Friday, November 4, 2011

What They Didn't Tell Us (About Being A Writer)

I adore author and speaker Rachel Held Evans and I read her blog regularly. She doesn't usually talk much about writing, but today she posted about the things she never knew when she was a little girl attending writing camps for kids and dreaming about one day becoming an author. Some of the lines really resonated with me:

They didn’t tell me that I’d be working in my pajamas most of the time.

(c) Horia Varlan
They didn’t tell me how lonely this work can be.

They didn’t tell me that I’d go from loving my manuscript to categorically abominating it within a matter of hours. 

They didn’t tell me that this work—this life—would become such a part of who I am that even when it makes me crazy, I need it like I need water and sunlight and love. 

It's so true . . . especially the love-to-hate bit. That is exactly where I am right now.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, and happy writing, NaNoers!


  1. "They didn’t tell me how lonely this work can be."

    When I got into writing, I absolutely loved the solitary nature of the work. After all, working with others can be a pain in the butt.

    But having been writing for a year, it really is lonely. The worst part is that I've started associating "home" with "loneliness." :(

  2. Hate to love to hate to love... Yeah, I hear you.

  3. Great bit of truth. They didn't tell me that I'd feel more than lonely, left out of the club at times by those who I thought would be the most supportive. But, I can't stop now. Thanks for the reminder that we all struggle with this beast of a career.

  4. JJ: I felt the same way. I LOVE working alone, because I worry about being dominant in a group, and I tend to have my own ideas about doing things. But after months/years of it, I do get lonely. Crit partners and other writer friends have proved invaluable for me in staving off the loneliness.

  5. Connie: *sighs* Especially once I reach the 2nd or 3rd draft of something. I can't tell if it's awful or not.

    Charlie: Writing is such a struggle, isn't it? But it's kind of a beautiful struggle. I can't stop now, either. Best wishes for you and your own work/path.

  6. Just that brief is a great sentiment. Clicking over to read her blog. Thanks!

  7. Talk about first world problems.

    They didn’t tell me that I’d be working in my pajamas most of the time (or I would have picked a more comfortable outfit).

    I went over to her blog to get the context, and wow. "They never told me I wouldn't be working a job!" Yeah, there's a reason they never told you that. In fact, most people assume writing is more job-like, when the "they never told me" reality is most people have to pay their own rent.

    I love Jason's tactful comment.

    They didn't mention that, even 12 books into a career, you'd still consider writing to be a really time-consuming side gig. And you'd have another full-time job to pay the bills. :)

    God bless the smiley face.

  8. And I guess I can see an unsnobby interpretation of that being: "I imagined getting dressed and going to a desk to write, but actually I'm writing from bed in my pajamas." But it just reads so "Pajamas are so uncomfortable, LOLZ." For the 99% of us who don't get paid to write and don't get a meal ticket from anyone else, it's absurd.

  9. Jaimie: I think you've completely misinterpreted the context of her comment. I think she was referring to what she was wearing to the writer's conferences (like in the picture, where she's dressed up in a suit). WHEREAS if she'd known she'd do must of her writing in pjs, she wouldn't have picked such a "professional" but uncomfortable outfit to wear to those conferences. Rachel is a gracious, funny person and I can't imagine that she's being anything but tongue-in-cheek here.

  10. (continued, @Jaimie) I get that interpretation because nobody in their right mind thinks pajamas are uncomfortable when compared to professional clothing. PJs are practically the definition of comfort.

    Also, I confess I'm confused about what you think Jason's comment is implying. (I don't think he was passively-aggressively saying that she needs to get a job to pay her bills or that she doesn't contribute to her family's bank account, if that's what you were saying. I think he is referring to himself, and that smiley is probably more of a commiserating wince)... Rachel is a pretty well-known women's speaker, and I daresay she makes a lot of money doing it. Her books have gotten a lot of good attention too (she had a thing up a few weeks ago with her "book tour" interviews, and it featured some pretty big TV networks and magazines, like Oprah's network, whatever it's called now, and, and some others.) Basically I'm saying she doesn't "get a meal ticket" from her husband, which seemed to be what you were implying.

    Long comment, ah!! I just think you misunderstood the spirit of her post, and mine in linking to it!

  11. It's true I don't read her blog regularly enough to know anything about her spirit in order to understand any kind of "spirit of her post."

    I can see what the PJ thing is referring to now. However, I do think Jason's comment is a little jab. (At least, if I wanted to be snarky in a comment to her, that's exactly how I would have done it.) Honestly, whenever we folk with full time jobs hear about writers without full time jobs making jokes about pajamas, well. You want to be snarky. It happens.

    I visited a friend two weeks ago. She told me she has to wear super nice clothes to work. Like: skirts, slacks, heels, jewelry. I could wear jeans to my job every day and no one would care. Did I hide that fact from her? No, we're friends. You can talk about different situations with friends. We're mature and "shit happens" as they say. What starts to get snotty is when you make these "no one ever told me in college I would be able to wear jeans every day to work!" statements in front of them.

  12. Jaimie: We'll just have to agree to disagree, I guess!! I really really don't think Rachel is trying to be snotty, and I certainly wasn't trying to be. I think maybe you're taking it as a "I get to work in my pajamas, let me rub that in your face" but I think (I KNOW when I say it, I mean it this way) it's a "I didn't realize being a writer would make me feel like such a slacker... am I the only one who feels this way?"

    Anyway, as a writer without a full-time job (who wants one), I would love to be in your pajama-less position!

  13. Yeah, I was taking it as a kind of rub-it-in way. When it's standing alone like that, without explanation, yeah...

    Well as a writer with a full-time job, and I think I can speak for most of us, it'd be much better to write and read all day. Although I do like the change of scenery, and the money. Grass is greener.

  14. Grass is ALWAYS greener, man! But such is life, ya know? :)


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