The Romance of Writers

The Romance of WritersOh, to be a writer! To waft dreamily through life and to drink it in like lukewarm tea. To feel emotions with edges like swords and flavors of honey! To taste the world with words and to see stories in every crack, in every stone. To be part of an art that consumes you, that breathes fire into your soul. To be a writer is the very essence of romance and of passion.

Yeah. Right. To be a writer is more like trudging through life, dragging a boulder of ideas behind you. To feel emotions like any other human being, but to have the gift (or curse) of being able to articulate them precisely. To experience life just like every other human out there, meeting both struggles and luck on the way through.

How often do we see the life of a writer romanticized? On TV, in books, and in every day life. To be a writer is this strange thing where others view you both as a starving artist and as one of the luckiest people alive. It’s an art that is both respected and scorned at the same time. Often, we are put into this box in which we are labeled as passionate, fiery, and sometimes reactive individuals. We are seen as people who feel things much differently than everyone else.

But do we? I don’t think so. As much as I would like to think that, as a writer, I have some magical gift that allows me to experience life differently than anyone who doesn’t write, I recognize that that is an unreasonable and rather self-absorbed assumption. Think about all of the fictional writers that you see portrayed: Johnny Depp in Secret Window, Hank in Californication, Hannah in Girls, any number of journalists in The Newsroom–they are either mentally unstable, entirely selfish and irresponsible, or they simply use being a writer as an excuse for bad emotional behaviour.

They treat writing, and the life of being a writer, like any other stereotype, and they make the rest of us look bad.

To be a writer is hard work, but not any harder than anything else out there. Anyone can write, just as anyone can paint or sing or dance. How good we are at it aside, it doesn’t really make us different than anyone else. Perhaps we find it easier to describe our emotions, or to relate our ideas to others. Maybe we have bigger vocabularies. But we don’t all behave as if we are too sensitive to be alive. And we don’t all feel like writing is as easy as breathing or as difficult as wringing water out of a dry sponge.

Writing can be romantic, but so can any number of arts and professions. And while we can make everything sound like roses and butterflies, we can also be blunt and clear and precise. We aren’t all waiting to become professional authors, and we aren’t all complaining about how difficult our lot in life is.

We don’t all drink tea and wear woolen shawls. We don’t all have cats or coffee addictions. We don’t all like red wine and folk music. Romanticizing writing is one of the things that makes it so difficult to do. When we have preemptive expectations laid on us because of misconceptions or popular culture, it slowly strips away our individuality as artists and as people. It allows people to make a first impression of us even before we meet them, which makes it hard to feel as if you are being taken seriously.

To write, and to do it for a living, is bloody hard work. But so is programming, and so is construction. Writers are no different than anyone else, and we come in a variety of shapes and sizes (emotionally, mentally, and physically!). We’ll never be “one size fits all”, and that’s ok. We don’t need to be seen through any color glasses, pink or otherwise, so be proud to be the writer that you are, and next time someone has a typical reaction to your announcement of being a writer, just take a deep breath and remember this post.

What are some misconceptions that you have encountered about writers? Do you think that the profession is overly romanticized? What fictional writer do you despise the most?

Care to join me on ?


7 thoughts on “The Romance of Writers

  1. I dislike the one where we’re able to sit down and everything flows out of us with ease. Some days I find it so hard to concentrate I only get a couple words out at most. And that’s when I find time to write! And that it’s an easy job that brings in tons of money. Yeah, I’m not exactly living in a penthouse with a butler and a collection of creepy dolls and life-sized Doctor Who memorabilia. And if it was easy, could you really make a living out of it? I think not!

  2. One of my favourite movies ever is Romancing the Stone, in which Kathleen Turner portrays a rather nervous romance writer called Joan Wilder. She writes romance but has never been in love or involved in any kind of adventure. She gets dragged out of her comfort zone in order to help her sister, meets an adventurer, helps to find a treasure, falls in love and beats the bad guys. The experience changes her forever. Now that’s a cliched writer that I would love to be like!

    • That one sounds entertainingly absurd, to be completely honest! While it would be lovely if it happened, that’s just so unrealistic. Hopefully no one watched it and thought that’s how it is for us! 🙂

  3. There are times, especially those times when I’m not producing anything worth posting on my blog, I feel I am more in love the the idea of being a writer than actually being a writer. At those times I’ll sit in my chair, in the middle of my library-cum-office and gaze at all the volumes on the shelves (books about writing, books about book collecting), my my small collection of writing instruments, the file cabinets brimming with research material and assorted stacks of god-knows-what’ all the ephemera of a writer’s life, and I’ll think, “What ever made me think I could do this?” Then I’ll turn back to my computer, close the “Solitaire” program and think to myself, “Maybe tomorrow. . .”

    • You know, I think all of us feel like that sometimes. I certainly don’t always feel like a writer. I often question my abilities and all of the choices that I made to become a writer, and I am not even close to where I want to be. At long as we’re always moving forward with it, no matter where we are compared to others, at least we know that we aren’t just staying stagnant. And writing isn’t just about production, it also encompasses thinking, reading, planning. etc.

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