Why You Should NEVER Become a Writer.

It's Writer Wednesday!!!!

I've kind of fallen off the wagon. But no worries. Because my deadlines are met and I am BACK, BABY!!!

Only this one might be considered the anti-Writer Wednesday.

Today I don't plan on talking you into writing for a living. I plan on the opposite.

Talking you out of it!

I just finished my latest full length. It's set to release tomorrow. My novella series is all nicely wrapped up for this season. And my print books are almost all ready to go.

In other words, for the first time in two years... I actually feel like I'm not drowning.

My projects are in order!!! I don't have another deadline until September!! And if that means I meet it at 11.59pm September, 20th, then so be it. The point is, I am currently not behind.

I feel amazing.

I really, really do.

And during this euphoric period of post-project, when it hasn't actually gone live yet and I am still deciding which project to start next... I've had some time to sit back and reflect.

And by that, I mean, I've finally pulled my head out of the turbulent sea of overwhelming chaos and taken a few deep, cleansing breaths.

I'm seeing the world anew. I'm relaxed. I'm calm. I'm collected. I'm so freaking cool that I've walked around with a smile on my face for the past week.

It's given me the mature, enlightened perspective to ask... WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING!!!!!!

That's right! Why did I EVER want to be a writer??? Why did I EVER think this was some kind of dream job??

How in the world am I going to survive the next however many years I have left on this earth??? Which might only be a couple if the constant ulcer-creating anxiety, and caffeine-tumor I am positive is growing in my brain, have anything to say about it.

Those are serious questions. And if anyone has the answers, I would love to hear them.

And I'll tell you why.

I will tell you why I am suddenly doubting my career choice and my sanity. And if you're thinking about joining the ranks of scribblers and poets and novelists and journalists and you have high hopes for a lifetime in front of your computer, with highly caffeinated beverages running through your blood and a cigarette hanging haphazardly from the corner of your mouth (Side note: I don't really smoke, it's just part of my fantasy-self when I think about myself as a serious professional.), well, I am here to talk you out of it.

I'm saving your life people.

Listen to me!

(Disclaimer: This is all sarcasm. PLEASE take it as sarcasm. Or I really will start questioning my career.)

The Ten Reasons Why You Should Give Up All Hopes of Becoming a Writer:

Any writer, whether award-wining, bestselling, seasoned, or novice knows that writing is a Love/Hate relationship. You love what you do! Until you don't. Then you hate it. Loathe it. Want it to burn in the fiery pits of the lowest circle of hell. But then, you make progress with your story.. and suddenly you love it again!!! Then you hate your characters so much you imagine painful, gruesome deaths for all of them. Even the sweet grandmothers. Even the knight in shining armor. They must all die. Every last one of them! Then, you finish your manuscript and obviously it is the most beautiful, creative, artistic thing anyone in all of history has ever written. You LOVE it. Adore it. You wrap it up in swaddling clothes and rock it to sleep every night. You are a GENIUS. Then. You publish. And the reviews come in. And suddenly nothing disgusts you more than that stupid, piece of poisonous sludge(a real term that has been used on one of my books before in a real review) you can't believe you put your name on!

This is the writing career.

Imagine a long hallway filled with every single occupation you possibly could go into. There's the Fireman's door, and above it is written in bold, sturdy script: HERO. There's the Teacher door and above that noble position, the sign says Mentor. Over on the doctor's door, the description reads Superhero. An Actress gets Idol. A Sports Star: Champion. And an Accountant reads Tax Savior.

Then there's the door for Writers. Of course the description cannot be summed up in one word. We are writer's after all. We need to use as many words as possible. We need to convey emotions and create the scene. We need to hook you and build a world around this one plaque, this one thing that will label us forever ever and ever amen.

Above the Writer's door it says this: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

Optimistic right??? Don't worry. It gets better.

