Writer versus Writing
November 10, 2010
Since today has been rather unproductive, I think I'll continue that trend and blog.
In yesterday's blog both Eric and Erica (not twins separated at birth as far as I know) both commented about being able to envision writing for the pleasure of it without worrying about publication.
Which I think brings up a fairly interesting topic.
As a nonfiction writer, I find that I love the writing as much as I love being a writer.
With fiction, I love the writing, but am far more ambivalent about being the writer.
A lot of that has to do with my writing lifestyle--I make a living at it, I spend my days in my basement office interacting with Internet ghosts, my keyboard, writing, controlling my own schedule mostly, and getting paid for the privilege. The rewards are many and the headaches are, well, few and manageable.
The fiction writing lifestyle, on the other hand, has few financial rewards (for me), and the marketing and "being an author" thing are time consuming and slightly outside my comfort zone (and have been for a while). The rewards tend to be intrinsic, the financial rewards to-date unimpressive, and the social rewards, to my mind, wildly overrated.
My first real publisher, High Country Publishing... I remember talking to my lovely editor there and discussing the whole book signing, bookstore visit, bookfair thing and I was making it clear that I was not wholeheartedly delighted with the process (to say the least). She commented that one of their other authors just loved it and she finished with, "Some people just like to play author."
I like to BE an author. I love to BE a writer. I LOVE writing.
But this out schlepping the public thing, Christ, I feel a tiny bit like a door-to-door salesman. I know that's just a quirk of my personality. I've never had a job (amazing, when you think about it) except when I worked as a paperboy, where I dealt with the general public. I worked as a piano and saxophone teacher, but that wasn't the general public. Otherwise I worked as a cook at Burger King, in food service washing pots and pans or dishes, worked in laboratories, mail rooms, etc.
On none of those jobs was I out front interacting with the general public. Maybe I would have benefitted from a good round of being a waiter or bartender, playing the smiley-face schmoozing bit, let's-talk-about-sports-and-the-weather. I think it's a skill that would have benefited me in book signings and things (and probably life in general, actually).
But that's just me. I think there are people who don't particularly like writing, but love the being an author thing--they love that end of things. I've run across a few writers who seemed to hate writing (which baffles me, because if you don't like it, for God sakes, there are easier and better ways to make a living). I've certainly met a lot of people who like the idea of HAVING WRITTEN a novel, but can't wrap their minds around the idea of WRITING A NOVEL.
How about you? Do you love writing? Do you love playing author?