October 27th, 2017

What IS a Writer’s Job?

Over the years, I’ve read many articles and listened to many talks about the job of a writer. Or the responsibility of a writer. I never really worried too much about those ideas, because I knew the job of a writer was to write the best story possible. 

Now that my first book is out in the world—even if it’s only been twenty-four hours— I’ve been considering my “job” with respect to people who pay money for, then read, my book.

Here are possible answers to the question:

  • To deliver an engaging tale
  • To deliver a message, be it social commentary, inspiration, or warning, in an engaging way
  • To deserve our readers’ time
  • To offer value to our readers
  • To offer hope
  • To present possible solutions to life’s problems
  • To allow readers to escape from their lives for a few hours
  • To open readers’ eyes to other “things” in life
  • To give readers a chance to laugh, or cry, or scream, or love
  • To incite imagination or creativity
  • To provide a safe environment for readers to feel emotions that might be unsafe in real life
  • To provide tales paralleling a reader’s life
  • To show how to “go another way”
  • To provide a reflective mirror for readers’ thinking, behavior, and emotion
  • To provide catharsis for the writer

This last option could begin a list of negative reasons to author a book. There are, no doubt, many. However we aren’t going into things like “payback” because if you’re here, reading this, you’re interested in your craft, and I’m betting you’re not writing for revenge or to bang some kind of drum.

There are those neophytes who are motivated purely by money and believe they can pound on their keyboards and, in the blink of an eye, produce a best seller. I’m betting this isn’t you either.

If you are like me, you have a real connection to your characters and their stories. You write because you have to tell the story of the people who’ve taken up residence in your heart and your head. You want to share this most marvelous story with others. And your reasons for writing this story might include several of the above list and more.

Take a moment now to think about why you write. If suddenly, reading books went to zero popularity, how would that affect you—in the not so obvious ways? How would your inner fire for writing fare? If writing fiction became illegal, what would you risk to share your voice?

Such a scenario seems unlikely, except in speculative fiction stories. But stretching your thinking can help you find what fires your passion for writing. And knowing why you write, may just improve your writing. I know that dealing with my job as author was important for me during the revision process for P.R.I.S.M. I know that the final revision was better for the time I took to “figure out” my own backstory and why it was important for me to tell this particular story. 

Next week on Wednesday, I’ll dig into the nitty-gritty of the how-to techniques for the above bullet points. 

 

What would you add to your writer job description? 

 

ABOUT FAE:

Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes  that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules.

Punished, oh-no, that’s published as a co-author of a math textbook, she yearns to hear personal stories about finding love from those who read her books, rather than the horrors of calculus lessons gone wrong.  She is grateful for good friends who remind her to do the practical things in life like grocery shop, show up at the airport for a flight and pay bills.

A “hard” scientist who avoided writing classes like the plague, she now shares her brain with characters who demand that their stories be told.  Amazing, gifted critique partners keep her on the straight and narrow. Feedback from readers keeps her fingers on the keyboard.

P.R.I.S.M., a young adult science fiction romance story of survival, betrayal, resolve, deceit, lies, and love.

When she’s not hanging out at Writers in the Storm, you can visit Fae at http://faerowen.com  or www.facebook.com/fae.rowen

23 comments to What IS a Writer’s Job?

  • Love this! –> If writing fiction became illegal, what would you risk to share your voice?

    What a great reminder of why we do this crazy thing! Thanks for the inspiration this morning, Fae.

    I didn’t risk that much, when I began writing, but I did get up 2 hours early every day to write before I got ready for work.

    I know moms who write on grocery receipts in the car, at soccer practice.

    If the passion drives you, you’re gonna write.

    • Fae Rowen

      Thanks, Laura! And you still get up early every morning to create your amazing books. My biggest risk was my privacy, and I guarded that for years. No one I worked with had any idea I was writing. Most still don’t… But when the need to release my characters into the world became greater than my need for absolute privacy, the risk/reward ratio changed.