1. Personal Hygiene.

Do you like being an acceptable member of society? Do you like smelling good? Do you like frowning on Cheeto stains on your shirts and chocolate smudges on your face?

You do?

Then give up on the writer's dream. Do it right now. Because once you walk through that door, the standard of living decreases. Drastically.

Suddenly once-a-week showers are not only acceptable, they're mandatory. Who has time to shower when you have thousands of words to churn out in one day?? Who cares if your hair is greasy and matted into a hundred untameable knots? Who cares if your fingernails are jagged, your toes unpainted, your eyebrows one giant caterpillar of hair zigzagging over your forehead?

No one does. You work alone! Out of your house!!

You don't have a dress code or casual Friday. Every day is casual.

No. Worse than casual.

When I was younger, aspiring to publish my first book and dreaming about this career. I actually imagined a career. You know, one of those things you set an alarm for in the morning, get up early for, grab coffee on your way out the door or at the closest Starbucks. You dress for success. You own multiple pairs of Spanx. You have weakly visits with a manicurist and monthly appointments with your hairdresser to maintain your professional persona. And you get bunions on your feet because you wear killer shoes. Sure, they're like Chinese feet binding, but they look so sexy you could die.

That's how I imagined myself.

Also... with to-go salad lunches and an endless supply of Starbucks.

In reality, I wake up.. and that's an objective term depending on the day. Sometimes I put a bra on. Sometimes lunch happens first. I may or may not have changed my clothes in the last three days. And a shower is a running joke in my house.

I don't grab a coffee before I leave my house. I guzzle coffee from 7am to 11pm so I can work into the wee hours of the morning and make some (freaking) headway with me stupid-horrible-awful beloved manuscript.

I don't eat salads for lunch either. I should eat salads for lunch. Even the to-go kind. But my writer's ass prefers such healthy meals like a handful of M&Ms and cheese. Or twenty dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. Sure, my coffee is top notch, thanks to the ol' Keurig, but just try to get me to put two sentences together before I've had three cups. And that sheer volume of caffeine cannot be good for anyone.

My husband does a double take if I come downstairs showered and with makeup on. That is actually not sarcasm. He hardly knows what to do with himself.

And leaving the house on a moment's notice becomes impossible. Oh, we're out of milk and I should just run over to the store and get some?? Not happening, unless I want to be the disheveled monster that gives small children nightmares. Should I stop and talk to that mom over there right after dropping my kids off at school?? Nope! Not if I want her to let her kids come over to my house and play ever again. How about Friday night date night?? Well, that's going to require at least three hours in the bathroom. Not because I'm vain. But because if I don't finally take some time to trim, shave, pluck and paint I'm going to be surrounded by Federal Agents wearing Hazmat suits the second I walk out the door.

And word of advice, being dragged off for EPA testing ruins most date nights.

2. Along those same lines would be the condition of my house.

Do you know what I daydream about sometimes? An office job.

Yep. I dream about it. I drive by office buildings and I think, Wow, what must it be like to work in one of those fancy buildings? With other people? In real clothes?

Do they really have birthday parties with cheap cake and watered-down lemonade?

That sounds... wonderful.

And it truly does.

If you're a writer, working for yourself, you're usually imprisoned in your own house for an indeterminable length of time. With deadlines looming, and bills to pay, you don't have time for silly distractions like vacuuming. Or dusting. Or, god forbid, dishes.

And honestly, no matter what profession you're in, who actually has time for the worst of them all... Laundry??

Not me. That's for sure.

Writers say that we're a slave to the muse. When creativity strikes, it's our civic duty to sit down at the computer and not leave until every, single word is typed and edited. It is our obsession.

And we're eccentric. So you're supposed to understand.

The truth is, there's a lot going on upstairs and we don't always notice as our house falls into disrepair around us and the dust piles beside us. In fact, it's not until we've finally peeled ourselves away from the desk chair that we notice the only place that isn't covered in three inches of grime is where our ass has been firmly planted for the last, well, however much time has gone by.

