Things NOT to Ask Writers

When we are children there are literally a million ways to strike up a friendship, from asking to borrow a crayon to walking up and poking another kid you’ve never met in the back of the head. Kids are simple that way. Adults are trickier because we rely mostly on polite conversation to suss out some information on each other. We ask common questions that everyone can answer with a relative amount of ease, and one of those questions is inevitably, “What do you do for a living?”

Now, since I have a day job that is completely unrelated to writing, I’ve rarely had to experience the frustration that follows as one grits their teeth, struggles to keep their eye from twitching, and grudgingly admits, “I’m a writer.” I have, however, heard many horror stories and had a few minor experiences myself as a result of people actually catching me in the midst of writing. “Horror stories?” you may ask. Yes, horror stories. Because, the thing is, for reasons I’ll never quite understand, when people discover a writer they immediately plunge into a torrent of questions, many of which are extremely rude and annoying. It’s a strange thing, as though the profession of “writer” is automatically up for intense scrutiny.

Most writers will clench their jaw and try their best to answer the onslaught of questions with a smile plastered on their face, even though on the inside they’re screaming. So on behalf of my fellow writers, I present to the rest of you a list of questions to avoid and why we hate it when you ask them.

Haha, very funny Google. You're not helping.
Haha, very funny Google. You’re not helping.

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“You’re a writer? So, you don’t work then?” or “Oh, that’s cool, but what’s your real job?”

I’ll never understand this myself, but unless you’re an extremely well-known author like Stephen King, or you work as a screenwriter for a popular TV show, people don’t seem to consider writing to be a “real” job. Correct me if I’m wrong, fellow artists, but I feel like writing is the only one of the arts to enjoy this stigma. There’s just something about writing in particular that makes people imagine that it can be a hobby, but not a career.

So let me clear things up: writing is as much a job as anything else. It entails a lot of hard work (more on that later), and if you want to be good at it you have to spend a boatload of time on training, research, practice, keeping up with business trends, networking with peers and important possible business contacts, and, oh yeah…the actual writing.

Just because something sounds fun and easy doesn’t mean that it is, and just because what someone chooses to do with their life isn’t a 9-to-5 with a regular bi-weekly paycheck and benefits doesn’t mean that it isn’t a job.

“What’s your story about?”

Non-writers, I know you think this question shows polite interest, but the question itself is an ignorant over-simplification. This question implies that an intricately woven tapestry of characters, setting, and plot line – something that may have taken months or years to construct – can be easily explained in a couple of sentences. But trust me, non-writers, it is no easier to give a brief description of what we’re writing than it is for a mathematician to explain calculus to someone who has never done it before. It makes us sweat, because we’re caught between making our story sound stupid (“Uh…um…it’s about zombies.”) or putting you in the position of listening to the entire life story of the novel so that you understand what it’s truly about.

If you’re honestly curious about what the writer is writing, a better question would be, “What kind of genres do you write in?” or “Are you working on anything special right now?” If the writer wants to talk about their current work-in-progress, questions like these will pave the way and let them know that you’re actually interested, not just being facetious.

“Have you made any money writing?” or “How much do you make writing?”

For the life of me I’ll never get why people think that this is an okay road to go down. With pretty much any other profession on the planet it is considered extremely rude to ask someone how much money they make (unless you’re already good friends and are comfortable with that kind of sharing), and yet people are constantly asking this of writers. It not only comes off as rude and nosy, but it immediately gives off the impression of disbelief in the writer’s ability to earn a living, which is much, much more than rude.

Do everyone involved a favor, non-writers, and just never bring money up. It’s none of your business and it can come to no good.

“Can I read your book before you publish it?”

No. No, no, no, no, no. There are so many things wrong with this request, but I’ll go with the one that everyone (hopefully) should be able to understand: something for nothing. Would you ask an architect to design a building for free? Would you ask a doctor to do surgery for free? Would you ask an electrician to wire a house for free? The answer in every case is a resounding NO, because it is ridiculous to ask someone to use their time, energy, education, and experience to do something for you for free. It is no different to ask a writer to let you read something (for free!) that you know damn well they’re trying to earn a living with. If you’re really that interested to read, go out and buy the damn book.

“Do you really expect to make a living as a writer?”

Here’s the thing…you can take any highly successful profession on the planet and there will be people who failed miserably at it. Young people with excellent GPAs will flunk out of med school because they can’t handle the pressure. Incredibly intelligent lawyers may fall apart on the stands because they’re no good at public speaking. Genius engineers may make a tiny mistake in their calculations that end up costing companies millions.

