I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Emotionally Exhausting Life of a Novelist

Folks, I’m exhausted. Seriously.

In the last few months I’ve been dealing with racial hatred, spousal abuse, parental control freaks, women on the brink of a breakdown, and false accusations of stealing a Super Bowl ring.

And that’s in my critique group alone.

My students have sent me to another planet to deal with creepy lizard-like villains, got me involved in a futuristic American Revolution, made me deal with a mother dying of cancer, and saddled me with a teenager with the gumption to investigate her father’s death.

I almost don’t have the courage to face my own hysterectomy, gun-toting biker, child-kidnapping situations, arson and murder. (That’s my own stories, folks, not actual hysterectomy, child-toting, gun-napping—see? It’s getting to me.)

On top of that I’ve started a new story and need to research how to sabotage the brakes of a car. Say a prayer that the Big Brother watching our Internet Google searches won’t take me seriously. At least I’m not writing one of those international thrillers. I’d hate to see the men who turn up on the doorstep of Tom Clancy.

Why didn’t someone tell me the emotional exhaustion writers face? I scarcely have the energy to carry on a conversation with my husband at supper. (Sorry, honey, the revolutionaries used their electro-rods on a redhead today, and they almost hung Birdie who opened a restaurant and broke the window of the preacher, and I just can’t take more drama. No. No. Sorry, that was the lizard creatures on the black planet with the rods and Birdie with the window and the preacher with the noose.)

On top of this, they expect writers to twitter and Facebook and ShoutLife and Linkedin—all bringing more emotional trauma with warnings that all 500 million Facebook users will know my phone number unless I immediately follow some incomprehensible instructions. This may increase those unwanted middle-of-dinner calls, but then I’m too emotionally wrought to answer the phone anyway, and my husband doesn’t have anyone else to chat with so maybe it isn’t too bad.

Nevertheless, I did spend precious writing time trying to figure out where to click and unclick.

Only to discover than our phone number is publicly listed on the Internet in the White Pages. Now someone please send me some incomprehensible instructions on how to waste more time removing that. Or not.

If that’s not enough, I had to face a cousin who can crunch numbers. After I boasted on Facebook that I’d written 3780 words in my WIP that day (and feeling plenty smug about it), he informed me that it amounted to 7.875 words per minute in an 8 hour day! Why did I get the clever relatives?

Well, hello, I can only type 7.875 words per minute because of all the Facebooking, twittering, blogging, and research googling. Add in all those words, will you, Cuz? (I’m so glad writers don’t do numbers.)

No one ever told me about the emotional trauma writers face. But I’m telling.

Now you know.

Tongue firmly in cheek, Teri


  1. Ha, ha, Teri. I love the part about your hubby needing someone to chat with anyway. :-) The life of a writer...

  2. The problem isn't my writing life, it's all my other lives vying for my time and attention! :-)

  3. Ava, you are so right! It's all my other lives . . . and my writing friends' other lives that I get caught up in too! Maybe writers need to seriously look into cloning?

  4. Love your perspective, Teri. :) Thanks for the smiles, and the "drama" you've added to my day! :)

  5. Thanks Jenness! Sometimes it's fun to laugh a bit!

  6. Thanks Jeanne. You know when you write something that you intend to be funny, you never know if it's really funny or not. Glad it brought a smile.

  7. That made me both smile and nod my head in agreement--and I don't have students asking for help with stories or numerous critique group partners!

    But it does get to you... I don't think I'll ever forget one morning in late July. After staying up past 12 writing a story in which it was currently winter, I woke up convinced there should be snow outside. And that's not even getting into how distracted I can be with trying to work out my characters problems for them!

    Heaven help me to remember that the sermon is for ME, not my (*whispers* fictional) characters. ;)

    Excellent post, definitely just made my day. It always makes my day when I sit in front of my computer screen smiling like a total goof at something I just read on a blog... =)

  8. Selina, awww, you made my day with your comments! Thanks.

  9. Winking at you Tamera! Loved getting to know you better at the conference!

  10. LOL Teri! That's the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. ;)

  11. Hey, Ginger--a little hyperbole for comedic relief. Sooo glad to meet you at last!

  12. Angela Bell9/21/10, 4:55 PM

    Lol! I'm sorry my creepy lizards have invaded your mind. I know how scary it is to have them slinking around armed claw and fang. Yikes!

    But no more. It's time for me to put them in their place. Zzzing! I've activated my electro-rod, and am herding the slime balls back to the dark planet.

    There. Glad that's done. They won't bother you again, Miss Teri.

    Unless . . . they escape and worm into the sequel! Duh duh duuuh! ;-)

  13. LOL, Angela! If they come back, I'll just send for another electro-rod as long as you promise to send one quickly.

  14. So funny Teri! I miss my fictional life. Seriously need to get back into it! Wink!

  15. Come back to the dark side, Amy!

  16. Thank you, Teri, for sending me to bed with laughter in my heart! It was so great to get to know you better at the conference.

  17. Ditto, Pat! So happy for the connections you made!

  18. Blog? Did someone say we had a blog? I'm so glad you were on top of things getting your post out, because I was too busy coming down off the high from the conference to think beyond getting home and back to work.

    I love the post - its amazing with all we do aside from writing that we get any writing done at all!

  19. Beautifully done (and fun.) Yes, we are committed to a strange occupation. So glad you're part of the team!!!