Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Unglamorous Life of a Writer

by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

If you’ve hung around the writing world for long, you’ve heard it before . . .
  • Being a published author does not magically fix all your problems.
  • Being a published author does not mean you’ll spend your days fending off random fans when you’re buying groceries.
  • Being a published author does not mean you’ll spend your days in a lovely office overlooking a serene pastoral setting as you churn out novel after novel. 

But . . . come on. It has to help. Right? It has to be more good than bad. At least when you get “The Call” or reach new writing milestones, there will be parties and well-wishes and celebratory balloons falling from the ceiling. Right?

Well . . .

I did hear one story where an author went to check in for a flight and the ticket clerk looked at her license, and then looked at her, and then promptly bumped her to First Class after telling her that she reads everything she writes.

So, it happens! But my highly (un)scientific research has revealed that these kinds of events happen about as often as a total solar eclipse traverses the entire country.

In the interest of bringing you the true side of the publishing life, here are a few representative samples of the real, (un)glamorous lives of published authors.

One author shared that after years in the industry they were on the leadership team at a major conference. On the first day, they had been talking to one of the authors on faculty for several minutes when that author asked, “And who are you?” #ouch

Another author shared that while working from home, she had lined up a phone call with the state attorney general’s office. She was trying hard to sound professional and get the quote she needed. In the middle of the interview, her two-year-old daughter wandered into the room, put her mouth next to her ear and loudly announced, “Mommy, I pooped my pants.” There was dead silence on the other end of the phone, followed by, “Um, do you need to go?” The author about died of embarrassment (but she got the quote!) #toomuchinformationalert

When people started sharing their not-so-glamorous moments, one thing that came up frequently was the “crazy” call story. No matter how much we say we know that “the call” won’t make our lives perfect, we still have a bit of a romantic notion about how it all happens. We think angels sing, or maybe there’s a shooting star, or a spontaneous party with all our closest friends will materialize out of thin air and we’ll celebrate all night.

As you’ll see, it doesn’t quite work that way.

One author shared that she was at work and missed a phone call from New York. She knew it was “the call.” So she went outside to try to find a space with some privacy. She found a secluded picnic table under a blossoming cherry tree—a lovely spot for this big moment, right? Unfortunately, during this all-important phone call a bird decided to start chirping. The more excited the author became about the good news, the louder the bird chirped. She tried to move away from the bird, but the bird followed her around! She spent most of the call with one hand over her ear and barely heard half the things her new editor was saying, eventually arranging to talk to the editor later! #Notsojoyfulnoises

Another author shared that after several years of difficult circumstances, she’d finally submitted a requested full manuscript to an editor. Months went by  . . . she heard nothing. She was on a trip visiting family and some of her family members suggested that maybe novel writing wasn’t the direction she should go. With those words pinging around in her brain, she and her daughter stopped at Chick-fil-A to grab some drinks for the road. Right as she pulled into the drive thru lane, her phone rang. It was her agent. She pulled up to the register at the moment her agent told her the book had sold. She let out a yell so loud she made the girl at the register jump! She couldn’t stop whooping it up so her daughter leaned around her and explained that she wasn’t having a mental breakdown, but that she’d just sold her book. #theygotthedrinksforfree

And last but not least, one author was on her way to the local home improvement store to purchase a new toilet when her phone rang. She sat in the parking lot as her agent gave her the good news that her series had sold. When she hung up the phone, she wiped away a few tears, turned, and shared the news with her young son who was only mildly impressed (because the toilet shopping was really why he had come along). So she went inside and bought the toilet. Shockingly, no one in the store noticed that she’d just had a dream come true. And that evening was spent, not at a party, but installing a new toilet. #prioritypotty

The truth is that the writing life is a lot of work. That you can get the best news ever and not be able to tell anyone for weeks. And that even when your dreams come true, life goes on and on and on.

So how about you? Do you have a truly glamorous—or crazily unglamorous—story to share with us in the comments?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

A peek at the unglamorous life of a writer - @LynnHBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

The truth is the #writing life is a lot of unglamorous work - @LynnHBlackburn (Click to Tweet)

Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, Hidden Legacy, releases June 2017. You can follow her real life happily ever after on FacebookTwitterPinterest, Instagram, and at


  1. Lynn, I love this post! I've been called a "real, live arthur." Also, I love the misconceptions that we writers are rolling in money!

    1. Oh, DiAnn! A real, life arthur! I'm laughing as I type. That's awesome! :) And yes - my family keeps teasing me - asking when we're buying a house in the Hamptons like Richard Castle. :) They are totally joking and we all have a good laugh over it, but it is crazy how people assume writers are loaded.

  2. When Eva let me know she was offering me a contract, I was in the grocery store with Gus, who had recently begun potty training. My big moment was punctuated by loud cries of, "I got to pee!" So very glamourous. Then when I told people how excited I was to publish a book, they quickly burst my bubble with, "So how much of an advance did you get? Don't writers make a lot of money?" #whatsthat

    1. LOL!! I love it! And yes, the money. Grrr. As much as I love JK, we aren't all living in Scottish castles...mercy!

  3. Ain't nothing glamorous about receiving rejection after rejection. However, your post made my morning. Thank you, DiAnn.

  4. Ain't nothing glamorous about receiving rejection after rejection. However, your post made my morning. Thank you, DiAnn.

  5. Love this, Lynn. So funny and I needed the laughs today.

  6. I can't top any of these stories, Lynn, but this was a hilarious post! #muchneededcomicrelief

  7. LOL! Needed this laughter today. Thanks, Lynn.

  8. Wait. Just to clarify. The singing angels, shooting stars, and spontaneous party are NOT going to happen when I get The Call? This is an awesome post! Thank you for the laughs!

  9. I was at the Florida Word Weavers Retreat in 2014 when I received an email from Guideposts Magazine. The story I submitted for the Guideposts writing contest wasn't a winner, but it had been chosen for the January 2015 issue. They said my editor would contact me to arrange a photo shoot.

    I tried to maintain some semblance of propriety but couldn't. I was sooo excited. When I told Eva Marie Everson she was almost as excited as I was.

    The cool thing about it was I had made the Guideposts contact at FCWC that year and received guidance and encouragement to submit to the contest.

    I think I did hear a small angelic chorus that day.

    Thanks for a fun post.