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?