The brilliant Gayle Forman, author of IF I STAY, is visiting us today with a very funny and interesting guest blog. Enjoy!
Because I write for a living, and have books that appear in bookstores, and on the jacket of said books there is a picture of me looking somewhat presentable, people have this conception that I somehow lead a very fabulous and glamorous life.
I find this endlessly amusing.
Because this could not be further from the truth. Take this morning as an example. After I dispensed with my mom duties—which today entailed registering my daughter for kindergarten, a Very Big Deal, and then dropping her off at preschool—I came home and finally had to admit that the smell of cat pee emanating from the littler-box vicinity was not just from the litter box itself, but the surrounding floor and wall. So I spent the next twenty minutes on my knees, holding my nose and scrubbing. I love my cat Scottie, but like a lot of boys, his aim is terrible.
Four days ago, my novel If I Stay came out and had reviews in newspapers and there were flowers delivered to my door and a fancy dinner that night. But that was for one day. The next day, it was back to real life. And real life is this: It is taking care of my family and dealing with my house. And then it is writing.
After the cat pee was cleaned, I took a shower, which is unusual for me so early in the day. Most days, I simply get my daughter dressed, make her cinnamon toast, make her lunch, send her off to school (her dad takes her) and head straight for my computer, still in my pajamas, and work until it is time to go pick her up from school. I often don’t bother showering. Hair washes have low priority (especially in winter when it’s cold and I don’t allow ample drying time before I have to venture out into the elements). I often forget to eat lunch, which is why I have taken to making smoothies for breakfast, so at least I can drink a quick morning meal before I get down to working and neglecting to feed myself.
Because when I’m writing, when I am good and deep into a novel I’m working on, I can get totally lost in the best of ways. As lost, I hope, as my readers are when they open the cover of one my books. This is why I love what I do. Why every single day I am grateful that I have stories in my head to tell, the ability to put them onto paper, and that people like you are out there and willing to read them.
But the life of a writer, it is not one of glamour. It’s one of solitude, of a daily grind, of hardcore self-discipline. Of getting up, putting on the coffee, turning on the computer, feeding the cats, feeding the kids, sending them to school, and getting to work, and if you’re lucky, loving the work. The work is where the glory is. Not the glamour. Because the glamour—at least in my experience—is non-existent.
A lot of budding writers ask my advice on how to get started, so in case it’s not clear that this is a Blog Post With A Moral, I will spell it out: How you get started writing is by writing. Or, to quote an old journalism professor of mine who is also a very successful author: A real writer is one who writes. Even if she has to clean the cat pee first.
Thanks for visiting Ms.Forman.