That's what The Voices say.
And I don't understand. I have a job. I'm a writer.
My thirteenth novel is coming out in May and my fourteenth will be published the following spring. Writing is my job. It's a job that I love, but it's still a job. And I'm mystified: Why do I have to defend this?
There seems to be a misconception that because you enjoy something, it isn't work and you shouldn't do it. I don't want that to be true. I think the thing you love to do is the thing you should do, that you were meant to do. Period.
The trouble, of course, with writing, is the sporadic nature of the paycheques. But they do come. Contracts exist, money flows in fits and starts. It does. Really.
I don't want to defend my choice, my life. My life's work. But I hear The Voices asking, usually behind my back, "Why doesn't she get a real job?"
I am always working.
Measuring time available against words needed.
Parsing out schedules of editing and creating.
I want to explain to The Voices that what I do IS a real job. I want to rent out a conference room, wear a suit, and have The Voices sit around on swivel chairs with yellow legal pads on their laps, listening. I want to make pie charts and graphs that show how this effort, here, now, pays off on this date in the future. I want them to take notes. I want them to understand that the million steps between an idea and a book, a concept and a paycheque, are all as much "work" as any other profession. Not with a neat benefits package and a regular paycheque but ultimately, the pay off is better. Literally and figuratively. For me.
I want to stand at the front of the room, looking official, with a whiteboard behind me, and I want to explain that what makes this work harder than anything is knowing that all the hundreds and hundreds of hours that I put into a book before it is published are just hours that are viewed as a "waste" by people who don't understand that writers are doing a job, their job. That there is more to the job than making up stories. There is also the work of crafting the story. There is promotion and marketing. There is a process. Drafts and rewrites. Edits. Sales.
This IS work. And if we all stopped and got a "real job", then ... what? I, for one, wouldn't want to live in a world with no writers. Would YOU?
Then I want to say, "I'm sorry if you don't like it, but my name is Karen, and I am a writer. And I don't need to get a "real job", because I've already got one."
And then I want to ask The Voices nicely if they could be quiet.
I am trying to work.