I get that the artistic fields (art, writing, music, acting…) are extremely difficult to break into and that the idea of the “starving artist” is a thing for a reason. But that does not give you the right to talk down to a writer because you think their ambitions are too high. Unless you are this particular writer’s parent and you’ve got them bumming in your house rent-and-bill-free, it is absolutely none of your business how they choose to spend their time and whether or not they’re going to be able to survive as a writer.

“Do you really think that self-publishing is the way to go?” or “But you’re not really a real author until you’ve been properly published, right?”

First of all, non-writers, I’m willing to bet that the majority of you don’t know much more about publishing than it’s how books are printed. Therefore, I forgive you for not realizing that there have been enormous shifts in the publishing paradigm in recent years. I forgive you for not knowing that trying to get traditionally published these days is like trying to convince the judges at a dog show to let you enter your cat in the competition. I forgive you for not being privy to the fact that traditional publishing can take so long that your book’s topic may no longer be marketable by the time you’ve gotten it in print. I’ll even forgive you for not being aware that many, many very successful writers have been self-publishing in recent years as trends shift and they realize that self-publishing allows them the ability and freedom to control more of the creative process, distribution, and marketing than ever before.

What I will not forgive you for is asking questions like these when you know damn well that you have no idea what you’re talking about. Do your research first, and then maybe we’ll be willing to have a nice, sit-down conversation about the virtues of each method of publishing.

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I could keep going, but those non-writers who are reading this right now are probably already frowning at their screen and coming up with counter-arguments for why I shouldn’t be so uptight and just be happy that they’re interested enough to ask questions in the first place. So with that I conclude my list of super-frustrating inquiries and open up the floor to my fellow writers. How about it, guys and gals? What questions do you just hate to be asked as a writer?

Liebster Award 2014

It’s been a while since I received one of these, so I was thrilled a couple of weeks ago to see that Jwls MacKay over at 2B Creative had sent me a Liebster Blog Award. It’s always so great to receive peer recognition, and I particularly like this award because it is meant to be given to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, so as to help the gain some publicity. To participate in the award, you must answer the ten questions left to you by the person who nominated you for the award, then award ten more blogs that you think are worthy and send them ten questions of your own.

So without further ado, here are my answers to Jwls’ questions:

1. When did you begin blogging on WordPress?

My first WordPress post was written and published on February 19th, 2012, right after creating this blog. I had had several blogs, journals, websites, and the like over the years and I’d finally decided that it was time to start acting like a professional. I closed down many distractions that had been fun at the time but ultimately served me no purpose or had no future in my life, and consolidated my online presence to what I felt were the most important sites: Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and a few others that serve a purpose. Then I created this blog to bring it all together and to give myself a place to interact with the world while writing consistently and building my own personal voice. It hasn’t grown as fast as I might have hoped, but it still amazes me every day to see that people are, in fact, logging on to read my words.

2. What is your main focus on your blog?

It started as a place to talk about writing, being a writer, and the writing process. I soon established that this kind of focus isn’t really sustainable in the long term, and it is also only really interesting to other writers. I started splicing in little stories about my own life, my opinions on things, and bits and pieces of fiction that I’d written. These days I would say that my “focus” is simply maintaining an online presence while sharing my writing and my style with the world.

3. What inspires you to write?

Art of all kinds, whether it be ancient or modern, prose or poetry, adventurous or romantic. I draw inspiration from others’ books, TV shows, movies, and video games. I see what other people have done and I think to myself, “I can do that.” When something of another person’s creation gets my heart pounding, or makes me cry, or makes me think, or turns me on, or blows my mind, or gives me goosebumps…that is what inspires me to write.

4. What is your most unusual writing place?

Probably the one I’m using right now. I’m currently scribbling this post in a 3″ notepad while I sit in a trailer full of instrumentation techs (my coworkers). I’m wearing two layers of clothes underneath a pair of dirty coveralls with screwdrivers and wrenches in the pockets, and I’m leaning the notepad on my lap as I write because the table I’m sitting at is covered in work folders, paperwork, and our lunches.

