When I am out and about at events or appointments, people usually ask about my occupation as part of our small talk. When I mention that I am a writer, and I am working on my third historical fiction piece after writing and publishing several non-fiction books, I often get the question “So, what’s life like as a published author?” As if my life is supposed to differ dramatically from others in a very particular way.
Occasionally my replies will include something profound such as “It keeps me busy” or “It is a lot of hard work.” The trouble is, there is no easy standard answer to this question. At least not one that would be short enough for small talk. I’ve been writing for several years now, and I’ve learned a ton about the business. Of course, there’s always more to learn! Moreover, while I believe I have grown as a writer, there will always be room for improvement.
On a professional level: There are plenty of days when it seems nearly impossible to juggle my job and my writing career. Writing a book takes many hours and dedication. Often it takes me away from my loved ones even longer than my daytime occupation. Most of the time I get paid much less than you might think; I write because I love to tell a story. The few dollars I make in royalties per book barely pays for my next cup of coffee that fuels the next chapter. Writing not a get-rich-quick scheme nor is it the road to instant fame…it is a labour of love. It can take months and sometimes even years to write one book.
The thing I did not think much about when I began to write books - it takes even longer to design the cover artwork, edit the contents and then have my work published. After that, I have to give up even more of my precious spare time to market and promote my books. I’ve also come to understand that it takes a lot of time to build a readership. Now you might wonder why anyone would put themselves through this rigmarole!? The answer is simple: There is something heartwarming when a reader drops you a line to tell you how much they enjoyed your writing. It is immensely uplifting to know that you made someone smile with your book. When you love spinning stories, the simple process of writing is incredibly satisfying.
On a personal note: Writing has turned into something more for me than just a hobby. Even though it is not my primary business, it is indeed evolving into such. There are days when I cannot spend tremendous amounts of time with family and friends or shower my furry children with a lot of attention. Of course, there's always time for a quick belly rub! Or keep my home as clean and organized as I would like it to be, much to my dismay. It makes my brain itch when my house is not spit-spot! However, at the end of the day, it makes me happy to see all those words that I poured onto a piece of paper or more precisely onto a computer screen.
So, what is my life as a writer like? I might not be famous, nor has it made me rich (at least, not yet!), but it makes me happy. Moreover, while no crowds are standing in line, waiting for my autograph, I feel blessed to have this crazy, fulfilling writer's life!
To my fellow writers: Is your writing life what you expected? To my readers: Are you surprised by any of this or did you think it would be more glamorous?
Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added two historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty and The Country Girl Empress. When she isn't busy typing away on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Goodreads and Google+.