There was this time in my life where I routinely scrubbed, dusted, deep-cleaned and all the other good stuff once a week.

What a glorious time that was too.

Now, I have a different routine. I finish a project. I spend the next three days scouring the house from top to bottom. I finally get around to all that laundry. (This is my family's favorite part since they have now been going months without clean skivvies.) I do the dishes. I make a total of seven healthy meals. We invite all our friends over and get caught up on our social obligations. I supervise (the crap) out of my children so that they clean up every single little mess they make. I wipe down the bathroom sinks in the morning. I sweep the floor after every meal. I fold the laundry. I put away the laundry.

Then I start a new project.

And thus begins the decline into slumville.

I don't know what this is teaching my children. But it cannot be good. They think the mop and broom are toys. For them. And when I finally put the laundry away, Zach can never find it. He's simply not used to cleanliness or organization.

It frightens him.

It frightens us all.

3. Research. Everything is research.

Once upon a time, I used to do things for pleasure. I used to go to the movies, or dancing or dinner and it was purely for the sake of enjoyment.

I also used to interact with people... for fun. Or something along the lines of fun.

When I met someone new, it was simply that. A meeting. A new beginning. A chance to start a new friendship.

The fun has died people! Died.

Once you're a writer, nothing is ever done for the sake of fun again. Everything. Every single thing in your life is now accomplished for the sake of research.

Research. That's the word of the day. The word of every day.

We write about the human condition, therefore we must study it, learn about it, examine every single aspect and facet of it. We are of the world, but not in it.

My husband takes me dancing and I have to spy on watch everyone in the room so I can later, at some unnamed, yet to be determined date, write about clubbing. We drove fourteen hours in one day this summer, and the entire time I kept picking up ideas/tips/future plot lines for my Zombie series.

I no longer just meet people. I shake their hand and ask them how they spell their name and if they have a nickname. I read the credits in movies just so I can get more ideas for fictional last names.

I am obsessed with humanity but in this, like, weird, creepy, peeping-tom-neighbor-that-is-always-peering-through-her-blinds way.

It's not normal.

It's weird.

I'm weird.

I'm now weird.

That's like my thing. People introduce me and then as an aside, behind the cover of their hand, they whisper, "She's a writer." And then their friend says, "Oooooh."

And then they smile patiently at me because they both know I should be locked away.

The only upside to this is that whenever someone pisses me off I can just write them into my book and then give them an incurable strand of Malaria.

Just kidding!!!

Kind of...

4. The bizarre physical ailments you get.

Sure, lots of jobs have physical setbacks. Plenty of manual laborers have back problems. Professional athletes get bad knees. Pop singers always have those polyps on their throats that force them to rest their voices and postpone tours.

But what career ending injuries do writers get???

Carpal Tunnel.

So bad ass. Watch out for my arthritic-looking, gnarled fingers. They are gruesome.

Okay, maybe you expected that one.

But how about the Tennis Elbow thing I have going on??? Like for real. My elbows are KILLING me. If I even graze my funny bone these days, I am reduced to hysterical tears. Which is fine and good when I'm at home. But what about when I'm in Target and I catch my elbow on the end of an aisle and crumple to the ground in a heap of sobbing cries, holding my arm against my chest, screaming up at the ceiling, "Why God, WHY????"

And I can't take care of this problem. Like, for the sake of my own dignity, I can't sit around "icing" my elbow or popping pain killers because my elbow muscles hurt.

I mean, really, do you even have elbow muscles???

How about the problem with my expanding bum?

Can I get a doctor's note for that?

Putting aside the treats I need in order to stay awake and write something coherent, let's just talk about all the times it goes numb.

That can't be good, right? It cannot be healthy to have a tingling gluteus maximus for the better part of a day.

Once, for like a week, I had ankle problems. And I really, really thought I had sprained my ankle but couldn't remember how.

