Monday, February 25, 2013

Always a Writer

I had my first romance novel published by New Concepts Publishing almost six years ago. I had two children in middle school and two in high school. I was coaching field hockey and all my children were playing sports year round. Did I mention I was teaching full time also? I still don’t know where I found the time to write and edit that first book.

 Since that first book, I’ve had six more romances published and three epic fantasy novels. In the course of the next few months, I will have two more fantasy novels published and a new romance novel. My youngest two children are now in college and my responsibilities at home are much, much less than they were during the hectic times that first book came out.

 If someone had asked me six years ago what my career was I would have said I was a high school teacher. I’ll be retiring in June. Will I then answer that question as ‘a retired school teacher?’ Almost every writer I know also works at a ‘day’ job. Is that their career? Many of us love our day job, but is it our career? Teaching is one of my careers, but not the first one in my heart.

 Too many writers, me included, think of that day job as our career instead of calling ourselves writers. We’re writers all the time. How do you know you’re a writer?

 *You find those strange quirks in your relatives are perfect personality traits for one of the characters in your novel.

 *You watch the news and wonder how you can fit the depravities of your fellow man into the current antagonist you’re creating.

 *At a friend’s party you’re introduced to a new, lovely Chablis and figure out a way to work it into an intimate scene between your hero and heroine.

 *You’re flipping through a magazine in the dentist’s waiting room and come across a hot guy in a cologne advertisement. Looking around to make sure no one is watching, you stealthily tear out the page and put it in your pocket. You tack it up near your desk so you can refer to it as you create the hero of your next book.

 *Some posts a picture of a classic 1890’s wedding dress. You save the picture so you can describe the dress as the one your heroine wears on her wedding day.

 *You watch hours of the History channel as they describe medieval warfare or ancient superstitions. Oh, and those angels and demons segments or how about the specials on making bread in a stone oven or ancient cooking techniques over an open fire?

 *The patch of woods behind your house take on a sinister air. And is that large hawk actually a real raptor or something else? Is it watching your family?

 Writers see possible plot twists, interesting characters, and descriptive scenery everywhere. Being a writer isn’t a hobby one works on like a weekend warrior. The job is everyone and all the time. Ideas, plans and even the word we want to use in a scene, come to us at all times. In the middle of dinner, while watching a TV show, while negotiating traffic and often during those hours on the day job.

 My challenge to you and myself is to announce bravely to the world that we are writers. We’re writers all the time not only when we sit down at the keyboard. Even when I’m teaching those rowdy teenagers, I’m a writer. When I’m throwing together dinner for my husband and me, I’m a writer. Writing is a job that never takes a rest. Even we when say we’re taking a break, our typing muscles are the only thing resting. The next time someone asks what you do, tell them you’re a writer who also works at another job.

Can you add to the list of how you know you’re a writer? Do your fellow workers at the day job know you’re a writer? Even tear one of those ads out of a magazine?


  1. Nobody at my day job knows that I'm a writer. Not even my family know, only my husband. I just can't seem to get past that hurdle. One day ...

  2. No one at my job knew I was writing until my first book came out.

  3. I did not tell anyone at work I was a writer (and published) until the day I retired. (Boy, were they surprised!)

    It was a deliberate move though. I was in management and I didn't want my two careers mixing.

    This was the same reason I didn't go into cover design right away too. As an art director for a big company, it could be seen as a conflict of interest.

  4. At 46, I quit my job two years ago to begin this adventure. I still take big gulps when I describe what I do, but I'm becoming more comfortable in this skin.

  5. The history Channel is my one stop for all things needed for Medieval inspiration. :)

  6. Yeah why is it so hard to admit we are writers? I don't talk about my writing publically, they don't know about it at work either. I wait for the day I have to go in and ask for time off to go visit my Agent/publisher!!

  7. People ask me what I do, the first thing I say is I'm a professional speaker and author.

  8. When I hear people talk about how busy their lives are and they still manage to get published, I always feel a twinge of guilt. I have a lot of free time and still can't seem to get anything day, I suppose :)

    I agree...writing is a never ending process and, as I always like to say, I enjoy always asking "what if?"

  9. I've had to overcome my shyness to stand in the light, because I knew if I was going to make anything of my new career I would have to stand in front of large crowds and talk, read and listen.
    Now I walk up to strangers and chat about my writing. Most take a real interest, but if someone isn't interested I find you can tell quite quickly and I just walk away. If it means one more reader reads my work then I've got everything to play for.

  10.'ve been busy. You were definitely born to write because I'm loving your book. I got sick recently which made it so I couldn't get through as many stories as I'd like, but your fantasy keeps me going. It's one of the things I look forward to reading before bedtime.

  11. I guess I'm not the only one who kept my writing career on the downlow at work. Now most everyone knows including my students.

  12. I really love this post. I think I've done everything on your list. Especially thinking about possibilities in the woods and wondering about one bird or another.

  13. I'm just like this. I always find every day events to fit into my books. Do it all the time.

  14. I'm always working out my writing muscles even in my sleep. Not many people around me know I'm a writer, but I'm shy and don't talk much.

  15. You've accomplished a lot in the past six I find whatever time I can to write and edit because I usually don't have long chunks of uninterrupted time. But I'm constantly looking and plotting.

  16. Great post, Sue! Maybe someday I'll work up that courage to admit I'm a writer.

  17. I never had a problem thinking of myself as a writer, and was often confused when others did.

    You write, you're a writer.


  18. PS: Congrats on all that
    you've done over these
    years. Great stuff.

    Here's to many more good
    years for you and your
    writing. Cheers.