Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Breaking the Romanticized Bubble

Yes, I'm sure you're confused. You're probably thinking "But we all love romance"! 

That is not the kind I'm talking about. I'm speaking of the romanticized ideas Hollywood and everyone else seems to have given us poor writers.

Ah, yes. A flower and some rustic string. Candlelight in a charming country bedroom.

We all know that this is how it works.

Don't all us sit in front of a spotlessly clean window (polished by servants, of course), penning our thoughts with black ink and a new quill pen? Our gaze drifts dreamily over the snow-covered lawn. Little white snowflakes drift downwards, dusting the picturesque snowman our charming newsboy-cap attired little brother has just completed.

A poodle lies curled up at our feet on a plaid blanket. The blazing fire in the hearth is a trifle too warm, and we allow our delicate lace shawl to slip from our shoulders. One touch of the little bell at our side, and the butler arrives with steaming hot coffee on a silver platter. We look up at him with a demure word of thanks and a request for some gingerbread.

Our final word is penned, the manuscript tied up with some brown paper and string, sealed, and shipped off to the publisher. There, it is applauded as a work of the masters, hailed by the ever-receiving public, and a check for $2,000 dollars (in British pounds) lands neatly in our hands by way of a telegram (delivered by a six foot, blonde telegraph boy whose looks could show down even Logan Bartholomew).  

This is how it works, correct?

Cue glass smashing in the kitchen as you sink to your chair wondering what you're doing wrong.

Anybody interested in learning how my last big word count came to be? You ready?

Sitting on the hard floor in a dark, cold church foyer. The icy wind was howling outside; my sister's violin students were squeaking out their rhythms just a few yards away. My fingers were frigid and I could barely type. My ear buds kept falling out and getting tangled in my hair, so I was caught between snatches of The Bible soundtrack I was trying to listen to and the sounds of A scale on the a very new beginner's violin. And I had no WIFI, so was unable to do the research I needed for my WIP....

And....I was there only after a very busy morning's work of cooking dinner, schooling the kiddos, trying to keep up with the 50+ business emails I get a day, cleaning the house, and giving piano lessons (because writers don't exactly get a $2,000 dollar advance).

Which of these two accounts sounds more familiar?

Ok, maybe our adventures in writing aren't always so dramatic. But still! I think we all agree that the Hollywood version is very much romanticized. Not all of us have the luxury of sitting around, sipping apple cider by the hearth, and writing without interruption.

But we can still do it! We can overcome the odds (some of them very tall) and manage to write. Maybe it's after all the kiddos are tucked in for naptime or for the night. Maybe it's while dinner cooks (what I'm doing now!). Maybe it's sitting in the dentist waiting room.

The point is, when we get over our false ideas of how a writer's life should be, we'll manage to squeeze the time in for writing. We'll learn how keep our train of thought during interruptions. And we'll learn to multi-task and prioritize effectively. Some people have the idea that we as writers only complete books because that is all we do, but no - we do lead regular lives. And we can be successful anyway. :)

(Hold that thought - my dinner is burning!)

OK! So what romanticized ideas have you overcome as a writer? What are some of the ideas the general public has for us writers that stand out as crazy to you?
Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!


  1. This is sooooo true. :) I spend days full of frustration because the characters in my head are caught in mid fight but I can't resolve the tension until I get caught up in laundry, keep three kids fed and clean, managed the homeschooling, and help my husband through a crisis. Writing comes after all the necessities, but it is still there. It is still a priority. I had to work like fiend all day to get everything done so I could get two hours of uninterrupted writing time to get that fight resolved, and I still didn't finish it until the next day's writing time. We definitely don't live in a Hollywood world. Though, sometimes we wish it were. :)

    1. Don't you feel terrible for those poor characters sometimes? I've left my poor warriors stranded with deep wounds and enemies about to kill them for days sometimes! Life just gets in the way. That oven timer goes off right in the middle of a sword-fight.... ;) It would be nice to have a butler, wouldn't it?

  2. Hi Alicia,
    Thanks for the good post! I've been following this blog for awhile. I really enjoyed the content and it really encourages me to keep up writing! I am a aspiring author and a friend of Perry.
    You're right though, we don't live in that Hollywood "paradise!" But I like to think of my writing as a bit of a reward after a long day. A time to finally help your poor characters solve their problems! Keep up the good posting!

    1. Hi Holly! Thanks for commenting. I am so glad the blog has been an encouragement. That's very true - writing can be and is a great reward. I hope you reach your goals with your aspirations as a writer! Keep it up.


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