I always knew I wanted to be a writer. Even as a young child, I loved making up stories. Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “a writer”. If the person asking was a teacher or guidance counsellor they would generally respond with, “you can’t make a living doing that. You’ll need to get a proper job.” And that would leave me a bit flummoxed because there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do.
It turns out the grownups were right, though. I still have to fit the writing around the day job because I don’t make enough money from the writing to do it full time. My colleagues all know I’m a writer – it’s too important to me not to mention it. But it’s sometimes difficult to explain the writing to people connected to the day job who know I don’t do it for a living. They might assume that since I don’t do it for the money then it’s a hobby. Playing my bass guitar at open mic nights is a hobby. Playing Dungeons and Dragons is a hobby. The writing is more than that.
Some people assume I do the writing ‘for fun’. This just seems so far off the mark I don’t know where to begin to correct them. Most of the time, writing isn’t fun. Each rejection I get crushes a bit of my soul. Each time I stare at the words I’ve written and think, “this is just a load of rubbish” I want to go crawl into a hole and not come out again. I spend days or sometimes weeks in a funk when the self-doubt kicks in and I’m convinced I have no talent at all and I’m just pretending to be a writer. Whenever this feeling kicks in I try to ride it out, because I know it will pass. I also know it’s going to come back, and there’s nothing remotely fun about it.
Neither is it fun to get up at 5:30am to get the early train into London so I can spend an hour in a coffee shop writing before heading off to what I know is going to be a manically busy day at the day job. I am not naturally a morning person. But I know from experience that if I want to find time to write I have to schedule it, and morning is the best time. I’m too tired by the time I get home from work to get any writing done.
So if I don’t do it for the money, it’s not a hobby, and it’s not fun, why do I write at all? This is actually a very good question, and it’s one that is surprisingly difficult to answer.
The best I can come up with is that I do it because it’s a part of who I am. Because not doing it is an alien a concept as not breathing. Because if I didn’t do it a part of me would die inside. It’s because of that I deal with the crushing self-doubt, the early mornings, the frustrations of trying to get my work out there.
If I didn’t write, I wouldn’t be me. And although that it’s difficult to explain this to non-writers, I know that other writers reading this are nodding their heads in agreement. Who’d choose to be a writer? We don’t choose. If you’re born a writer, you have to write. Simple as that.
As a writer with a separate day job, I completely agree! Couldn't have said it better.
Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.
She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later. It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.
Her horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN will be released by MuseItUp Publishing later this year, and the third novel in her amateur sleuth series, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, will be out in 2017.
Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com). You can also follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend) and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500282.Sara_Jayne_Townsend), and buy her books from Amazon (UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B003QROE8S and US: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003QROE8S).