Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Reality of Writing: Guest Post by M.J. Moores

Author, editor, and freelance writer M. J. Moores began her career as an English teacher in Ontario, Canada. Her love of storytelling and passion for writing has stayed with her since the age of nine. M. J. relishes tales of adventure and journeys of self-realization. She enjoys writing in a variety of genres but speculative fiction remains her all time favourite. Her first novel, Time's Tempest is available on Amazon in print and as an ebook.
The Reality of Writing
By M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Freelance Writer.

There is a kind of glamour associated with writing and being an author; it’s the perception of the uninitiated. One common misconception is that if you can call yourself an ‘author’ then you must be doing pretty well for yourself. Another is that unless hundreds of thousands of readers (and non-readers) have heard of you, you’re probably not that good. Both of these myths have been refuted and challenged throughout the years but the idea that’s still the most misunderstood is if writing is your profession then you must have it easy.

Of course these uninitiated are usually aware of J.K. Rowling’s rise from obscurity and near poverty to stardom, but they see this as a unique case – for the wrong reasons. It’s not uncommon that as a writer J.K. had to work multiple jobs as a single mother and cram writing in whenever she could, but it is out of the ordinary for a writer to reach her fame and stature, period.

Writing professionally (i.e. not as a hobby or something to fill time when you retire) is hard work. What might surprise you is why it’s difficult. Anyone can tell a story but not everyone call tell it in such a way that other people will want to hear it again and again – or read it over and over, but that’s a skill of mastery dedicated crafters will learn (or not, as the case happens to be for so many emerging self-published writers these days). However, that in-and-of-itself isn't the hard part, that’s just time consuming.

The hard part is being a writer and dealing with reality – even if you write non-fiction.

Life happens and life is messy. Whether you’re going through school and trying to study, complete assignments, do lab work or anything else associated with education, or you’re a professional with a job, maybe a family, probably friends who vie for your time, and have adult things to do like bills to make payments on – finding time to write and balance your life’s reality is trying on the best of days. Things tend to get even harder when your writing is seen by others as “indulgent” and those close to you don’t “get it.”

For me, it’s bad enough that when I was working professionally as a teacher the only time I found to write was during the summers; now, as a stay-at-home mom I don’t even have that time off. Between educating, feeding, and playing with my young son (as well as being the parent who gets up in the middle of the night to see what’s wrong since I don’t have to leave the house to go to work in the morning), I’m exhausted. I nap when he naps and I go to bed early at night in order to wake up with him at the crack of dawn.

But you see I’m one of those ‘happily married’ mothers – so I also have to feed my husband when he gets home from work (2 hrs after my son eats) and keep the marriage happy (which is hard enough for the average person these days). So that eliminates any time for writing in the evenings after my son goes to sleep. Okay, weekends you counter – chores I return with an incredible overhand smash just inside the line (tennis reference – not that I play). There’s the usual three meals a day for both husband and child, laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and errand running to do. Yes, I hear all you equal opportunity people out there – “What about your husband?”
My husband leaves for work 20 min. after our son wakes up and often gets home after the boy has already gone to bed. My child misses his father; so come the weekend they are inseparable, as it should be. They play together and work together. If the lawn needs to be mowed, my son finds a way to help; if the garden needs to be weeded, my son has his own set of tools; and if something needs to be fixed, our little guy carts his plastic hammer and drill around after his father. It’s great bonding time.

So, when do I write? How is it possible that in the past year I've had nearly one article a month published by an online writing magazine, have written two non-fiction e-books containing advice for writers in publishing and publicity, got an essay published in a writer’s guide, and a 376 page fiction novel published (not to mention the freelance editing I manage to squeak in from one month to the next)?

No, I haven't borrowed Hermione’s Time Turner (or J.K.’s for that matter). I steal time at every possible moment. Those nights I actually get to sleep without having to run into my son’s room at 3am mean days that I don’t need to have a nap. Weekends mean one dinner instead of two and a few dusty shelves or one less load of laundry done. And one afternoon a week, Grandad takes the boy for 2 hrs.

Writing will likely never make me rich (in fact I’ll be lucky to make even a small profit for all my troubles) but it’s an intrinsic and vital part of who I am – it is my reality. And while I may have to sit down with my husband once a month to re-convince him of this fact, for a pessimist he’s incredibly supportive. My life is not unique – the cold hard facts are that writing is not glamorous or easy but it is rewarding when it’s done right.

2 comments:

  1. I'd like to thank Alexis for honoring me with this guest post. Should anyone have any comments or questions, I'll be checking in regularly throughout the day :D
    MJ

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  2. Hi, great post there! Been there, I KNOW your struggles, I completely understand your circumstances, and huge congratulations on keeping at it and being you. My first book, I was doing the research at 2 in the morning, around baby's feeding times, and the world at large wasn't making it any easier with banks crashing and my theatre writing career destroyed by lack of funding, and then my partner had his first nervous breakdown and I was having to care for him too. And it's all hard work, I know. However, during all the difficult times, it was actually my writing that kept me sane. It's the one thing I can do even when I'm ill or exhausted - it keeps me alive through all the turmoil. So can I give you one piece of good news - it gets better. My kids are now at school, much more independent, and I write (and do all the writing business stuff) from 8.30am until 3.30pm, and it's when they get home that I start being Mum and housewife again. The money's still not good, but I have more time to pick and choose the work and promote myself as a writer and get the work coming to me. So hang in there - keep at it - and if it sometimes seems all too much, know I'm thinking of you, and reminding you - it is WORTH IT. Keep stealing time and the time will come to you. (and ignore the nickname, it's from an old blog on blogspot and I can't get rid of it!) xxx

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