  • I don’t know any writer who could “not write.” I mean for a day or a month, sure. But FOREVER? We’d all be keeping journals and diaries, and swapping them with each other inside grocery bags. I don’t know what I risk, but like Laura, I gave something up: TV and some sleep. My writing got better for that TV part. 🙂

    • Fae Rowen

      When I decided to publish my books, I disconnected the cable box and returned it. I gave my television away. I knew the TV could become a time sump for me, especially when I don’t want to do something else. I had to get rid of the “attractive nuisance” to free up lots of writing time.

  • christopherlentzauthor

    First of all, congratulations on your new book! So many “authors” have THE dream. Many chase it for a lifetime. Few catch it.

    As for me, I’m with Jenny. I can’t not write. (Don’t you just love a well-placed double-negative?) My brain is a bubbling cauldron and some of the goo oozes over the edges. If I don’t jot it down on my vast and ever-present collection of 3M sticky notepads, in my phone, on napkins (sometimes soiled), on toilet paper (never soiled), or even on used envelopes when I’m opening the mail, I just know that one GREAT idea will escape my clutches. I could go on and on by simply taking an inventory of the pearls of wisdom scattered on my desktop at this very moment, but I won’t.

    The point for me is this: writing isn’t a job. It’s part of me. It’s pieces of me that I decide to share with the world…for eternity…for better…for worse. If — and, hopefully when — I get paid for sharing my stories, that’s the cherry on top.

  • Fae Rowen

    Thanks, Chris! In today’s shifting market, we really do have to have a passion for writing. “It’s pieces of me that I decide to share with the world…” That. I didn’t realize how much of me is in my books until friends started calling and pointing out scenes that were no where near “real life” but had that kernel of truth from my life. Oh well, too late to edit out the juicy stuff…I’m lucky to be in the “cherry on top” section of the bleachers, too.

  • Great post Fae. A 2 arrow hit. One to the mind and one to the heart.

  • If it was illegal or there were zero readers, I would still write, but I admit I would be very discouraged. I love to share my stories with readers!

  • I’ve always been writing something, whether it’s poetry, journal entries, stories, or essays. Sometimes I wonder if I could stop writing novels, so I like your idea of thinking about why you’re writing what you’re writing. For me, I always have stories in my mind too, and I’ve discovered how wonderful it is to write them down, edit and polish, and share them with others who can live the story with me (or at least my characters). Great post, Fae.

    • Fae Rowen

      Thanks, Julie. I guess I’ve written all my life, mostly poetry and songs when I was younger. I write in my head, revise scenes until I love them, and when I’m finished with one story I move on to the next. For me it’s a decision about what to commit to paper, then what to share with the world.

  • This post makes me think that a writer is on his own Hero’s Journey and the writing is the Answering the Call part. I have a feeling the analogy can stretch over the parts of the journey, but it’s 3 a.m. and if I try to think that through it might fall apart–or I will.

  • I think there’s a difference between being a writer and being an author. I have always and will always write, it’s how I express myself, how I know myself and how I solve my problems. But being an author, that’s a job. The research, the revising (oh, the revising), the seeking ways to improve and then seeking ways to be published are all done as part of the job.

    I remember reading a great story about a famous author at a writers’ conference (I believe it was Steven King but I can’t quite remember) who closed his address by saying, “After this there is the cocktail party and you’ll mingle and make contacts and share writing advice and that is great and it’s part of being a writer. But I will go back to my hotel room now and try and get my protagonist out of the corner I wrote him into, so that I can get my manuscript to my agent by the deadline. And that is being an author.”

    • So true, littlemiss. And an important distinction. So many never finish one story, and they’re off on another. I could never do that, but if that’s the part that makes you happy, I say, go for it!

    • Fae Rowen

      “Oh, the revising” is the truth, littlemissw! That is certainly work, and must be credited as a labor of love, because otherwise I wouldn’t slave over every word–through multiple revisions. I love your story about the speaker missing the cocktail party. I thought I could revise three books in six months. Not only was that timeline ridiculous, I missed way more than a cocktail party because I was so focused on “getting the job done.” But the passport is coming out again in 2018!

  • […] Last Wednesday my post suggested several possibilities for a job description for writers. If you missed it, you can read it here. […]

  • […] Last Wednesday my post suggested several possibilities for a job description for writers. If you missed it, you can read it here. […]

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