A few weeks ago, I posted about the general disbelief that I've experienced from other people when I tell them I'm a novelist.
This topic came to the forefront of my mind a couple of days ago due to a Twitter conversation. Twitter Goddess* Julie Anne Lindsey related a conversation with her neighbor in which he commented that she'd "wasted a year of her life" writing a novel.
I've been simmering about it ever since, mostly because of all the responses I'll never get to deliver. They'd go something like this:
Wasted, you say? Let me tell you something, pal. I spend a lot of time toiling away at what I do. I create worlds. I breathe life into characters. And sometimes, I have to do bad things to them. My stories haunt me almost all of the time. I sit down and slap words on a page, delete a lot of them, replace them (often just Ctrl-Z-ing because I was right in the first place), agonize some more, and generally bust my arse until I can type "The End."
Then I get to rewrite. A lot. And edit. And then I get to pretend I'm a graphic designer and do a cover.
Oh, I think it's worth mentioning that this is all in addition to my day job.
When I finally decide that my product is "good enough" (because I'll always believe I can make it better), I'll put it out there for anyone to see. Do I want to make a living off of my work? HELL yes. I make no apologies for that.
Even if I didn't make a dime, I'd still do it, anyway. If some people tell me how much they enjoyed it, that's good enough for me to justify my effort. Honestly, if I'm the only one who ever reads it, and I love it, then it's time well-spent.
But you know what is a colossal waste of time? Everyone like you telling everyone like me how you believe we're on a fool's errand. Have you ever read a book? Who do you think wrote them? Angels? Superheroes? A tribe of genetically-engineered überauthors?
Because it was people like me. People you see on the highway, at the grocery store, along your property line. Maybe next time, instead of telling me how you think we should better spend our time, do something crazy.
Ask about our work. We'll be more than happy to share it with you.
If you choose not to, if you decide that you'd rather denigrate what amounts to our second job (but first love), I'm sure I speak for a lot of people when I say, "Shut your fool face."
*I owe myself a quarter in royalties.