Writing is not glamorous.
I don’t know if there’s anyone left who thinks it is glamorous, but since there are apparently still people who think writers are all rich (excuse for a minute while I try really hard to stop laughing), I bet there are also people who believe in the glamor.
Don’t get me wrong. I love writing (except when I hate it). I’m glad I’m a writer. It suits my personality and my interests like nothing else I’ve discovered. But I don’t love it because it’s glamorous. I love it because I love story and characters and thinking hard and messing about with words and plot points and how is this emotional arc going and playing with index cards and taping them all up on my closet like some very strange modernist piece of art.
There is a little bit of glamor. Occasionally I dress up and go to an awards ceremony that most of the world doesn’t know is happening. I’ve met a few writers I really admire. In my book club, when we were talking about the motivations of the author this one time, I could say, “Well, I’m friends with her, and these were the points that seemed most important to her.” But this isn’t the bulk of my experience.
Talking about being a writer isn’t glamorous at all. People want to tell you about how they think they could be a writer (Awesome! Go do it.) or they had this one idea and why don’t you use it and split the profits (No thanks, I have plenty of my own ideas) or what about that self-publishing thing they read one article about that one time? They want to talk about the money involved, which I pretty much NEVER want to talk about, or they want to talk about what other job I have, which I also pretty much NEVER want to talk about. They want to know what I have published, even though even if I had a novel out, odds are they wouldn’t have heard of it. They want to tell me how they don’t read, or they used to read, or how their friend’s cousin’s husband’s mother is also a writer. Some of this is fine, some of it is less fine, but none of it is terribly glamorous.
Neither are the daily realities of being a writer. I used to spend large swathes of time in my pajamas until I moved and had to get dressed to take the dog out (although I have considered putting on a coat on top of my pajamas to get around this little problem). I sit at the computer for hours at a time, often not doing all that much. In fact, I’ve become a master starer. Also a master of switching to my browser window when I should be solidly in my word processor window.
I track word counts and pages and chapters and daily goals. I get worried if I’m not in possession of a sufficient quantity of blank index cards. I try to fix problems and then fail and eventually get frustrated and wander to the fridge, only to realize I’m not hungry. Then I go stare at the screen some more. Sometimes I stop and think about how I spend my time, and I’m simultaneously thrilled at what I do and dumbfounded by how boring it all seems from the outside.
“What did you do today?” someone will ask, and I stare in confusion for a moment before saying, “Well, I wrote.” I decide to leave out the getting the mail and washing the dishes and hanging out with the dog and reading a bunch of articles that have nothing to do with anything I’m working on but are pretty interesting and checking to see when that movie I want to see comes out. My days are all very mundane, really. The excitement happens inside my head, completely out of view of the casual observer.
No, writing is not about glitter and wealth and fame. It’s not about slinky sequined dresses every day or eating caviar out of inappropriate stemware. It’s not easy or simple or painless or uniformly pleasant. It’s not about glamor.
It is, for me, about passion, and that’s something I find altogether more interesting.