Once upon a time, I was a normal person, just like you or your buddy or your boss. I woke up, ate my fucking Wheaties, caught the school bus and went to my after school job. Then I screamed “FUCK THIS!,” toppled a table to demonstrate my rage and walked out of that life.
I’ve been a professional writer since I was 15 years old. What this means is that I’m probably not the best reference for what it’s like to be a writer — because I’ve never been anything else, unless you count that 9 1/2 year stint as a Realtor (which, honestly, isn’t much different). Those disclosures being made, I’m really fucking sick of what people expect this life to be, so I’m going to walk you through my day.
A Day in the Life
I get up at the crack of fucking dawn. It’s still dark outside this time of year and that just blows my mind and pisses me off. While eat my breakfast (oatmeal with a tablespoon of butter — don’t judge) and get ready for the day, I’m already checking my social media and emails and shoving things around on my calendar. I feed my little Android pigs (really), feed the fish (real fish), pat the dogs and go sit down at my desk.
All morning I’m scheduling meetings, talking to potential clients, building up blog posts for this fucking blog and feeding my social media. I have an alarm that goes off at 10 am for my second round of pain meds that typically also alerts me to the giant amount of non-writing I’ve done so far. Since I have lunch at 11, this is usually when I do a good deal of fucking around.
After lunch, I sit back down and I start to bang out copy. Sometimes nothing comes and I fucking scream and pound the keys and thrash around like a bug that’s been crushed until the words shake lose. My telecommuting husband finds this quite disturbing. Once all the theatrics are done, I write. And I write. And I write. Until the alarm goes off at 5:30 pm.
During that time I’m writing, I’m not thinking grand fucking fancy thoughts, I’m not smelling my own farts, I’m not elevating humanity to new levels. None of that shit is happening. Like a runner (I assume), I’m putting one key in front of the other, building outlines in my head and fucking writing. This is what this life is: accounting and writing and booking your own gigs.
There are a lot of days, too many of them some months, where all I do is administrative bullshit. In fact, I still have to my fucking taxes and send out 1099s to writers who have worked for me. This is what the writing life is. It’s a real job, it’s a small business, it’s a skill. And that’s the same whether you’re writing web content or crafting a literary masterpiece.
I don’t know how hard I have to pound his idea in your heads. Writing is work. It’s a job. It’s not sexy, it never ends and even when you go to bed, you’re still thinking about what you have to do tomorrow to keep up with the never-ending flow. Few of us get to be JD Salingers — even Stephen King isn’t a JD Salinger (and frankly, The Catcher in the Rye is one of the biggest piles of shit I’ve ever read) — and we can’t afford to lock ourselves away to write a one and only novel that makes us famous in countries we’ve never even heard of and rich enough to never work again.
So, in short: The words are endless, hunting for new work is endless, your life isn’t your own, you give your soul away for nickels on the dollar and yet, you’ll undoubtedly form some weird attachment to the life. #TheWritingLife isn’t glamorous, it’s not intellectual and profound, it’s just work. If you’re considering leaving a 9 to 5 for this, I highly recommend that you screw yourself back down to your fucking cubicle and get over it.