The Exciting Job of Writer!

DSC03525-BSo I went to the bank last week and it’s a good thing I did or I wouldn’t have anything to say at the Muffin.

Mostly, I talked about “What Successful Writers Do (Besides Writing)” and if you want to know more about those money-making ventures, then off you go!

For those of you not interested in money-making ventures (or improving your writing skills), then stick around for a little writer philosophizing. Because it happened again. At the bank, I mean. When the guy helping me order checks found out I was a writer, he literally stopped typing and looked up. Suddenly, I wasn’t a boring, middle-aged woman. I was a writer!

Why do you suppose people find writers so exciting? What is it about this profession that’s so interesting to the non-writing world? I would say it’s an arts thing–my daughter would get the same reaction when she was a dancer–but when people find out I once worked in radio, you can see the gears shift, too. So clearly, there are certain professions that appear more exotic than others.

I get lion-tamer or glass-blower or even fireman. Those are some mighty interesting jobs; then again, there’s an element of danger there. But writer? The only danger I’m in is my checking account dipping below the amount needed to keep from paying a monthly maintenance fee.

Actually, I can see how working in radio would seem exciting, too. It was fun even if I wasn’t making much money. (And by “much money”, I mean “hardly enough money to make ends meet.”) There are lots of jobs like radio that seem exciting–professional baseball player, wine taster, paranormal investigator–but really, the excitement comes in short bursts. The rest of the time, it’s just same-old, same-old boring job.

But writer? It’s an exciting burst to get a contract or sign with an agent or even see your byline out there in the world. But I don’t see John Q. Public getting all worked up over that kind of excitement. So I’m asking you, dear writer readers. What do you think it is about the profession of writing that would make a millennial look up from his desk and start a twenty minute conversation with a woman in glasses, sporting a couple age spots?

Because it seems to me that someone in such an exciting job should be making way more money. If only I could figure out why.

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15 thoughts on “The Exciting Job of Writer!

  1. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because so many people want to do it and for some reason think they can’t. Or else, they’ve thought the opposite…that it was soooo easy to write a children’s book and then got a harsh reality check about how difficult it really is. Either way, it does have a sort of exotic feel to it. And I have to say, even though it doesn’t pay much (and when I say “much” in my case I mean peanuts 🙂 ) the thing that gets me every time is how exciting it is to have a total stranger choose my story because they really and truly like it. That never gets old!

    • Well, yeah, it’s exciting for us, Deb, or else we would’ve quit long ago to make more than peanuts! 🙂 (And yes, I forgot all those folks who think writing for children must be easy because hey, they’re just kids. I don’t think my banker friend was one of those types!)

  2. Cathy, Thanks — it is nice to be noticed. You are a fine writer ! That is my compliment for today. Homer

  3. Writers bring other folks the whims and whorls of life. No writer- no movie, no TV show, no songs to play on the radio, no magazines, no computer game, no comic books, etc. Writers open their imaginations and take all age groups to the places they want to go. Some people get that and some don’t. You met someone who sees the reality of the writer’s pen 🙂 Happy Day! Love your posts, lady!

    • Well, Charlotte, maybe that’s it. Imagination IS exciting, isn’t it? Maybe it’s that simple and I was just over-complicating it. (And you have a happy day, too–I’m so glad you love my posts, indulgent as they may be!) 🙂

  4. Good for you, Cathy! It’s great that the gentleman looked up from his work when he learned you were a writer. Gives me hope for the younger generation. I think John or Jane Q Public might find the writing life fascinating because they don’t know the hard work that’s involved and maybe think it’s something they might be able to do. And I love the covers of your books displayed here. It’s so cool that you are an internationally-published author!

    Here’s my I’m-a-writer story: I was buying a book stand at the Dollar Tree, and the woman in front of me, who was shepherding her elderly mother through the line, asked what I was going to use the stand for. When I told her it was to display a book at a signing, she asked if I was a writer. When I mumbled, “Yes, but I haven’t written an entire book, but I have stories in anthologies,” she said she’d never met a real writer before and asked me to sign her receipt. Most writers won’t get rich, but writing is something we love!

    • Oh, thanks, Donna! It’s hard to think that somewhere on the other side of the world, a student’s reading my book and learning English. Though I wasn’t allowed to put any y’alls in the books so it’s not quite true to life… 🙂

      And your writing story dang near had me choked up. Yes, we love what we do but to meet someone who loves what we do as well? Priceless.

  5. I think writers get that kind of reaction because in each one of us–deep down inside–is a writer. I once had a security guard at a parking garage stop me (I was a wearing my “Will write for food” T-shirt) and we had a 15 minute conversation about writing.

    We may not make much money, but it IS a bit heady when someone says, “Your story moved me.”

    • Maybe that’s it, Sioux, that we all have a story to tell and being able to bring our stories to people IS something exciting. And you had me choked up, too. Dang, y’all. 🙂

  6. On the one hand, I think people have a misconception about what authors earn. Most folks don’t realize that—especially for new authors—even a halfway decent advance is sucked dry by taxes paid to Uncle Sam and marketing the books, buying swag, etc. I know an author who signed a 3-book deal with Penguin. After taxes, and buying books to sell, and paying her own travel expenses to go to book signings (that’s right…Penguin, one of the biggies, does not foot the bill for new authors), she had only pennies left when it was all said and done.

    On the other hand, because of that misconception, the job of “writer” seems pretty amazing to people whose only knowledge is what they’ve seen on TV and movies. Some believe we’re hunched over our laptops in a magic cave where unicorns sleep at our feet and faeries dance across the keyboard. Still others imagine us lounging around doing more drinking of booze than typing of words. And while I’m too busy to lounge, and there are no unicorns—and rarely any booze—the truth is I can’t disagree that it’s a dynamite gig. We get paid to make stuff up! We don’t get paid much in dollars, but we’re paid in the joy of using the gifts we’ve been given, and we’re paid in sheer delight whenever a reader is touched by our work. One person, just one, that says, “Your book made me cry/laugh/sigh,” and all those hours at the keyboard make perfect sense and are deemed worthwhile. Those things aren’t monetary, but they’re payment just the same—payment not everyone gets to experience.. There’s a little bit of magic in that. And maybe that’s what makes it all seem cool to non-writers. 🙂

    • Well, Lisa, I could loan you MY unicorn for …say, a weekend? But I’d need him right back or the fairies get testy. 🙂

      So true, my friend, there IS magic in our job and you can’t put a price tag on that!

  7. If they only knew the pedestal they have us on is not for the faint of heart. The tax preparer had someone look over her work, and the supervisor asked with excitement, “May I ask what you received royalties for?” I said, “I freelance.” He seemed disappointed. Kudos to you for your success and always making others feel good.

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