Being a Writer Is the Worst

Of all the creative, artistic vocations, being a writer is the worst. I mean, I love it, but it’s the worst.

I envy other artists because of something they can easily do that is ridiculously difficult for a writer to accomplish, which is one very simple thing: to see someone actively enjoying their work.

If you’re a musician, actor, or dancer, you can perform live for people. If you’re a painter, sculptor, or other material artist, you can watch visitors to a gallery showing your work.

But writers don’t get to watch people reading their books.

It’s considered creepy and is frowned upon in polite society.

“Not true,” some of you are saying. “Like poets, authors can do public readings of their work!”

Yeah, which means I can experience live reactions from a tiny audience hearing me read a few pages of a 300-page book. That’s like a painter displaying only the top inch of his wall-sized mural or a musician playing only the opening chords of a song.

Don’t misunderstand… I do keep correspondence from readers who have read and loved my work and those messages mean a great deal to me. But it’s all past tense. “I loved your book.” They’re done. They’ve read the entire work. There’s no way for the writer to see the moments of surprise on a reader’s face at plot twists, to see the reader cry when a beloved character dies, to hear them laugh at your stellar sense of humor. Because by the time they write to us, all that is just a memory.

I’ve been fortunate over the years to have been able to talk with a few readers while they’re between chapters of my books. And that’s really great, because they can share their reactions and thoughts when they’re at least still fresh. But those reactions aren’t now.

It’s never now for authors.

Being a writer is the worst.

Posted by vmwales