" job by people who are clueless about the effort it takes not only to write, but then to get published and finally to market the hell out of a book, I am eternally grateful for this:



because it is my living proof that in fact, I am a REAL writer, a published one, in fact.



I whip THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY bookmark out of my purse at the speed of lightning and flap it like a hundred dollar bill in the person's face. "See, I even have a bookmark. It's official."

Despite my best efforts, I don't think they have a clue as to what an enormous task this involves. Heck, before I got published, I didn't either and I keep reminding myself of that. Still, I don't know what it takes to design and build a high-rise building, but I respect that it must be pretty involved and time-consuming.

I figure right now I'm easily averaging 30 - 40 hours a week marketing THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY; editing the proofs on SPUN TALES - the next in the Black Widow Agency series; rewriting FRAGILE WEBS - the third book in the series; and working on yet another project. And yes, that's in addition to the full-time "day" job which keeps me on call 24x7.

So why is it that writing falls short of being recognized as a "real" job? Is it because writing is a somewhat reclusive endeavor so there's no one to actually witness the effort it takes? Perhaps it's because everyone from the meter reader to the guy in the Easter Bunny costume figures they have a novel in their head and it can't be all that hard? I'll put a positive spin on it and suggest that maybe it's just because people see our enthusiasm and dedication and figure if we love it that much, it can't really be "work." What do you think?


Anonymous said...

See, this could never work for me. I can't whip a bookmark out of my purse to show folks I'm a writer for one simple reason: I don't carry a purse!

I'd love to hear more about the promotion work you do during those 30-40 hours each week. Appearances? Emailings? Phone interviews? Blogging?

Anonymous said...

When an author is yet to be published people just think of it as a hobby I think. But when the book is published and the author can wave it around, I think they are taken seriously by most people. And anyone who can write a book, do all the PR and also work a full time job is Super Woman in my book. You deserve a big "S" on your t-shirt Felicia!

Kathryn Lilley said...

I actually prefer to talk about my writing rather than my other "real" day job, because peoples' eyes light up when I say I'm a mystery writer. Paul, I blogged today over at Killer Hobbies about a couple of good interactive online venues for readers to "meet" authors, and vice versa. Check out Best, Kathryn Lilley

Nina Wright said...

Felicia, my theory is that those folks who believe "anybody" can write a book assume that it's just not that different from the writing we've all done in school. And they think storytelling comes naturally. What they fail to recognize, of course, is the art, craft, and business entailed in the process! Not to mention the COMMITMENT. All those lonely obsessive hours....

When I worked as an actor, I often met people who thought they could do that job, too, because they'd been in a school play once upon a time.

My physician recently announced that he's planning to write a mystery series when he retires. I pleasantly inquired as to his writing background. He sluffed off my question with "Anybody who loves mysteries can figure out how to write that stuff." I smiled and said, "That's exactly my take on becoming a doctor."

He did not appreciate my sarcasm.

Bill Cameron said...

Usually what I find is not that people think it's not a real job, but that they think either I am a millionaire (so what are you doing in Starbucks?) or they feel wistful (I wish I could write a book.) I can't say as I've encountered the "it's not a real job" mindset. Or, if I have, I was oblivious to it.

Keith Raffel said...

I wonder if people ask Stephen King what he's been up to since he left high school teaching.

Anonymous said...

I think it's easier to go through labor and child bearing than to give life to fictional characters. How could anyone say it's not a job when you put blood, sweat and tears into every sentence, every word and every comma? Good for you Felicia, you are INDEED A WRITER.

Anonymous said...

I have the reverse problem. I'm a professional freelance writer working on fiction in my spare time (which, you know, there's just TONS of), and the only thing people ever ask when I tell them I'm a writer is "Have you written a book?"

Why, yes. Yes I have. Because writing a book is totally something you bang out over a weekend.

Congratulations on putting in the time and effort on that one. It's tough to write a book, much less get published, and kudos for getting your work there!