The dark side of an unconventional life

From the outside, the lifestyle of a writer appears to be a life of pleasure and fantasy. The days being spent escaping into far off worlds, and creating the perfect story where everything that happens is as you’d like it. A position of control and safety.

But it’s not like this from the inside… Or not all of the time anyway. Instead it is a constant balance between fantasy and reality, and being able to exist in this state of purgatory is a skill that a writer, or any artist, must master.

I am constantly attempting to physically escape in order to get my words down, check out this post on location and this one on time, but I also find that I constantly have to justify what I’m doing to judges from the outside. Due to the unconventional, flexible nature of what we do, it is hard for conventional, beige people to fully understand that it is actually work and not just a laugh.

More importantly in today’s age for a writer (this is a great post by Cristian Mihai on the Modern Writer) you must be an expert on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs; a self-marketing guru, and an entrepreneur. You need to balance these very non-creative skills with the actual substance of writing. This is work, there are no two ways about it, and the time that this side requires consumes a lot of hours.

Messing about on your phone looking at Twitter is one of those things that is hard to justify to a doubter from the outside. Firstly, you have to explain the opportunities of selfpublishing and then the benefits of Twitter, and ten to fifteen minutes later you have done another bad job of defending your lifestyle to yet another person.

I am perpetually frustrated by the constant evidencing of what I choose to do. I feel like I need to achieve a New York Times Bestseller just so that I can shove it in people’s faces to prove that I’m not playing games.

I have a family, people that are dependent on me, and this is not a responsibility that I take lightly, but I am trying to make my life, and their life, better in the long term. To constantly have to explain that ‘I’m not just a bum’ to people that don’t understand is tiring.

The people that matter are with me all the way, and this gives me the support to carry on, and although I know that I don’t need to justify myself to anybody else, out of my own self-respect I feel that I do.

I wonder if best selling authors face similar irritations, or do these pains in the arse metamorphosise in to your biggest fans. Give me some love in the comments, as you can tell, I’m feeling fed up at the moment.


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