5. Does music inspire your creativity?

It depends on the music. Pop music…absolutely not. But a more classical piece…yes. Music with words doesn’t really inspire me most of the time because a lot of what’s out there is just a pile of carbon copies of the same few themes: I love you, I hate you, I miss you, I wanna party, I wanna do nasty things. But with classical music you can imagine your own story emerging from the highs and lows, the beautiful melodies and the dissonant notes. I find that kind of thing very inspiring, not to mention peaceful and relaxing.ย 

6. Why do you follow blogs?

The simplest explanation is usually the correct one; I follow blogs because I enjoy reading them. I like hearing about what my peers have to say, what they’re worrying about today, or what achievements they’ve enjoyed recently. I also feel that “author platforms” and social media communities are a two-way street. If you want your blog posts (or status updates, or tweets, or whatever) to be read/followed/liked/commented on, then you have to take the time to do the same to others’ work.

7. What other creativity sites do you belong to? (Instagram, Instacanvas, writing.com, etc)

These days I don’t use many different creativity sites because I’m more I’m more about focusing on my blog and my fiction writing. I have an old DeviantArt account that I never bothered to close even though I never draw anymore, and I’m a member of Flickr only because it’s a treasure trove of images that I can use on the blog (if the owner has given the proper rights). As for sites that I really use, the big one is FanFiction.net. Since I love writing fan fiction, but can’t legally publish it, I love this site for sharing what I’ve written. I also have an account on the sister site, FictionPress.com, but I don’t use this as often. It’s meant for sharing original work, but since most of my original work is stuff I’d like to actually publish someday, I don’t tend to post anything there these days.

8. Do you believe the arts should be taught in school?

Not only do I believe it, but I feel that they should be given significantly more focus. I’m not saying that we should neglect important things like math and language, but I feel that artistic kids are given the shaft in today’s educational system. Creativity outside of the highly-limited art and music classes are generally frowned upon, as the system tends toward favoring wave after wave of little carbon copies who memorize and regurgitate. And I’m not just defending those kids who genuinely want to become writers, artists, or musicians…creativity is extremely important in many other fields, such as marketing, architecture, and journalism. Being able to think creatively can give kids a huge step up on an unlimited number of vocational options. Hell, being able to be a little creative and think outside the box is probably the only thing that makes me a decent instrumentation tech.

9. How old were you when you decided to develop your creativity?

Young enough to barely remember. I’d say the trigger happened sometime around the third grade. Back then was when I first started both writing and drawing. I wrote because it was fun, and it simply never stopped being fun. I drew mostly because I enjoyed the positive reinforcement I got from people when they saw me drawing. Eventually the positive reinforcement wasn’t enough for me…I wanted to actually get better, and it seemed like I never did, so drawing started to lose it’s appeal. Writing, however, has never lost any of it’s appeal to me, even during times of my life when no one was reading.

10. What is your paying occupation?

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m an Instrumentation Technician. Most people tend not to know what the hell that is, and the simplest explanation I’ve come up with is that I’m like an electrician, but I work with valves and control programs instead of motors and high voltage.

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Now, normally this would be the part where I nominate ten more blogs for a Liebster award. Unfortunately I won’t be doing this part, but I have a good reason…see, after the first ten minutes of sorting through the list of blogs that I follow it became evident to me that I’m one of the only bloggers I know who falls under the “200 or fewer followers” category. Almost every blog I follow has many hundreds, if not many thousands, of followers. I’m sure there must be a few blogs on my list that meet the criteria, but to be perfectly honest I’m not willing to spend the next few hours sorting through them. So, blogger friends, if you happen to fall under the category of having fewer than 200 followers, I officially nominate you for a Liebster. If you wish to accept and answer my questions, please leave a comment here letting me know so that I can check out your answers. ๐Ÿ™‚

That said, for any who wish to accept my open award, please answer the following questions:

1. When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
2. If you didn’t become what you wanted to become, why not?
3. What kinds of cartoons did you like as a child?
4. Be honest…are there any cartoons that you still watch now?
5. What is one skill that you really, really, really wish you had?
6. What TV show or movie could you watch over and over and over, and why?
7. If you could be any superhero in the known universe of superheroes, which one would you be?
8. What is one regret you have about your past?
9. What is one wish you have for your future?
10. If you could go back in time and tell your past self about your present self, what is something that past you wouldn’t believe about his or her future?

Hoping to see some responses!

“Assume” Makes an “Ass” out of U and M-…Actually, No, Just You.