Nope. It was how I was putting pressure on it every time I sat down at the computer.

I'm not sure I'm physically cut out to be a writer.

I mean, it might help if I actually walked away from being a writer a couple times a week and did some laps or something. But hush. We'll tackle that problem a different day.

5. Speaking of physical problems... My hump.

And no, not my lovely lady humps. My hunchback hump. The one sitting across my shoulders and silently calling me an old hag. Yes, THAT hump!!!

 To be honest, I split the blame of this one between Diet Coke and writing. But writing is definitely a factor!

It doesn't help that I started out with slopey shoulders to begin with. It's like my entire body was designed to curl into a ball.

And stay that way.

The longer I write, the more I worry about this. What if I really do turn into Quasimodo? Is there a way to write about that? Can I do something like a retelling of the Disney classic?? Is it a possibility Disney will step in and make a movie about my life???

Okay, I realize I'm just trying to glam this thing up. But you would too if you had a pouch sitting on the back of neck.

My only other option to glam it up is to actually glam it up. Like bedazzle it and make it out to be the next big thing. The latest fashion accessory- the Writer's Hump.

Which might eventually catch on if I ever left my house to begin with.

Instead, I'll just keep to my reclusive self, slumping around the house and ringing bells on the hour, every hour.

6.Word Counts.

Once you are a writer, time ceases to be a real thing. And I don't just mean when you sit down at the computer and get into the zone. Sure, time flies when your pounding out manuscripts and meeting deadlines.

No, I mean, who needs time, when you can measure everything in word counts??

Instead of texting your friend that you're going to be fifteen minutes late, it comes out like this. "I'll be there in 1k."

Your kids want to go to the park? Sure, sweeties, just 2k more. K?

Your husband is wondering what time you're coming to bed? I'm just going to get another half a k in, then I'll be up!

How long was that movie? Oh, I don't know... maybe 3k? 4k?

Can you make plans next week? Let me check... So, if I write 5k a day.. that leaves me... Yep, I can be there!

Everything revolves around word counts and ks. It's k this and k that and you forget that normal people don't add a k to every single numerical value. But in your head, your writer's head, it's all just a bunch of ks flying around up there. In one ear, out the other, buzzing around your head like a swarm of bees.

And shockingly, k doesn't even stand for killmenow.

It stands for something so much worse. And it has the power to make you feel mildly productive or like the biggest failure to ever walk this earth.

There is nothing worse than the k.

Don't let it control you.

Don't let it take over!

7. Get used to it. You're crazy.

Sure, writing is like the acceptable form of crazy. But you're still crazy.

Out of your mind.

Bonkers.

Completely bananas.

Bat. Shit.

You listen to voices in your head. They tell you what to do. And then you do it!

And what's worse, is it's never like one voice that you can have calm, rational conversations with. Oh, no. It's like twenty voices. And some of them are really demanding. And others are just really rude and never do what you want them to do. Those are the worst. It's like.. you belong to me. I created you. Do what I say to do!! Then there are others that are actually scary. They actually scare me. And some of them are really self-centered and they're all, "Write me! Write me!" And others are a little bit vindictive and they're all, "Na na na na na, she can't write you. She's writing me-ee."

But the point is. They are ALL up there. And they are all demanding your attention and focus and gray matter. And then you have real life to deal with. Like actual, living people that need your attention.

Like your kids.

Or the police officer that pulled you over for speeding and doesn't understand that you needed to know what it was like to drive 120 mph so that you could write about it.

Or your husband who is trying to have adult conversations with you.

Sometimes, Zach looks at me and goes, "What's wrong?"

And I say, "Nothing."

And he says, "Something is wrong. You've been staring at the wall for twenty minutes."

And then I have to tell him, "Oh, I was just thinking about a story I'm considering writing in two years."

That's embarrassing.

What's worse is when it happens with someone who is not your husband.

