There are plenty of ups and downs involved in being a mystery writer. Fortunately, the ups far outweigh the downs, or so I tell myself.
For some reason, when I tell people I’m a writer their first reaction is to ask if I write children’s books. It must have something to do with my appearance, but I’m not really sure. Actually, I don’t want to ask why they think that. “No,” I say, politely, “I write murder mysteries that are light reading with a little humor.” Their eyebrows shoot up like I’d just confessed to a murder.
I thoroughly enjoy writing mysteries. I’ve always liked puzzles, and creating them for a story is, well, fulfilling. It’s actually the most fun I’ve ever had while doing a job.
This leads to another comment. “Is this a hobby for you?” I sigh when I hear this. It’s not a hobby. It’s a job, but instead of heading for an office five days a week, I work at home seven days a week. I don’t bring home a weekly paycheck and that’s one of the downs. Paid vacations or sick leave? Forget it!
I do have bosses even though I work at home. Actually, there are many of these taskmasters.
Of course, your publisher is a boss, even if you’re self-published. You’re your own boss? Then you’re your own boss. You have standards to live up to and timelines to follow, along with many things I won’t go into here.
Time has become one of my biggest bosses, simply because there isn’t enough of it. If you’re not a big name author, you have to do most (or all) of your own marketing and promotion. You have to write the story, and you have to edit it and rewrite it until it’s the best entertainment you can offer to a reader. This takes a huge chunk out of your time. I should backpedal just a little. Big name authors have plenty of promotion to do, too. There are always presentations, book signings, panels to serve on, and more books to write. Believe me when I say I’m simplifying it, for all of us.
Another supervisor is the editor and/or critiquer. A good editor is worth his or her weight in gold, and someone you want to listen to, even if you don’t want to hear criticism.
There’s another boss, and this is The Big Boss – the reader. If you don’t please this person with your writing and story, they’ll fire you faster than you can blink. They’ll never buy another one of your books if you don’t satisfy them. Now that’s a distressing thought.
In the midst of trying to please all of these bosses, an author is also trying to keep family, friends, and even pets, happy. Happy, happy, happy. Everyone wants some of that time I said there’s not enough of, and of course, the newest book is still waiting to be worked on.
The next time you read a mystery, remember that this story didn’t write itself. Someone had to work to create the twists and turns, the characters, to plant the clues and red herrings, and to come up with the solution. They also had to answer to all of those bosses, along with a few others, during the process.
Until next time, if you’re a reader I hope you discover a good book, and if you’re a writer, I wish you more hours in the day.
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