A Writer's Life

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the birds and the bees

When people tell me that they wish they had my life, one of the things they long for is the freedom to set their own schedule; to work when, where and how they want.

The funny thing about being a writer is that I’m on the job 24/7. I do things that non-writers would recognize as work—answering email, typing on the laptop, taking meetings and so on. But sitting quietly with my eyes closed while I conjure up the next scene is also work, as is reading a novel, watching a movie, listening to and observing others in social situations, and dreaming.

For most people, the idea of always working is unconscionable. It’s insane, horrific or unhealthy. So why do it?

Because being a writer isn’t merely a job. It’s an identity.

It’s a funny ol’ business, this. I’m not sure how someone who doesn’t do this for a living, can ever really understand it. I’ll let you in on a trade secret…writers don’t fully understand it either.

As a storyteller, my role is to absorb and study the stories around me, internalize and process them, and then create something new from them. To do that, I must always be reading, writing and observing. That’s how I define work. Crazy, right?

These are the facts of the writer’s life.

In exchange for this total dedication, I get to work from the comfort of my own home, where the coffee is delicious and the dress code is relaxed. (After the great video conference disaster a few months ago, I’ve upgraded from pyjamas to fitness casual!)

I get to work anywhere in the world, or anywhere in the house.

So far I’ve written in Dublin, Edinburgh, New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. Very soon I’ll add Chicago to the list.

Right now, I’m sitting in a swing on my back deck enjoying the warmth of a summer day. My dog and two cats are here with me, a sparrow is chirping overhead and a bumblebee is in the flowerbed.

The hours are long and the income variable, but all in all, a writer’s life is pretty amazing.

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