Saturday, January 06, 2007

Put the fun back into writing

Recently Susan Hill blogged about how so many writers these days complain about the hard work and misery of their chosen career.
And in among all manner of different comments and counter-comments, confessions and questions and answers and pieces of advice, one thing struck me and this was how painful the whole thing seemed to be. How much angst, anguish, worry, striving, fear of failure, self-flagellation and goodness knows what else which indicated that almost none of these people are ENJOYING WRITING.
I have to wonder if they're making all of this misery up. I mean, look: writing is a profession where you get to sit in your pyjamas and eat chocolate all day while you let your imagination go doolally. It's fantastic. It's the best job in the world! The only miserable part about it is the pay. And all those stroppy people who write bad reviews. And the times when you're a week past deadline and have no frickin' clue how the damn book is going to end.

But for the most part, writing is fun. As the great Terry Pratchett said, it's the most fun you can have by yourself. And to all those people who have such an agonising time of it, I have to say: dude, you want a badly-paid job you hate, go work at Blockbuster. Don't write for money. You'll never be rich. Even after ten books you won't be rich. Don't write for money. Ignore JK Rowling and Barbara Cartland. Don't write for money. Write because you love it. And if you don't love it, stop doing it, because your misery is annoying.

Although. Perhaps we should put the word out that writing is a horrible profession, hard gruelling work, whip-wielding editors, etc. Because otherwise people might think we actually do just sit around all day in our pyjamas eating chocolates. They might think it's not actually work at all. Certainly the pay reflects this (do I whinge about pay too much? Make it stop: buy my books). Because we're still influenced by those stupid Victorian rules that state anything enjoyable must be bad for you, and vice versa, people don't want to know that it's possible to do a job you really love.

I mean, think about it. You get up at 6.30, feed and wash and dress your kids, drive them to school, go to work, get a headache from the fluorescent lights, drink coffee that tastes like cardboard, devise new ways to kill your boss (or at least gag his whining nasal voice) come home in the rain, put on a load of washing, cook dinner, watch something mindless on TV, put the kids to bed, collapse with a glass of enamel-stripping cheap red wine, then fall into bed ready to do it all again. When you hear that I get up when I want to (except on Wednesday, when I'm rudely awakened by the dustmen) and can take time off to watch telly if I so desire, you must really hate me. And I don't want you to hate me. So I'll say what all those other clever writers say: Writing Is Hard Work And It Makes Me Miserable. There, do you like me better?

Anyway, on another note, my first newsletter of the new year is out, and you can access it here in pink, or here in purple. Speaking of Pratchett, there's a recommendation for Going Postal, as well as interviews with Alice Gaines and Michelle M. Pillow; my two latest covers, release dates, and other news snippets.


  1. I agree, I love my job for the very reasons you stated. I can were my pj pants all day, drink coffee and get paid to make things up.


  2. The pay sucks....

    The rest of it is pretty much divine....where else do we get to play Gods????

    Not to mention, the adorable furballs who keeps us and our muses company during the days ;)

    *pass the chocolate martini*

  3. Hear hear! K8, I'm so glad you realize how good you have it. I work a full-time job but that's because I have no one to support me but me. To me anyone who complains about full-time writing ought to work a mind-numbing day job where you have to deal with the public (like you did at Blockbuster).