The Private Life of a Writer

Is THIS what people think?
Is THIS what people think?

So, this came screaming across my screen the other day and it made me laugh. Before I started this journey, it’s what I thought writers did.

For those of you who don’t know it: No. No, it’s not.

I wish, but no.

If I could drink coffee all day (OK, I do) and dream stuff up (OK, I do) and consistently get it down on paper (not anywhere near the truth), I would be the Mad Hatter of the literary world. Because there’s more to life (gasp) than telling stories. There’s laundry, spouses, dishes, pets, children, grandchildren, and, oh, yeah, that thing called a job that gets in the way.

This working thing is getting in the way of my life. I took a part time job last month because I had finished my novel (Stitches, to be released on October 17, if you haven’t heard), and I just wasn’t feelin’ it yet – that desire to get back into the characters and the world I had created so carefully and with some angst to do the sequel justice. I needed an out, a few hours a day.

It’s amazing what happens to your ego after almost two years of almost no human contact, pounding away at the computer (I went through a keyboard in a year). Any positive feedback is an aphrodisiac. They said, “Hey, you’re valuable, and we need you full time. We couldn’t live without you” (or words to that effect). So what did I do? “Sure, I’ll join you.” And smile because somebody wants me and thinks I’m valuable.

Well, hell. There I go again. I’m making a few bucks, but no words come out. I’m tracking numbers, making phone calls, creating reports, and managing sixty people attempting to make the world a better place. But no writing.

But I am getting some great story lines, some character sketches, and meeting some truly amazing people. In the back of my overworked brain, I’m storing this stuff away like nuts for the winter.

And there will be a winter – coming sooner than I imagined. See, when your time is so constricted (OMG I’ve lost eight hours a day of my writing time!!!) you find spaces of time when the synapses are firing freely – I spent just an hour last night getting something down I had been meaning to do for some time, just procrastinated – not in the mood – because I had all the time in the world.

Not now. Like a general ordering her troops into battle, my gray matter forced itself into marching position last night and spit out a piece of, dare I say, genius (if I do say so myself), precisely because I knew it had to get done and I had only this one small sliver of time to get it right. I have ordered my life so that I can spend at least one hour a day making stuff up.

So when the general (non-writing) public, those people who have time to go see movies and watch TV and make gourmet meals, think about what we do (see above), they don’t know about character development, story arcs, antagonistic forces, points of view, and all the other details we have to keep in mind when we’re writing, and maybe it should stay that way.

Let them think it’s easy and we’re geniuses, just spitting stuff out on a whim.

Author: Kathy Weyer

Kathy Weyer is a reformed Human Resource executive and Marriage and Family Therapist. She has worked in several hospices as a grief and bereavement counselor.

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