This post is the first of a series that I’m entitling, “Being a Writer and [Insert Other Thing Here].”
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how writing affects and is affected by other aspects of my professional and personal life. Becoming a published author was a dream fulfilled. But I remember marveling, on the morning of The Oddfits’ official release, at how the world didn’t stop. Or to be more precise, how my world didn’t stop. I still had translations and other, smaller writing projects to see through. I still had emails to answer. I still had to make toast for breakfast. I still had to wake up at 5 in the morning because my eleven-month-old decided to rise even earlier than usual. (“My first novel came out today and I’d like to sleep in,” I considered saying to him in a bid to get him to go back to bed. But what was the use?) In fact, it was shockingly easy to forget, amidst the humdrum mundanities of life, that my novel had been published at all.
I say “shockingly,” because I really was surprised by how easy it was to forget. And it took me a little while longer to figure out why. A lot of rhetoric around writing tends to frame it as a kind of divine calling. Writing is something you dedicate your whole being to. It is something you eat, breathe, live, if you’re serious about it, which you are if you’re any sort of real writer. Writing is a state of mind, a way of life. (Though in this sense, writing is hardly unusual – the same could be said of the rhetoric that surrounds being an artist, or a musician, or an academic, or an athlete.)
I do believe the rhetoric is, at least for me, mostly true. I do think writing is something I have always felt intuitively (and yes, perhaps divinely) called to. I do think one needs to be very serious about writing and dedicate a lot of time and energy to it in order to be good at it. But I think this rhetoric also somehow instilled in me the notion that my attainment of “official” writerdom would enable me to be a writer in complete and utter totality – to spend my entire day thinking nothing but writerly thoughts and doing nothing but writerly activities. It is possible that there is another plane of nun-like writerly existence where, in fact, this is the case. It is very possible. But so far, this has not been true for me. And I suspect it isn’t true for many writers, even super successful ones. Writers don’t exist in vacuums. Surely, all the parts of life unrelated to writing are bound to creep in and surely these parts are significant as well, even if they’re not always as sexy-sounding as the “writing” part.
So, this is what I’m thinking for the next six posts in this series:
- Preface (this post)
- Being a Writer and a Translator
- Being a Writer and Mothering
- Being a Writer and an Amazon Author (there is a distinction, even if there is overlap)
- Being a Writer and “Religious”
- Being a Writer and Post-Academic
- Being a Writer and Tired
And I’ll see if anything else comes to mind after these…