Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Myths About Authors

Some people have fixed ideas about authors: how they do what they do, what they enjoy, all their quirks and idiosyncrasies. In truth, authors and writers are at least as varied as those in any other profession, maybe more so. They are as varied as the topics about which they write. So, here’s my Top 10 author myths. (My apologies to anyone else’s list exposing author myths that I may have internalized over the years.

  1. The cozy writing nook. Creation requires the proper writer environment: a pen and ink at an antique roll top desk overlooking a flowering meadow or forest where woodland creatures peaceably come and go. Or maybe a modern in-home office in which the walls are bedecked with inspiration, awards, and a bulletin board for notes and plotting. While those sound lovely, a writer’s “office” may be a laptop on the couch or the dining room table. Maybe a closet/office. Maybe a bound journal and a sturdy pen. (I write on a laptop at the dining room table.)

    Where I write

    My work station. Note toys surrounding the computer.

  2. Quiet contemplation. The writer needs quiet and solitude to coax his/her brilliance forth from the ether. While some may prefer quiet, many authors write amidst constant noise and interruptions from devices or people either at home or maybe in a coffee shop. (See where I write above and you can deduce the noise and activity level in that environ.)
  3. