The Writer’s Life

Hey there! I know, I haven’t blogged in a while, but with four books due a year it’s been hard to do off-the-cuff writing…

I just got back from BEA, the big Book Expo, which is like Fashion Week for books, (we even have celebrities now, which is a shame, they take over everything, even BEA. I’m looking at you Julianne Moore, whom I’m sure is a lovely person, but with so many GREAT FABULOUS kids writers out there—do we really need a CELEBRITY to talk about children’s books? Sigh. I guess we do.)

Anyway, every time I go to New York I see old friends and acquaintances, and I love the city because it is a competitive city, and when you do well, your friends and acquaintances will let you know how proud/impressed they are of you. I didn’t mention jealous, because I’ve finally come to the age where I DON’T have toxic people in my life anymore, and when good things happen to me or to my friends, we are all truly happy for each other and celebrate with champagne and hugs.

But what I am always struck by, when I talk to people I know, or who’ve known me for so long, is how most of the world truly does not understand what the writer’s life, the creative life, is all about. Everyone always wants to talk about the movie deals, or the big advances, or how many people follow you on Facebook or Twitter or how long was your line at BEA, and it’s not really what it’s about. And that’s fine, because mostly people understand NUMBERS and BUSINESS and those sorts of things, that apply to the big bad outside world. And it’s nice to be at the place where all the outside things the shiny things of my life are nice and shiny and I can point to Bestseller Lists and all that to say yes, ahem, we are doing well, thank you.

But what I always want to say is—it’s really not about that. It’s NICE of course. It’s very nice and ego-stroking. But it’s NOT EVERYTHING. And it’s not why I became a writer. I had been writing books for many years before I got invited to BEA, my sixteenth novel was the one that hit the “lists”, and if you asked me if I’m happier now than when I was writing two books a year, and those books were doing OK but not gangbusters, but were able to afford us a nice living, I don’t know if I’m that much happier now really. It was enough to be able to make a living from the writing, everything else is gravy. And am I happier? Yes, but because I have a happy marriage and a great kid and wonderful family and friends, but also I’m sad, because my dad isn’t around anymore, and it’s a sadness I will carry with me for the rest of my life, so in that way, life is richer, but also none of those things that make me truly happy has anything to do with my career.

Because it’s the writing that’s the most fun, that’s the secret joy to it all. Yes sometimes it is a slog and yes sometimes a grind and like pulling teeth and so stressful you get a mouth of canker sores for a month before deadline. But mostly it’s FUN to live someone else’s life for those hours spent in front of the computer. The work is fun, and having a life that allows me to have this fun, it’s amazing. That is the best thing about being a writer. It’s joy and fun and naps and EUREKA! moments and living the emotions, the stories, that spark imaginations and move our hearts. It’s also a lot of tearing-hair-out and gnashing teeth and hating everything you’ve written, and gaining weight because you’re sitting around so much, or stress-eating, but the not-fun moments make the fun moments even sweeter.

Go out there, and live a creative life, an artist’s life, a writer’s life. And read this blog too, which has so many great, insightful truths about writers, and jealousy and book deals.