A Writer’s Lament

In Rebecca Drake’s wonderful suspense novel, Only Ever You, there’s an interchange over dinner between Jill, the protagonist, and an older partner at her husband’s law firm. He inquires as to what she does, and she tells him she’s a photographer. He says that must be “fun.” She thinks to herself that the people in her husband’s world regard her career as “a fantasy job, something they assumed could be done with little or no effort or training.”

The partner goes on to say that he’s always wanted to take up photography. Perhaps he’ll do that when he retires.

Jill responds, “What a coincidence—I’m thinking of taking up law when I retire.”

I’m not a photographer, but as a fulltime writer, I loved Jill’s tart retort. I can sure relate. I’ve lost count of the folks who tell me that they’d “love to write a book if they only had the time—maybe when they retire.” It doesn’t seem to occur to them that there might be just the teensiest bit of work, study, and consistent “butt-in-chair” writing time involved.

I also get the “You must be having so much fun” comment a lot. I do love what I do, and yes, it can be fun, but it’s work. Hard work. Not what I think non-writers imagine— that I’m lounging around the house all day in my jammies snacking on bonbons and periodically making notations in my leather-bound journal “when inspiration strikes.”

Okay, the jammies part might be true, and if anyone wants to send me bonbons, I’d be delighted. And I’m sure there are writers with leather-bound journals. But where you can find me is usually at my desk in front of my computer screen. The truth is inspiration usually comes once I’m in the midst of working, not before. And when inspiration doesn’t make an appearance, I still show up for work.

Some days, I feel like that old Rodney Dangerfield line: “I don’t get no respect.” But then again, I used to feel that way when I was a professional dancer. Maybe it’s the curse of being in the arts and pursuing creative work.

Cursed or not, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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