As a writer I get a lot of emails. Most asking if I can send work to a publisher, some asking if I can help them by critiquing their writing so far. On occasion I also get questions as to what my job actually entails. I work from home, as a writer, and that’s my entire job. I write works for a living. For a long time after college, when I slowly started getting my work published in magazines and essay collections, I made a lot of excuses for what I actually did.
“Oh, you know, I’m dabbling in a lot of different things.”
“Well, really, I write and do administrative work.”
“Umm, well I write articles and I am working to be a writer one day…”
Imagine these being stuttered out in the least believable manner possible and you have the first few years of my writing career. It took several years for me to actually say that I was a writer. Of course, people still ask questions and I’m still happy to answer. Being a writer isn’t something you can condense very well. I write words and get paid. That’s a terrible simple answer and it does very little to explain what a writer actually does.
I graduated with degrees focused in creative writing and the English language. In other words, I was a total nerd for anything even remotely related to British Literature and the like. On my visits to England, which were quite unfortunate for my boyfriend, I had the pleasure of going literature-crazy and visiting every possible site I could squeeze in. I decided that I had to be a writer when I ‘grew up’ and was more determined than ever. Post-college I wrote and published work. If you’ve never attempted to publish work before then, well, try. There are worse things than being rejected. I was rejected so many times that I actually have a trunk in my closet with all my rejection letters. Getting on the subway with your underwear sticking out of your jeans is far worse than having someone tell you no.
Eventually I stopped being rejected. Maybe they grew tired of telling me no? So now I write for a living. I write stories for people all over the world. I’ve written classic literature pieces which have appeared in notable magazines. I’ve sat as a guest speaker in some of the better colleges throughout the country. But most of my days are the same.
I wake up, get my crap together, and do my best to write. Sometimes I’ll sit in my home office and play tug-of-war with my dog. Sometimes I’ll eat cake and state at a blank screen while I try and figure out words. If you’re looking for a life of glamour and want a lot of money – run away from writing. Even when you’re successful it takes a long time to see any money. So that’s the gritty of being a writer. You spend days trying to write and then doing other stuff in the middle of writing. Forcing yourself to sit down and write can be terrifying. Being a writer is about self-control and, while it seems like a really fun career, it’s a pretty difficult one to cultivate.