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The Strange Side of the Writing Life

  • October 17, 2016
  • Blog


Author Carmel Berman Reingold told me this story years ago: She ran into a friend one day and they chatted a bit before the friend said, “Are you still writing?”

Carmel smiled sweetly and (thinking of her many magazine articles and books) replied, “Yes, I am.”

“Oh, that’s good,” the friend chirped. “As long as you’re keeping busy.”

I find writing to be a peculiar profession in that no one says things like this to teachers or doctors or plumbers. And I wouldn’t dream of suggesting to one of them that when I retire, I’m going to be a plumber. As if it’s such an easy thing to do.

What does this all come down to? Perception. Thanks to TV and movies, many think the writer’s life is one that’s filled with glamour and effortless hours of writing best-selling prose. I used to watch the show Castle. How often did we see him actually write? (I can understand that. Watching me type away on the keyboard or scribble into a notebook would not be ratings gold.)

But still. It looks and sounds like writers don’t really work. I remember reading an interview with Charles M. Schultz, who said that most of the work went on in his head but he kept a sketchpad nearby so that if someone came in, they’d see him “working.”

Like I said, a peculiar profession. I have no answers to fixing the view, only one bit of advice for dealing with the comments that might make you want to tear out your hair.

Remember the golden rule: Be kind, and keep writing.


Photo by stux (Pixabay)

  • Anne Wagenbrenner • October 17, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I like these very apt observations! It’s hard to be kind, sometimes, but I’ll keep trying.

    • J. M. Levinton • October 17, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      That’s all we can do. 🙂

  • R.G. Emanuelle • October 18, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I wish I had a dollar for every (non-writer) person who assumed I was making a lot of money as a writer. I would be as rich as they think I am. 😐

    • J. M. Levinton • October 20, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      I hear ya.

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