And if the voices weren't screaming and shouting in your head, you could think of something clever to stay. Instead, you freeze up and fumble around for something that makes sense and when nothing does you just smile and say, "What?" And then you change the subject as quickly as you can. Usually by saying, "I'm going to use your name in my next book."

That always distracts people. You readers. You're so vain.

8. You will never be taken seriously.

Never again.

Like I said earlier, I really thought I was going into this professional career. I thought I would be this responsible adult that did fancy things, such as give interviews, and speak to elementary classes and write in my fancy office, with a fancy desk, in fancy clothes, drinking fancy coffee.

Instead, and as I've said, I rock out ratty, old sweats, at my discount desk with my Costco-couponed coffee. I'm not exactly the poster child for fabulous.

And while all that is true, I still hoped to hide some of that bitter reality behind lots of books and mild success. I thought for sure, I would be accepted as a true grown up. I belong in the real world now. I have a career.

A career people.

That implies I've committed to this job for my life. Or at least.. part of my life.

I should be able to walk into a room and people should look at me and recognize that I am a peer, a fellow thirty-something and I have my shit together.

Damnit.

None of that is true.

People don't take writer's seriously. Well, except for maybe my mom.

I get two reactions when I tell people what I do for a living. The "Oh, I always wanted to write a book" response. As if it's the easiest thing in the world and a fourth grader could do it. And that I don't spend hours of my overly-emotional life pouring into stories and plots and characters. And like I don't need maybe therapy sessions, three days a week for the rest of my life.

And the second reaction, my personal fave... the blank stare. The "What did she say?" response. They're thinking, "She can't be serious. She doesn't really think that's a job.. does she? Oh, my gosh, that poor, poor girl. She actually thinks writing is a real job. Oh, I feel so bad for her. Oh, no, she must be really messed up. Like, really messed up. I better give her a hug."

And then they hug me! And I hate hugs!!!

And I get to hate hugs, because I'm a writer and I'm eccentric!!!!

My own kids don't even take me seriously. My five year old looked at me the other day and said, "So... how much longer do you think you'll do this book thing?"

That's a true story folks.

From the mouth of babes, right?

I said, "Forever probably."

She said, "Ooooh... Mommy, I don't want to be a writer when I grow up."

I said, "Bless you, darling. Bless you."

9. The romance is dead.

I mean, it's not completely dead. You still have to think up romantic moments for characters, don't you?

What I mean, is in real life. It dies. And it becomes... like so many other things... research.

Instead of saying, "Hey, baby, meet me upstairs in five minutes." You start saying phrases like, "Hey, kiss me from this angle, I want to see if it's sexy." Or, "Hey, try sucking on my tongue. They keep talking about it in the books I've been reading and I want to know if it's as hot as they say."

And then your significant other says, "Did you just ask me to suck your tongue?"

And you're all. "Uh, yes. They do it all the time in books."

And then he says, "That's not a real thing."

And you say, "But they do it in books!!!! Obviously, we've been kissing wrong this ENTIRE time."

And then your significant other will look around the room at your four children and say, "Pretty sure we're doing something right, babe."

And then it might dawn on you, that you're reading a little too literally.

Between the personal hygiene dilemma, the path you have to forge between piles of dirty laundry and dust in order to get to your bed already covered in discarded clothes and stacks and stacks of books, romance becomes something like fiction.

Good thing those married to writers enjoy researching as much as we do!!!

And.

10. You are choosing to be judged for the rest of your life.

That's what you want to do for a living. It's not to write these amazing stories in your head or tell a tale that's never been told before.

There might be good intentions in there somewhere and noble ambitions at the start, but what you're really doing, what you're really signing up for, is basically to put your soul on paper, put it in the center of a Roman Colosseum and ask the people at large to stab it repeatedly until you just bleed out.

It's lovely.

I mean, this is the stuff dreams are made of, folks.

