I had a completely different idea for this post today, but yesterday's wonderful post by Maggie got me thinking about the writer's life.
When I think of the public's perception of the writer's life I always think of that wonderful romantic comedy starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, Something's Gotta Give. You know the movie? The one where Diane Keaton is this famous playwright (so famous that Keanu Reeves who plays a hunky doctor in the film recognizes her name instantly). She lives in this gorgeous beach house somewhere in the northeast,. The house is decorated all in white and is never dirty. She sits at her desk (which faces the ocean) sipping on red wine and types words into her computer that instantly flow from one page to the next. Of course, there is conflict in the film, but it doesn't stem from the fact that she's behind on her deadline (or her mortgage payments either).
This is the kind of the writer's life I want, damn it.
Unfortunately, I have the other kind. The kind that Maggie talked about yesterday that involves a day job, dirty laundry, and hoping behind hope that maybe one day someone will recognize your name because they have actually read your book.
So why keep writing? Why do we stay up way past our bedtime, give up watching tv at night or going to the park on Saturday to stay glued to our computer screens? Simple. Because we have to. If we wrote simply to get rich or become famous or live a glamorous life, no one would ever do it, because the writers who achieve that sort of level are few and far between. We write because we love writing. We love creating stories and characters that resonate with our readers. But writing is a lonely profession (even Diane Keaton looked a little forlorn sitting in that beautiful white chair facing the ocean) and I couldn't help thinking at times that what she needed was a writing buddy. Or maybe several. Because let's face it, if it wasn't for the friendship of other writers many of us would have given up long ago.
That's why I belong to RWA (Romance Writers of America) on the national level as well as a couple of local chapters. I belong to several online writing groups, and blogs (like this one). I Twitter with other writers, interact with them on Facebook and ask for their advice when I need it. I also try to be there when they need advice from me. The simple plain truth is that writers need other writers. Not just for networking (although networking is important) but we need the daily interaction of other writers to keep up our morale, improve our writing and to stay current in the business.
John Donne wrote "No man is an island..." And neither is any writer. The writing life we envision (whether it's Diane Keaton's life in the film or the fantasy of writing in a secluded cabin in the mountains) is for the most part, just that, a fantasy. It's not the reality for the majority of writers in America. And if you wait until you have the perfect environment or the perfect situation in which to write, you'll never get it done. Writing is messy work. It's done on the kitchen table, in the car waiting for kids to finish soccer practice and yes (as one writer in my local chapter told us today in our writers loop) while waiting on the gyno table for her annual pap. It's done in spurts or long segments in the wee hours of the morning. It's solitary work, but it's celebrated by other writers, our friends and comrades in paper who understand that life is messy and that we need one another to keep going. So thanks, friends! I write because I love doing it, but I keep doing it because I have your support.
Diane Keaton's kitchen from Something's Gotta Give. Sigh. Maybe one day!
Maria Geraci writes fun, romantic women's fiction. You can connect with her on her website at www.mariageraci.com.
The Boyfriend of the Month Club is immensely sexy, immensely satisfying and humorous.”
Portland Book Review