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.
*Photo Courtesy of apples4teachers.com.