I’ve mentioned this before, but in order to fully understand this post it bears repeating that I’m an instrumentation technician by trade. What this means, for those who have never heard of the term “instrumentation” is that I work with the machinery, special technology, and programing that makes plants, factories, refineries, and so on run. These days it’s a very technological field with lots of computer-intensive work, but less than two decades ago it was a very grease-monkey-esque kind of job. Even today, depending on which area you work in, there’s a lot of bull-work, messy work, physically demanding work, and good old fashioned beat-crap-with-a-wrench-until-it-works kind of work. In other words, it’s a male-dominated field.

grouppicWhen I first began working at the paper mill where I got my first career-related job, I was actually the first woman to ever be hired to work on the maintenance team. From the day the mill opened over 50 years ago, to the day I was hired approximately 7 years ago, the only women who had ever worked at that mill were secretaries, clerical workers, or the types of engineers who spend most of their time at a desk. I was the first one to actually be out in the field, getting my hands dirty, working on the machinery. In those first few months I got quite a few looks from the men – especially the older ones – and I can’t really blame them too much because I was 22, short and small, and unassuming. I looked like the kind of girl who spent a lot of time fixing her lipstick in the morning (a stereotype that was exacerbated by the fact that I’ve always worn bright red lipstick, regardless of what I was going to be doing that day). But here’s the thing; even though I got a few looks here and there, and it took the guys a while to get used to the fact that there was a woman on their team, the guys I worked with were civil. Even if they secretly thought I was a joke and that I should go home and find a job more befitting a woman’s stature, they never said anything. If they had a problem with me being there, doing the job that had been a man’s job for decades, they kept that attitude to themselves.

Where it belongs.

Fast forward seven years to the present. Last week I woke up to an unpleasant surprise. The plastic tubing running to the water filter in our basement split, and was spraying all over the room. It was quite a mess. The tubing was shot and the small valve that isolates that particular piece of tubing was faulty, so we had to turn off our main water line to stop the leak. Until the tube and the valve were replaced, we had no water.

Now here’s the thing; I’m an instrumentation tech, and my husband is an electrician. Neither of us is a plumber, but instrumentation is a hell of a lot closer to plumbing than electrical is. As part of my job I understand tubing and valves. They aren’t rocket science, especially when you’ve seen a million of them. So since my knowledge was a step up from my husband’s, I detached the broken parts, hopped in the car, and headed off to Central to get some replacements.

Here’s where the story goes sour, because, you see, Central has a lot of bits and bobs. In the enormous aisle filled with shelves and shelves of parts, I couldn’t locate the one particular valve I needed, and after a lengthy search I decided to ask for assistance. The man who was running the Plumbing counter was about 50 years old or so, and I could see the look in his eye the second I approached him.

A few extra bits of information before I finish this tale:
– I arrived at Central in the clothes I’d been wearing while dealing with the leak, which were dirty and wet,
– I was tired-looking and probably a bit stinky because I hadn’t had a shower yet,
– I was holding the broken parts when I approached the clerk,
– I quickly demonstrated my knowledge by asked forย  a replacement part by name, and explaining what size pipe I needed the part for.

In other words, everything about my appearance and the words that came from my mouth showed that I had been the one dealing with the problem. Regardless of all that, would anyone like to guess what the first words to come out of the 50-year-old male clerk’s mouth were?

“Well, hon, what your husband has to do is…”

It truly amazes me how in this day and age, a customer service representative would find it acceptable to jump to that sort of assumption. Also, he used that exact phrase at least three more times before I was finished talking with him.

IMG_0959I mentioned this encounter on Facebook later that day, once I’d (successfully!) repaired the leak and restored water to our home. The responses that I got were ones of empathy from friends who had dealt with the same thing. One woman had a real estate agent constantly hyping a large garage to her husband even though the husband doesn’t drive and it’s the wife who was interested in the garage in the first place. Another friend, who happens to be of a race with dark skin, was told by a salesperson in a formal clothing store that “someone like him wouldn’t be interested in those clothes”. Another man chimed in that he was once told that the most important thing women look for in buying a car is the cup-holders.

We all make assumptions sometimes – it’s human nature – but it amazes me how often those assumptions are put into play by people who should know better. So often these people are trying to sell you something and they don’t seem to be able to understand why it’s bad form to insult you in the process.

I have many other stories I could share on this topic, like the drum salesman who tried to convince me to pay an extra $100 to set up the drums for me (I built them myself in less than 20 minutes without instructions), or the furniture salespeople who used to ignore Jason and I because we wear geeky shirts and look young (we were making damn fine money at the time). I could probably go on and on forever, but I won’t because I’m convinced of something: that is, every person who is reading this right now probably has their own stories. Right now there are probably people reading this post who were accused of being fat cows when they were 9 months pregnant, or who were laughed out of a high-end clothing store because they weren’t “pretty enough” according to the snarky clerks, or who have seen mothers pull their children away from them because they have a lot of tattoos.

