So, 2020, and this is where we are at. Writers. Love us, hate us, immortalize us, spit on us, everyone has a different interpretation of who we are and what we stand for.
Years ago I came across the graphic at the beginning of this blog post. I couldn’t help but laugh because in a lot of ways it’s true. But, now, years later, after I’ve gotten my writing feet wet, broke in my shoes, wore those shoes out and bought a new pair, I thought I’d head back to this illustration to see if this is really what I still think writers do, or what I think others think writers do.
For my summary, I asked a total of no one else what their opinion was. That is simply because people do not have a problem telling me their opinion. And, as a writer, you will or may already understand that when you publish something, the world has an opinion, and often that opinion is not shared with you.
So, from top to bottom and left to right (You know, like you read) let’s review each of these boxes and see what the world really thinks (from my perspective).
What my friends think I do
Okay, yep, I will give this to you. I’ll include my two twenty-something sons in this too. My two young ones think I walk around with a metal detector all day, so they’ll get here sometime. To be fair, this is accurate on some days. Not all, but some. These are the days I ask, “Really? This is what I do? THIS? This is what I do?” One thing I will say is that on these days, this guy is way over dressed. Now, I’m not known as the most brilliant dresser. I wear shorts, a t-shirt, and either a jacket or sweatshirt regardless of the season or day. But, on these days, there is a good chance I started the morning at 3:30 AM in boxer-briefs, a t-shirt, and eating a bowl of pasta (yes, for breakfast) which is evident from the clown-face of marinara around my lips.
What my mom thinks I do
Hmmm, my mom is going to read this. “Hi Mom!” So, do I think that my mom thinks I am a hobo or a badly dressed bald guy curiously lingering outside a brick building? Perhaps. I’d say that is highly probable. As an actuary, I hope that she takes my use of the word probable as a positive, you know kind of statistics-like.
So, no, she doesn’t think I’m a lingering hobo. Though, I can’t rule out that is where she thinks I am heading. We will see.
What society thinks I do
Yep, this image from the movie, “Midnight in Paris,” is one of my favorite movies about writers. And, I will tell you that society, 100% believes that this is the life of a writer. Sadly, I must say that this is not the typical writer’s life – and I can assure you that Marion Cotillard and I have never been at the same party sipping on Absinthe.
To give you an idea of my life. Yesterday I woke up at 3:30 AM, made coffee. We got the kids to school and I spent the day as a bill collector reminding clients that, yes, the invoice was real. When the kids got home, I forgot to hide the candy canes, so our three-year-old had sticky hands most of the afternoon. Then I spent three tours in the bathroom killing ants that our daughter is afraid of while she went potty. Then, while not as bad as the day before, our no iPad and no iPhone to bed policy was steeply challenged by two very strong-willed three and five-year-old children. Finally, Jenn and I were able to relax on the couch to watch the final reunion show of “The Housewives of Dallas.” Somewhere in there, I wrote a lot of stuff, but one of our four cats sat on my computer and about 10,000 times she tapped the period key. So, to maintain the integrity of my manuscript’s format and not lose any writing I must hit the undo key 10,000 times. Thanks Cali.
So, do I spend my time at ’20s themed parties hanging out with Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard? Sadly, no. Is that how I want to spend my time? I guess not; I like my family. Is this how society thinks I spend my time? Curiously, they do and I regularly hear about it in emails, text messages, Facebook messages, at the local grocery, and whenever someone wants a signed copy of one of my books. These are the times that a small bit of me thinks…”Maybe this is how I spend my time?”
What editors expect me to do
I don’t deal with editors as much as one may think. Most of the books I write are for other people. However, when their books are picked up by an agent or publisher, yeah, this is what happens. And for myself, yeah, I spend a lot of time self-promoting. You are reading my blog aren’t you?
What I think I do
Do I think that I sit around writing poetic genius all day in 16th century England? This is a no brainer. This is exactly what I think I do.
What I really do?
Ho-hum. “Secret Window,” good movie. I love it. A slinky. I love that too. Do I sit around pondering the slinky all day? No, of course not. Our daughter destroys all slinkies within a day or two and we all know you can’t fix a slinky once its broken. As a writer, I’ll tell you that trying to fix a broken slinky when you really need to write instantly becomes priority number one. Seriously, it does.
Is this how I work? Hmm, I know what I should say for people who read this and are concerned I’ll end up as the guy in image two. Instead of answering directly, I will republican the personal integrity out of this question and deflect to someone else. It’s all my daughter’s fault for breaking the slinky, and now I’m forced to fix it, because it’s what I was left with. But, when I’m done, this slinky will be worse than you can possibly imagine, and that’s how I’m making the writing life great again.