Most people who know writers from a distance think we live exotic lives. What could be better than sitting around all day talking in different voices, pretending to be people we aren’t? Why shucks, it’s almost as good as being a movie star! Writers get to “play” all day long. Our publishers send us on vacations all over the world so we gain firsthand experience of the gorgeous locales we plan to use in our stories. We spend our evenings reading adoring fan mail, doing interviews on radio and TV, and dining at the finest restaurants free of charge. We are some of the luckiest people on earth.
For a small number of writers, the above might actually be true. (If I had to venture a guess, I’d say a couple of hundred at most.) For the rest of us, our everyday lives are filled with the same mundane tasks our co-workers and neighbors attend to: cooking, cleaning, shopping, children, pets, bills. Fortunately for me, I no longer have a full time job outside of the house or children who need raising. But I’ve been there, done that. When I was writing my first published book, Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon and the American Dream, I lugged my black and white Toshiba laptop with me to work every day. Occasionally I was able to get some writing done between my office manager duties. On evenings and weekends, I stuck a notebook in my book bag so I could jot down ideas for the next day’s writing while attending student band concerts, plays, and track meets. (Katie and Carrie have since forgiven me.)
The point is, writing is work. Hard, exhausting work. The writing itself is actually the easy part of the job. Since I began work on this blog in September 2009, I haven’t had time to do much but think about the next book I want to write. Julia and I spend, on average, at least a couple of hours a day updating our pages here on WordPress, writing new posts, answering queries, learning new techniques to draw traffic to our site. In addition, we are plotting other sales and marketing strategies. Doing whatever it takes to generate interest in us and our books.
Last month one of Julia’s friends asked her whether the two of us “hung out” a lot together. When Julia related the story to me, we both nearly fell over laughing. Yes, in between doing the laundry and cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping, Julia’s job at City College and my tech support at my husband’s business, the five to six hours per day we work on this blog and marketing ourselves, we have oodles of time to go to movies, have dinner together, and go on weekend writing retreats to Hawaii.
Ah, the life of writers. It truly is exotic.