It’s a sad truth of humanity that these things continue to happen even in this day and age when we should have gotten past judging people by appearance alone. The old saying is that “assume makes an ass out of u and me”, but I disagree. To the jerk at Central who assumed that I was a fragile little thing who must be out fetching parts for my dear, manly, fix-it-all husband, I say this: assume makes an ass out of YOU, buddy. Me, I’m totally in the clear.

Have you ever had to deal with people making idiotic assumptions about you? How did you react? How did it make you feel? Please share!

It’s a Full-Time Job Just to Keep Track of the Jobs…

When I was in the eighth grade, one day our English teacher began talking about the difference between jobs and careers. I don’t recall much of the conversation except for this: he told us that on average each of us would have ten different “jobs” throughout our lifetime (and hopefully eventually end up with one “career”).

At the time I remember thinking how silly a statement that was. Ten different jobs? Preposterous! I was going to have one or two summer jobs, tops, then graduate from college and swoop right into my career. There I would stay for the rest of my working life, and retire a financially stable woman.

Kids are dumb.

Contrary to my childish beliefs, within two months of my 28th birthday (hardly my “lifetime”) I had already had the following jobs:
– A paper route (shut up, if you have to get up before sunrise it’s a real job)
– Cashier/server at the cafeteria in the Marine Atlantic terminal building
– Cashier/floor walker at Zellers
– IT assistant at the Coast Guard College
– IT assistant at Cape Breton University
– Cashier/floor walker at Walmart
– Cashier/floor walker at a different Zellers
– Cashier/stock person at a liquor store
– Customer service at a call center
– Instrumentation mechanic at a paper mill
– Instrumentation commissioning tech at Kearl Lake
– DCS commissioning tech at Kearl Lake

Twelve. Twelve jobs, and no careers. The job at the mill could have become a career if it weren’t for failing markets and the fact that even if I’d stayed there, there’s no way the mill itself will be around long enough for me to retire. Twelve jobs, and there will be more to come because even the one I’m at now is not permanent. I could be laid off any time now, and it’ll be on to the next one.

Thinking about this makes me wonder how many people ever actually make it to the “career” phase of life, and/or how long they are able to hold on to it in such an uncertain economy. Instrumentation, technically, is my career, but at any time I could be laid off and there’s never any real guarantee that I’ll find another position. Ideally writing would be my choice for a permanent career, but that requires sacrifices I’m not currently able to make, so that may never happen either. My husband was an electrician for four years, and is currently a stay-at-home-dad. My father drove trucks for pretty much as long as I can remember, but that’s between a couple of different companies and soon he’ll be heading out West as well. I know tons of people who went to college to train for careers they never ended up achieving, and just as many people who had careers and lost them for any number of reasons. Nothing is certain, and any of us, at any time, could end up in a completely different situation than the one we’ve been in, or the one we imagined for ourselves.

Look at your own situation. How many jobs have you had throughout your life so far? How many careers? Do you feel secure? Is there something you’d rather be doing instead? I’m interested. Please share. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lonely Bed

This morning I woke up alone in bed for the first time in a long time. The reason? My husband, like so many other Nova Scotians, has headed out ‘West’ for work.

Here’s the thing. My husband isn’t just some random guy with no education or experience who ran out West with hopes of making some quick cash. He has a college diploma in electrical engineering. He’s a 4th year apprentice Industrial Electrician, very close to become a Red Seal Certified Journeyman. He has a ton of safety training, and approximately 4 years experience in the pulp and paper industry. And we can’t find a job for him anywhere in Nova Scotia.

The same goes for me. I have a university degree (the same program as my husband, but with an extra year of programming languages tacked onto the end). I’m a Red Seal Certified Journeyman (Journeywoman?) Industrial Instrumentation Tech. I have a ton of safety training, and approximately 5 years experience in the pulp and paper industry. And again, I can’t find a job anywhere in Nova Scotia.

