The Life of a Loser Writer
As I sit here, gumming my breakfast of cottage cheese and peaches, I’m feeling a little “off.” Whether that feeling is due to the root canal I had yesterday, or the splinter in my index finger, causing me to type funny, is anyone’s guess. The thing is, it’s one of those days.
Either I can give up and read all day, or I can bravely soldier on, typing with the hunt and peck method, sans my right index finger. (Sheesh, I couldn’t even play “chopsticks” on the piano today.) But I’m a writer. It’s what I do, day in, day out, rain or shine, three-hundred and something days a year. I might miss a few days for an illness or family holidays. It’s rare though.
Okay, I just made my fifth typo in this short article. I’m now weighing the frustration of typing like this vs. the frustration of not writing at all. Ah, hell. I’ll keep going.
Many writers think I’m “prolific.” I laugh because even on a good day, I type about seventeen words per minute. The truth is, I never learned to type, but I can’t not write. (Pardon the double negative.) Many writers know exactly what I’m talking about. If you think I’m feeling “off” now, imagine me on a day without writing! It’s such a habit, that without it, I’m apt to wander around bumping into things, because I don’t know what to do with myself.
Stephen King says he usually lies in interviews and claims to write every day except Christmas and Easter…but the truth is, he writes every day, three hundred sixty-five days a year. I guess he didn’t want to feel like a loser who can’t take a day off for family or friends. I know what he means, but that kind of obsession doesn’t make you a loser. It makes you an author. He even tried to retire a few years ago—and couldn’t.
I have friends coming from the other side of the world to spend a week in our guest room soon, and I’m looking forward to seeing these wonderful people, yet I’m also trembling as I predict hours away from my keyboard. If that makes me a loser, so be it. I’m a loser.
But considering I wouldn’t even know my Australian friends if it weren’t for writing, I have to say I’ve gained far more than I’ve lost. I have friends and fans all over the world now. My friend Rebecca is an author whose talent of handling description without bogging down the pace captured my attention. I wrote to her and told her about my admiration for her writing. Soon she was critiquing for me. Not long after that, I was returning the favor and critiquing for her. The bonus was how much I enjoyed getting an early peek at her stories.
You’d be surprised how well writers connect, even with very little else in common. I’m almost twenty years older than my Aussie friend. She writes coming of age stories for children and I write hot, steamy love stories for adults. It doesn’t matter. We share the craft and business of writing along with the writer’s life.
Similarly, I have a local critique partner. We couldn’t be more different, personally, but I admired her writing and knew she could teach me a thing or two. She writes historical romances, and mine are always set in a contemporary time period. But when she put out a call for a critique group or partner I was right there, raising my hand.
If anything, she’s more dedicated than I am. She knows how to type and puts my daily word count to shame. Next month we’re heading to a writer’s convention together. I imagine we’ll find time to write in our room, even with all kinds of scheduled events going on. We’ve worked on our books simultaneously before. She lives about an hour away, and we both hate to drive in the city. So, I catch a ride with my husband, whose office is across the courtyard from her condo. Our critiques take maybe three hours, tops. After that, we sit side by side and write.
Hey, look at me. I’ve written an entire blog article with an aching gum and throbbing finger. It just underscores my point. If you’re a loser like me and can’t not write, you just might be “prolific.”