Sunday, October 14, 2012

What's your real job?

Sometimes, when I tell people I’m an author, they get this kind of look in their eyes. It’s usually followed by something like, You’re so lucky you get to work from home! It would be so cool to watch TV all day! 


And sometimes it’s followed by silly questions like, Do you have a real job, too?
Writing is a real job. It’s my only job. This is a full time gig for me, and even though I love it, it’s still work

Definition of Work
1. exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.
2. something on which exertion or labor is expended; a task or undertaking.
3. productive or operative activity.
4. employment, as in some form of industry, especially as a means of earning one's livelihood: to look for work.
5. one's place of employment

I may not have to deal with rush hour traffic every day or trek to the car in two feet of snow during the winter, but that doesn’t make it any less challenging or stressful.
I’m generally at my desk between 6 and 7 each morning, and other than an hour or so for lunch, am usually there until midnight—sometimes longer. There’s a lot to do. The obvious—the writing. But there’s also editing, plotting, synopsis and query writing, emails to answer, social media to stay on top of, interviews and blog posts to write…

*comes up for air*

A friend once said to me being author must be awesome because you sit at your desk all day because you can watch funny dog videos or play Warcraft. Think of all the daytime TV!

I’m not sure about the other authors out there, but I don’t have time for those things. Luckily daytime TV never interested me, and while I will admit to getting distracted at times by other things around the house, I can proudly say I have willpower of steel! Okay. Not entirely true. There might occasionally be a funny dog video stuffed in there.

But only occasionally.


The popular misconception about working from home is that it’s easy. Yes. Most of the time when you’re working from home, you can make your own hours. This is sometimes awesome, but also has serious disadvantages. See, when you love your job as much as I do, and work is only a few rooms away, it’s hard to take a real day off. I can’t speak for anyone other than me, but I find it impossible to walk away. Even on the holidays, my brain is like, I can squeeze in a few minutes before company gets here, or Well I’ll just get a chapter or two done while you hit the food store. And those middle of the night sparks of inspiration? I can’t tell you how many times in the beginning (he’s used to it now) my husband came downstairs at 4 a.m. and found me glued to the computer with no concept of time.

Then there’s the stress. Everyone’s job has it. Being an author is no different. Trust me. Will the readers like my next book? Will my agent? What about my editor and the reviewers? I don’t think I’ve ever met an author that didn’t stress about how their work would be received by the public. That epic project you’ve been obsessed with at the office for the last six months and are about to unveil to your boss? Yeah. Same thing. There’s business travel (conferences and out of town signings). I’m a homebody at heart. Leaving my husband and four-legged kids behind is hard—but it’s part of my job and needs to be done sometimes. And deadlines? Don’t even get me started…

So you see, we’re just like everyone else—except maybe just a tad more caffeinated with weird sleeping patterns and conversations with people who aren’t really there. What about you guys? What stresses you out at your job?


Kristin Lenz said...

It sounds like you need a vacation, Jus! I hope you at least get to take some nice nature walks with your four-legged kids.

Kurt Hampe said...

First, I tip my hat to you for having the enthusiasm and following through by doing the work.

In one capacity or another, I've worked from home for years. Some folks assume I do nothing, others think I'm free to entertain them on the phone. One of the stranger consequences is being free in the middle of the day to let in a repair man. Imagine the look on the guy's face when he comes to my house to repair the refrigerator, and I--another guy--open the door. He gets to the "what do you do?" question really quickly. The cool ones want to talk about what they do for a creative outlet. The others go real quiet. A guy? Who writes? From home? Weird.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I have a neighbor say to me on Friday as she was getting into her car: At least YOU don't have to go to work.

Hmmm. Someone was having a bad day. What irked me was that she only has to put in her 40 hours a week and that's it. My last job involved 50 + hours a week, and I was away from home a lot (which sucks when you have young kids). Now, as a writer, I put in 60 + hours (including holidays) with all the things that come with writing (including social networking).

Lisa Tapp said...

For me, one of the hardest parts of being a writer is that there are no clear directions. Yes, I have to invest the time to write, plot, edit, etc. But there's no true authority that says if you do 'this' it will be perfect. Same with the promotional side. I know my goal, but the options to reach it are unlimited, and not each one works for me. In my other job - nursing - there are more finite rules. If this happens, I do this. Not as much guessing. Still, I wouldn't give up the writing for anything. Thanks, Jus.