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And in my spare time, I solve mysteries

I am a writer, but I am not a writer first. My life is full of things which are not writing. Many of those things are more important or more urgent than writing. I know a lot of other writers and this is true for most of them. Life gets in the way of writing, but we put up with it because all that interference give us experiences to write about. Or at least in theory. A lot of my personal interference has to do with dishes, laundry, and carpooling, not really the stuff from which gripping drama can be crafted.

I am constantly amused by the portrayals of writers in written and televised fiction. They spend very little time actually writing. Instead they’re off having adventures, or relationships, or solving mysteries. (Some examples: Murder She Wrote, Castle, As Good as it Gets, Bones, Romancing the Stone.) This is because watching some one write is boring. Often being the person doing the writing is tedious. Even when doing the writing is thrilling and invigorating, all the excitement is internal. From the outside it just looks like a person typing, and maybe smiling, occasionally cackling with glee. It looks a little disturbed, but not fascinating viewing for extended periods of time.

So what does a writer’s life really look like? The answers are as varied as the writers themselves. I know writers who are students, government employees, stay-at-home parents, business owners, teachers, and just about any other life role you can think of. Some of the writers I know are full-time, writing is their primary job. But even these writers have lives that are full of other things. To be a full time writer is to own a small business and there are piles of administrative tasks involved. All of these other life roles reduce the amount of time a person can spend in the writer role.

In the past 3 months I’ve finally found writing time in chunks rather than snippets. It is luxurious to be able to spend two hours writing on a single day. Most often I get 3 or 4 fifteen minute spans of time during which I scribble notes or compose sentences. I use the time spent carpooling, dish doing, laundry sorting, to think thoughts so I can scribble them down when the opportune moment arrives. But some days there is no time for thinking or writing at all. This is why writer/mystery shows are complete fantasy. I don’t know any professional writers who have time to spare for wandering around finding clues.

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