Since my earliest days of sitting in front of the keyboard, I can’t help but notice the romanticized ideas people hold about writers. I suppose gifted photographers are partially to blame…they’re good at making writers look brilliant, focusing on the horizon while pondering the ways of the world and the next great novel.
Hollywood, of course, has convinced the world that writers are all rich, eccentric and live in Hemingway-esque log cabins.
When my first book was published, I got snubbed by a few friends and co-workers. They assumed I had hit the big time and would become a distant memory, too good to hang out with the struggling class. One of them confessed to me later that in realizing one of my dreams I reminded him of the ones he hadn’t reached yet.
My favorite reaction to all of this is that of Stephen King. When speaking to aspiring authors, he started out by saying, “I’m just a guy.”
So before answering a few questions people have asked me about being an author, I’ll be completely honest and say, “I’m just a gal.”
How much money do you make?
I could say something about manners here, but here we go. I might have been able to buy a pair of pants with my very first royalty check. A happy meal with the second.
To be honest, most writers have day jobs. I’ll say that again, with no exaggeration—most writers have day jobs. “But your novel became a bestseller.” Still working the day job. So we are indeed, part of the struggling class.
Why didn’t you give me a free copy of your book?
Refer to the above question. When I published The Miracle of Rain, I didn’t even get my own free copy. For book signings, I have to buy the books before I can sell them. I’m not rich—as much as I would love to give copies to every friend and family member, I can’t afford it—a box of books costs several hundred dollars. I did get one free copy of Faith Seekers (from the awesome Rook Publishing), but if I want to sell copies in person, I still have to buy them first—so do other authors.
What is your real job?
Our educational system is to blame for this question. Any career in the arts is often thought of as a hobby. Not so. Talent or not, writing is a lot of hard work—it’s a skill, and a very difficult one to master. Being a good English student in college doesn’t pave the way to becoming an author. I learned most of what I know from my writers group, from reading, and studying/researching a lot. Like any education, it’s an investment.
Writing is my real job. But career is a better word for it.
Where do you get your ideas?
Various places. Sometimes from life experience, sometimes from watching/listening to interesting people. Prayer. The idea for Faith Seekers popped into my head like a painting. A single visual image (while doing laundry, heh) filled my mind’s eye so clearly, I knew this was a Father/daughter project, meaning God/Sherry project. For who or what—I don’t know, but I wrote it anyway. It’s controversial, and I knew it would be—but I wrote it anyway. That’s how art works.
I’ve always wanted to write, but I’m not good at grammar/don’t have time to learn something new/am not able to go back to school. How did you do it?
By disregarding the above excuses and doing it anyway. I did it without going back to school. If you have a dream…a true desire to do your thing, then you can do it. You can accomplish a great deal if you believe like a visionary. And never, ever, take advice from a pessimist.
There you go, writing life (at least mine) in a blog post. What do you do, and what misconceptions do people have about your career?