I don’t claim to know anything about business or economics. That’s not my thing, and even if someone were to explain it to me I’m quite sure I wouldn’t understand a word of it. But even if I had that knowledge, I think I would still find it impossible to comprehend how an entire province can be devoid of jobs in the trades, a classification of workforce that is enormous in other parts of the country. Just look at the aforementioned ‘out West’. Alberta has so many jobs in the trades that some companies pay for people to fly back and forth between their home and their job, while putting them up in camps during the work shift, effectively eliminating any cost of living. Meanwhile, the few tradesmen that we have here in Nova Scotia are paid a fraction of the wages and get none of those perks. I’m not saying that we don’t get a decent wage, but even a good wage looks pretty awful when you know that a few provinces over you could be getting two or even three times as much. And of course, the wages don’t matter in the slightest if the jobs aren’t even available in the first place.

And it’s not just the trades. Unemployment is as rampant in Nova Scotia as the exodus out West is. It just amazes me, I guess. The politicians in this province have been known to fight tooth and nail for dying industries (*cough*papermill*cough*), but they’ve got no drive toward attracting new, viable ones. The people here (retirees who don’t need work, I’m looking at you) have an awful habit of opposing the industries who do come knocking, usually claiming that they’ll destroy the province. Well I hate to break it to you, activists, but the province can be as pretty and environmental as you want it to be, but no one will be here to enjoy it in a few more years!

I know that for the most part I’m talking to a wall here. The people who agree with me are dealing with the same issues my husband and I are dealing with, and the people who don’t agree aren’t going to listen to anything I have to say anyway. So I guess in the end all I can say is that its a frustrating situation. I know my husband and I aren’t the only one’s dealing with it, but in this sort of case knowing there are others having the same issue isn’t exactly comforting.

Either Walk a Mile in My Shoes or Take Them Off!

One thing that I’ve noticed everyone does at some point in time is downplay other peoples’ jobs as “so much easier” than their own job, even if the job in question is something that person has never had to actually do before. For example, I’ve heard tons of people talk about how easy working at a call center is. “It’s just talking on the damn phone!” they say. But they’ve never worked such a job, and they have no concept of the psychological beating a person can take when being screamed at and/or hung up on all day. Hire someone to follow you around for a day, screaming obscenities and telling you what a worthless piece of crap you are, and you’ll get an idea of what quite a few call center attendants go through. And despite that, people still look at you like you’re crazy if you come home from a shift at the call center and start talking about what a hard day you’ve had.

This phenomenon is not only subjected to those who work in what we tend to think of as the “lowlier” types of jobs. I once had an electrician tell me that there’s “nothing to your job” (instrumentation technician) because it’s “just a little air”. For the record, the “little air” I was dealing with at the time was approximately 60 psi and was being applied to the movement of an industrial rotary valve. In other words, if used improperly, that “little air” could have resulted in my arm getting chopped clean off.

The fact is, we humans have a habit of bolstering the difficulty and importance of the things we do and assuming that the things other people do are simple and insignificant.

I think this might be one of the most frustrating issues plaguing writers and people who want to become writers. People who don’t write seem to think it’s one of the easiest things in the world to do, that it takes no time at all, and that the words just spill out in perfect format with no need to ever look at them again, never mind edit them. And as with my other examples, those people are ridiculously, laughably wrong.

Case in point: my 1000-words-a-day idea. I chose 1000 words because, based on the past few months of writing, I’ve established that 1000 words a day is a reasonable, challenging-but-doable amount. It can be difficult to squeeze those 1000 words in around dealing with the baby, cooking and cleaning, running errands, and all that other daily nonsense, but if I put my mind to it I can manage it. So let us assume for a moment that I accomplish my goal and manage to write precisely 1000 words every day. Someone who doesn’t write probably thinks that sounds great…I’ll have a novel published in no time! But hold up for just a moment…how long is a novel exactly? Well, for example, the first Harry Potter book is 76,944 words. That means if I based my own book off that one and wrote my 1000 words a day, it would take me approximately 77 days to write my novel. That, my friends-who-don’t-write, is before I look back and see all the mistakes I made, the plot-holes I created, the scenes I previously-thought-were-awesome-and-suddenly-realize-are-utter-crap, and so on and so on. Writing a novel is only half the battle (in fact, it might be more like 25% of the battle). The real pain-in-the-ass comes from trying to make the novel good by making sure your wording is correct, your sentence structure readable, and your overall story likeable. And that is a lot harder, and takes a lot more time, than it sounds.

What I guess I’m getting at is, before you assume that someone is complaining for the sake of complaining, or having a hard time at something because they’re just not trying hard enough, put yourself in their shoes and actually try what they’re doing. Write a story, deal with the editing process, and get that sucker published, and then you can turn around and tell me how easy you thought it all was.