What Do Authors Do?

what do authors doDear Reader,

While at the library the other day, I came across a children’s book that was titled “What Do Authors Do?” by Eileen Christelow. Fascinated by what the perspective would be, I looked up the book. So what do authors do? Apparently, a lot of thinking, a lot of writing, and a lot of questioning—and then much rewriting. This seems to be a fair statement.  Being an author herself, I imagine that Christelow has herself as the perfect source for this book. One thing I was worried about was that the authors portrayed in the book would be those flighty ones, the ones who wander around and have too much sex and whiskey (or play dates and apple juice, as this is a children’s book) before hitting upon that “big idea” that magically solves everything. Now, is this the case with some authors? I’m sure it is. The media definitely loves to play on this image of the crazy, inspiration-hungry writer who has pencils stuck in their hair and don’t even realize it. Of course incidents like that happen, but they should not be made to be the bulk of a writer’s job. When they are, the other 90% of the writer’s job—which just involves working patiently and consistently—remains ignored. If one ever asks what the job description is for a writer, I hope that the answer would be that the only requirement is not giving up, no matter how stuck you get or how much the revisions drive you to a place where you question everything. Trust me, that will happen. So will the end, if you hang on.

For Ms. Christelow, thank you for not giving into the stereotypes and showing the truth of writing as it is and, I imagine, will continue to be for writers. We need more truth in this world.

Sincerely,

Jumbled Writer

*Photo Courtesy of apples4teachers.com.

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12 Responses to What Do Authors Do?

  1. Thanks! This just made my morning! 🙂

    “One thing I was worried about was that the authors portrayed in the book would be those flighty ones, the ones who wander around and have too much sex and whiskey (or play dates and apple juice, as this is a children’s book) before hitting upon that “big idea” that magically solves everything.”

  2. I suppose the general perception of a writer rarely crosses my mind. That’s not to say I am unable to see your concern with having a stereotype, but my personality is focused on production. It’s like I forget people exist and then need to come back to reality to deal with anything social. I don’t hear so much about the Jack Kerouac style perception in as much as I do the “ugh, a ‘writer'” attitude. It doesn’t impress many people.

    • I suppose different people have different ideas of what a writer is, which is probably just as well, as there are so many different types of writers out there. If it doesn’t impress people, that’s okay with me. Like you, I am more concerned on writing than on what people will think of me being a writer.
      –JW

  3. The thing that always got in my way, was the fear of people passing judgment on my work and in turn, on me. No idea why I was so irrationally concerned about how people would receive me; given that I was successful at writing in the past; before I went on an extended break from society. I guess I lived up to the anti-social stereotype, to an extent. All I was lacking was a cabin out in the woods and alcohol. 😉

    • Yes, I have the same fears about people finding my work not good enough, and thus finding me not good enough. I don’t understand why it is so important for me to have this sense of approval. But you are right, it does get in the way. Instead of worrying, we should be writing.
      –JW

  4. Ah, yes, writing and rewriting. And sometimes when they can’t sleep they get on their computer and read someone else’s writings at 5am. 🙂 And then they want to comment on everything — because writers are opinionated people. 🙂

    Editing note: You switched person in the sentence “image of the crazy, inspiration-hungry writer who has pencils stuck in their hair.” If you wanted to know. 🙂

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