As I write this, I’m sitting with a glass of wine on the terrace of my luxurious house in the south of France. Vineyards surround my property as far as the eye can see. My trusty laptop is humming happily as I finish my latest novel which is sure to be another bestseller. The royalties from my previous novels have afforded me this wonderful lifestyle, and have given me all the time I need to write. I’ll never need a day job again!
I wish I lived in the sunny south of France surrounded by vineyards. Instead I’m in my suburban home in snowy Canada, which isn’t so bad really, but not terribly glamorous. And the part about my best-seller status and the stacks of money from the sale of my books? Total fiction.
The truth is that if I had to depend on my royalties as my only income, I’d probably be living beneath an underpass in a cardboard box. I have a part-time job and a husband who thankfully has supported my writing habit for many years. My own personal patron of the arts, so to speak.
I’m a pretty ordinary person. I’m a wife, mother, friend. I buy groceries and clean the toilets like anyone else. My day, when I’m not going to work, looks something like this: 7 am – drag myself out of bed and go to the kitchen in search of coffee. 8 am – take the dog out for a walk before she piddles on the floor. 9 am – sit down at my computer (or stand. I have a standing desk) and stare at the screen until I’ve reached my predetermined goal of number of words written. I spend a lot of time at this desk. Some days the writing just flows, and other days, it’s as painful as pulling teeth.
I know I’m not likely to be the next Nora Roberts. So why do I do it then? If the hours are many and the pay is lousy, and the glamor isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, why do I write?
Because it’s the only job I’ve ever had that makes me feel like me, like this is what I’m meant to do. A lot of writers say they can’t not write, and I totally know what they’re talking about. I’ve thought about quitting writing and getting a real job; I could certainly make more money doing something else. But whenever I think about quitting, I feel physically ill. I can’t not write.
So even though it’s difficult, I’ll continue to create my little worlds and my characters because it’s rewarding and it makes me happy. When the day comes that writing no longer makes me happy, that’s the day I’ll quit.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a lot of work to do. That toilet isn’t going to clean itself!