I often am amazed that what people assume I do as an author and what I actually do are two completely different things. I know I've blogged about it before but I need to do it again since it's on my mind once more. When I tell people that I'm an author words like wow, exciting, cool and amazing get thrown around. Of course then there is usually a statement about how whoever I'm talking to has always wanted to write a book. The fact is my life isn't really exciting or that amazing, it sometimes has a few wow moments but generally it's not what you think it is.
Today for example I'm sitting in front of the computer typing, just like many people do in their everyday jobs. That will be my day, a solitary typist sitting at her desk and talking to herself (or the characters in my head) as she tries to work out what words go together to form a coherent story that people may like. I've been awake since 5.30 a.m. I've been working since I woke and I'll continue to work until I decide my day is over (usually around 6 p.m. or the likes). I'll take a break from the screen and tapping away at the keyboard for lunch or cuppas, but not from thinking about my work. You see whether I'm in front of the computer or going out for groceries or cooking a meal, the characters are always there, the current book is always on my mind. It's all consuming.
Now I'm not saying there aren't advantages to working as I do, one of them being I'm at home. So again today, for example, I'm sitting in my PJ's, rugged up in a blanket with my fluffy slippers on as I construct this blog. I didn't have to brave the cold (yes it's winter in Australia) or get dressed, put on makeup, do my hair and arrive at an office by a designated time. Sometimes I'll sit in my jammies all day and work because it doesn't matter how I look, I won't see another soul.
Being an author is a solitary business, which for the most part suits me. Even promoting your book is a solitary activity. In the modern ebook era if I do an interview or a book tour as a way of promotion it's done from home, mostly over the internet. I get the interview questions or design a blog post and email it away to whomever and then wait for the information to go live in cyber town. When Finding Angel was released I did a blog tour. It amused me that I could actually 'appear' all around the world all from the comfort of my then office in the Southern Highlands of N.S.W, Australia. As part of the promotional activities, there may, or may not, be discussion on the blog or website the information appears on, so I keep an eye on that in order to respond if necessary, but the activity is still void of human contact. We're all cyber identities conversing via electronic means from our own little worlds.
The other misconception people seem to have about being an author is that I'm rich, or at least make an income that supports me in the lifestyle they believe I lead. The opposite is true. I'll need a lot more publications before I can even claim to make a modest living from writing. Most authors, including me, have alternate sources of income that pays the bills. Whether that be a partners income, a regular day job or other money to keep them housed, clothed, fed and pay the bills. I'm not saying that I don't make any money from writing but it certainly doesn't provide for my needs. The money from writing comes in, usually, on a quarterly basis, and it often goes back out on items like swag, competition prizes and other promotion like advertising to further sales in the next quarter. It doesn't take me on an overseas trip around the world, although I hope it will one day.
The other thing I try to inform my friends about my work is this. Just because I'm home doesn't mean I can go out or talk on the phone for hours on end, I'm home because I'm working. Sometimes I almost feel rude about ignoring the phone or sending a text saying 'not can't go out I'm writing'. I realize many of my friends will understand but that doesn't mean I haven't lost some friends because of saying no or ending a phone call before they are ready for it to finish. Sometimes even plans I've made change. Recently I'd set the day aside to go out with a girlfriend to the movies. I'd been working flat out and the words had been flowing at a great rate. When Friday morning arrived the words were still pouring out of me and I didn't want to stop the flow, so I rang her and said I'm not going out I'm staying home to write. She understood and agreed if I was on a roll then I should stick to it, but unfortunately that isn't the case with everyone. The plain and simple truth is, if I don't write I don't make any money, so I need to prioritize the time to get the next book out.
One of my favorite things (not) that friends have said is, 'but I saw you on Facebook so I know you aren't working'. Well, actually, yes I am. Authors do their own promotion and networking via the world of social media. I don't use it for fun, although some of the thing that happen and conversations I have when I'm on there can be fun, but it's not the reason I log in. I'm updating my author page, I'm talking with readers, authors and publisher...I'm making a living (well except when I play Candy Crush, then I'm just frustrating myself...grr).
I should just clarify that I'm not writing this blog to complain or bitch about being an author. I wouldn't change what I do for the world, it's the love of my life at the moment (yep, no love interest on the horizon) and I'm thankful I have the opportunity to do it. I'm mainly blogging about this so that people have a better idea of what my job is actually like.
If you're thinking of being an author then great, do it, but don't go into it thinking it's the be all and end all to happiness and an exciting life. It's a job, just like any other. Sometimes there's the wow moments but mostly it's a quiet, solitary lifestyle that brings more personal fulfillment and joy than monetary gain or notoriety.
So, author friends, have you been faced with misconceptions about what you actually do that frustrates you? And, readers friends (I know sometimes we are both) do you have anything you've ever wondered about a authors life that you'd like to ask but never been game? I'll try to answer anything as honestly as I can.
Have a great day everyone.