And I'm not kidding.

Who, in their right mind, chooses this life? Who pours their heart and soul into something and becomes so emotionally invested in their manuscript that they physically ache when their characters are hurt and weep when they die, and then puts it for sale for a few bucks and asks you to give it a rating based on a measly five stars???

Obviously not sane people.

Or people that care about protecting their self-worth and confidence.

I ask myself this question with every release. And on the cusp of Heir of Secrets publishing tomorrow, I am convinced that I am legitimately crazy.

I love that story. I love the whole series. And it's not this platonic, breezy kind of love that I throw at like a new kind of Oreos or a favorite new jam on the radio. No. This love is REAL. I cried over this book, people! Big, ugly, soul-wrenching tears. I have anxiety over it. And not just the release, but the actual story. It's giving me an ulcer. I feel the characters. I dream about them. I spend hours of my day thinking about them. They have consumed my life for months and I have invested all of that into a story that I believe in with everything that I am.

And tomorrow, it's going to go on sale. For five dollars. Less than five dollars. And people are going to hate it.

Sure, people will love it. (Hopefully. Dear God, let somebody love it.) But there are going to be people that hate it too.

And there are going to be people that start to read and can't make themselves finish it. (Which is much worse than the people hating it.)

And there are going to be people that say ugly things about it and about me and about my characters and there is nothing I can do about it because THIS IS WHAT I ASK THEM TO DO!!!

It's what I signed up for! It's part of this dream job I love so much.

But WHY?? I don't hate myself. I actually pretty much love myself. And I like feeling confident. And I like things like self-esteem and positive self-worth and a healthy view of myself. So, then, why in the world do I do this to myself??? Multiple times a year???

It makes no sense.

It really doesn't.

The only thing I can think of is some kind of Alice-in-Wonderland-esque pill. Or Matrix scenario. We all chose the wrong pill. We all took the red pill or the blue pill when we were supposed to take the green one!

And now we're trapped in an alternate reality where we ask you to judge us and rip us apart and write scathing reviews and attack us very (and some might say, uncalled for) personally.

Once the wailing and gnashing of teeth are over, we scrape the debris of our shattered spirits back together, we carefully reconstruct the chunks of our heart that have broken off and we delicately piece ourselves into some semblance of who we used to be before we started this insane journey.

Then we do it all over again.

And what's worse? We convince other people to do it with us!

And we probably always will.

Because you know, if you're a writer, you love this job. Every part of it. Even all ten of those reasons not to. You can't help. It just is.

But you're okay with that. It's who you are.

You're a writer. Be proud of it.

Bonus Number.

11. Grammar and spelling.

Everyone thinks just because you're a writer, you should have a handle on every rule in the English language there is, was and ever will be.

That is not the truth.

We pay people to learn those rules for us.

And for this blog, I neither hired an editor nor had access to a spell check. So don't judge me.
             



  


Rachel

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

3 comments:

  1. Jasmine Smith-ClarkJuly 23, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    I absolutely love this! It is all so sarcastically true and I've never even been published! lol. I love your humor and your self-deprecating sarcasm, but your creations make all of the "suffering" worthwhile. As one of your dedicated readers, I can promise you that the all-encompassing hell that you put yourself through is completely worth it for us, I appreciate your hump, your expanding bum and your various writer induced pains because for a couple hours, I am able to escape my self-induced stay-at-home-mom insanity. My crazy world disappears when I fall helplessly into the craziness that pours forth from your mind. I love it and to all those that don't, they can rot in the stacks of their local libraries looking for the next thing to bash for all I care! You are incredible and I thank you for it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love your craziness and will love tomorrow's book,so anxious that I'm having problems to sleep!
    Always wondered how are priced determined? Why is it 5$ and not 12$ for example?

    ReplyDelete
  3. THIS... was awesome.

    Thank you for being so real, and so honest. And still love being a writer.

    ReplyDelete