Thursday, September 22, 2011

The communion of other writers

 by Maria Geraci

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

The Boyfriend of the Month Club is immensely sexy, immensely satisfying and humorous.”
Portland Book Review


  1. As a fellow scribe (in a rather different genre) I couldn't agree more, and my kitchen looks nothing like Diane Keaton's either! Sigh. Where did I go wrong? But like you, I don't know what I would do without my writer buddies. (And one or two of them blog for the Stiletto Gang!)

    I love your home page's bold design so congrats on that. If I could make one request it would be to see your blog posts carry the writer's byline. I'm guessing this may be Evelyn writing today but I love to know whose voice I am hearing....just a suggestion! Stiletto Gang is a great, friendly destination. Keep up the good work!

  2. Maria, I totally agree. We would go insane without our writer buddies because they can so empathize with everything we go through. I adore my family and "civilian" friends, but they're not in the business so there's just some stuff that never comes up in our conversations. But with writer-buds, I can talk about the nuts and bolts and the frustrations that are so familiar to us all. Anyway, lovely post! And lovely Diane-Keaton-movie-kitchen (which looks nothing like mine either!)! I think I'd like that kitchen even better if it came with a healthy chef to prepare all my meals! Hey, a girl's gotta dream! :-)

  3. Hi Sue, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm so glad you enjoy the blog. The ladies here are terrific :)
    And thanks for reminding me I forgot to sign my post!

  4. Hi Susan,

    I think Keanu Reeves in that kitchen would complete it for me!

  5. As I write this, I have multiple bags of groceries that need to put away, a cat box close by, the stench of which is making my eyes water, and an email from a client asking questions which I have no answers to. But open on my laptop is my latest w-i-p and that makes everything else worthwhile. Terrific post, Maria. I suspect that those of us without the white kitchen (or heck, Diane Keaton's body!) are the majority, not the minority. My desk chair faces an exercise bike, btw, not the ocean and I'm just waiting for the appropriate hour to have a vita muffin. Followed by a glass of wine. Maggie

  6. Maria, that would certainly be a nice touch! ;-)

  7. Maggie, That is why I purposely keep my laptop far away from the litter box :)

  8. Maybe we writers are a little nuts. I often wonder why I didn't quit when my first book received nearly 30 rejections--or all the other times rejections flooded my mailbox. Not sure if I can lay claim to perseverance or being stubborn.
    And I'm sure I'll never have a Diane Keaton kitchen, but I do look out over a river and a range of mountains.


  9. You are all so neat. So what if your kitchen is lived in by all and sundry? You truly seem to enjoy each other, and your lives. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  10. Maria, I saw that movie again recently, and I was also struck by how effortless writing seemed for the character, despite the chaos in her life, which never happens for me when my life is chaotic -- and how much I envied her that kitchen. Though if I had it, I'd sure add a splash of COLOR. Talk about sterile. But gorgeous.

  11. Kris, I recently saw it again too and adored it all over again. Maria, that is funny! I was thinking, 'how the heck does Susan know it is Maria?' Glad to see your name added and hi to you. For me, it is a tree around which my writing universe spins. When I move, I care more about the trees and the views onto them than anything else. I also have no art on the walls (okay, posters) between me and the window, and no postboard clutter. I like to see just the tree. The chaos is firmly *behind* my chair and not in my eyeline. Litter boxes verboten! Nice post and a lovely Gang from one who must remember to switch slippers for a pair of heels when writing some time. Wonder what *that* would feel like!

  12. Oh, Maria, I'm a day late... but what a fabulous post. I had to comment after the out of kilter, four different docs on the phone (two vets & a linked call between Children's Hospital & the very nice but not quite up to speed UGA health center doc) writer's day I had! Did that make sense? Forget the laundry, maybe next week! Aside from any writing of my own, my main goal was to write a review for Susan's fabulous LBD, which I promise is forthcoming! Anyway... your post did make me think of my movie inspired writer's moment, that scene from Romancing the Stone where Kathleen Turner boo-hoos into her 1980's computer screen (or maybe it was a typewriter), putting the finishing touches on her soon to be bestseller romance! Yeah, I'm still waiting for that plus Michael Douglas!