What It's Like Being A Writer: An Examination and Explanation

This post, by Chuck Wendig, originally appeared on his terribleminds site on 8/10/11.

Okay, you know how Muggles don’t get what it’s like being a wizard? And how crazy people don’t know what it’s like being sane and sane people don’t know what it’s like being crazy?

Those who are not writers do not know what it’s like to be a writer. Ask someone who is not infected with the Authorial Virus (Types A through G) what a writer does and you’ll probably get a blank stare. Then that person will noodle it and shrug and say, “He sits up there in his room with his My Little Ponies, pooping fairy tales out of his fingertips for ten minutes. Then he masturbates and talks to people on Twitter.”

[Editor’s note: strong language after the jump]

Masturbate? Well, fine. Everybody’s got a lunch hour, and it doesn’t take me 60 minutes to eat a damn sandwich. Nothing wrong with exploring my own body with various textures and food products. As for Twitter? Hey, you go and mill around the water cooler like a bunch of thirsty water bison, and I go and mill around Twitter like a digital version of the same.

But I do not defecate fairy tales out of my fingertips. If only the act of writing was quite so simple as all that.

(And, by the way, leave my ponies out of it. They didn’t do anything to you.)

Point being, it’s time to take this big callused toe of mine and drag it across the sand. There, then, is the line. On this side is me, the penmonkey. On that side is you, the… I dunno. Pen-muggle. Shut up.

What I’m trying to say is, this is what it means to be a writer. Got people in your life who just don’t grok the trials and tribulations of the everyday word-chucker? Show them this.

I Swear On The Life Of Word Jesus, It’s Actually Work

This one sucks because you know what? I get it. I’ve tried explaining to people what I do, and at no point does it sound like work. “Uhh, well, I wake up at 6AM and I get my coffee and then I get in front of the computer and I… make stuff up… and then I try to convince people to buy the things I just… made up.” It sounds like the world’s biggest scam and explains why so many people want to be writers.

I might as well have said, “I sit out in a sunlit meadow and play Candyland with a bunch of puppies.”

Let’s just clear this one up right now:

Writing is work. It’s not back-breaking labor, no — though, by now I probably do have scoliosis (and a Deep-Vein Thrombosis whose clot-bullet will probably detonate in my brain) — but it is mind-breaking just the same. I can sit here for hours metaphorically head-butting the computer monitor until this story — or article, or blog-post, or sex-toy instruction manual — bleeds out across the screen. And then I have to keep fucking with it, keep hacking it apart and juicing my skull-meats until it all makes sense. Everything else is emails and spreadsheets and outlines and porn and shame and homelessness.

Am I doing work on par with fire fighters or soldiers? Fuuuuu-huuuu-huuuck no. But neither are you, Mister Cubicle Monkey. Or you, Target clerk. So. You know. Hush up.

All I’m saying is, no, I don’t need a “real job” because I already have one.

Read the rest of the post on Chuck Wendig‘s terribleminds.