~~~Every now and then I feel like an alien living in my home. Often misunderstood, mostly tolerated and usually hidden away. When family members are asked what I do, their voices tend to lower, they avert their eyes and finally, after shuffling their feet, whisper in a clandestine tone – “She’s a writer”. Their words are spoken in the same clandestine tone you might whisper of the black sheep of the family who is currently serving time in prison.
~~~Non-writers just don’t understand that a writer must write in order to breathe. This is not something we simply choose to do, this is something we must do. I will sit for hours at my desk in front of my computer screen and pummel my keyboard. If the power goes out, I emit a terrifying yowl as if someone were cutting off my fingers. My characters become as real to me as the nephew I send a birthday card to.
~~~I will find myself immersed in emotion as I put tearful words into the dialogue, I will laugh uncontrollably as I type a conversation between humorous characters, I will ponder for hours as I help a heroine through her dramatic dilemma. The words on paper, or on my computer screen, are no longer mere letters – they are thoughts, actions, deeds, misfortunes, passion, pleas and life and death deciding moments.
~~~I become fully entrenched in the lives of my fictional characters and the line between my day to day existence becomes fuzzy. Just one more thought before I get up to tend to some droll household chore – just one more thought turns to pages. I dream for my characters, I try to think like they do, I worry about them and sometimes I even become them. Other writers understand this obsession – non writers do not.
~~~The excitement over a book signing, even when the sales are disappointing, the thrill of seeing your name emblazoned on a book cover jacket and the joy of reading words you once imagined now immortalized in black and white are all things a writer can appreciate. We are willing to put hours of our lives into sitting and typing while we are never sure that the finished product will actually pay off. Offers of publication, distribution and virtual tours may seduce us out of our savings.
~~~The employee who appreciates regular bi-weekly direct deposits into their bank account doesn’t understand how we can manage on infrequent royalties, long overdue invoice payments and, shudder, occasional kill fees. The “others” wonder how we can stand to just “give it away” when we submit to free-ezines and non-paying web-logs just to get our names out there. And of course no bank will understand that a contributor copy of a magazine is indeed payment.
~~~The public image of an eccentric writer with a feather boa around her neck investing her mammoth royalty checks and being ferried to television appearances to promote the latest novel between spa visits may very well be a splendid fantasy; it sure isn’t real. And writers understand that. We know that the work just begins after we have typed “the end”. We actively search for agents and publishers, we partner with our publishers to market and promote, we maintain web-sites and solicit interviews to keep “the buzz” going.
~~~Some of us may have to work at other jobs in order to support our writing habit – some may be fortunate enough to have forty or more hours a week to put into our writing. No matter what our circumstances may be, we need to be creative when we write and we need to be pragmatic in our business. Right brain thought comes to a screeching halt in order to allow for the left brain sensibility. We cringe when our writing is called our hobby, we feel like screaming when we are asked “are you ever going to get a real job?”
~~~So we will all just muddle along writing and pouring our hearts into every word. We will get our hopes up each time we submit a query and we will stop breathing for as long as it takes to open the returned SASE. Our spouses and kids will stand at our office doors and shake their heads as we tap-tap-tap obliviously. We’ll feel accomplished when we manage to string one-hundred words together in a project that will ultimately need seventy-five-thousand. It will be an honor beyond anything else we’ve done to sign a book or to receive a fan letter.
~~~…and a writer understands.~~~~~~~~Chelle Cordero is blessed to be a full-time writer and a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic. She has eight novels published with Vanilla Heart Publishing, short stories in three anthologies and numerous articles in various North American newspapers and magazines. Chelle also teaches an online writing course available through Kindle subscription.