People often ask me what it’s like to be an author.
How can I explain?
Instead of explaining how I got into it, or what it takes to finish and/or publish a book, I’d like to offer a fresh insight.
You know those fictional characters so obsessed with their goal they’ll sacrifice any and everything? We have the very famous cases like old Abe after his whale and Scarlett O’Hara after Ashley. There’s lawyer Jake Brigance in "A Time to Kill" who risks his career, his marriage, the safety of his friends and family and even his own life to defend a black man in a white Mississippi. On a deeper level, he’s defending an action and something he would have done — he’s defending himself. Many great figures in literature wanted something to the point that it defined them.
That’s what it’s like to be an author. It’s more a way of life than a job.
Now, I wouldn’t say authors put their lives in danger, but I like to think of a writing career as a healthy obsession. It takes lots of time, practice, study, determination and an unrelenting love of storytelling. Readers appreciate smooth writing, interesting settings and proper grammar, but what they really crave is a gripping story that forces them to turn the pages until the end of the book. They want conflict, suspense and resolution, whether it’s a gritty mystery or emotional romance.
Any writer knows writing is a lifelong learning process. Even the biggest bestsellers write articles about how excited they get when they learn something new. You can always see something in a new way, discover a nuance of description, develop your voice and learn so many other things. I constantly read bestselling novels and any book, blog or article on writing that I find has something new to offer.
And, of course, I write.
Day to day, I write, read, do a little marketing and then write some more. My main marketing these days is interacting with readers online and answering letters or comments. The obsession part comes in when I’m rinsing plates, looking out the window, and suddenly see the perfect scene to add to the story.
Sometimes, I’ll have my plot in mind and walk away from the computer only to race back, typing out the idea while it’s fresh and hot in my mind.
The "healthy" part of this equation is I can set my own hours, take a long walk in the middle of the day or even take a day off if needed.
You can’t write about life without living it!
Writing is a bit different, jobwise, and it’s one I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Kristen James is married with six children. Read her Mondays on Douglas County Moms. Also check out her writing website at writerkristenjames.com. And check out her book, "More Than a Promise," here, and her book, "More Than Memories," here.
Any writer knows writing is a lifelong learning process.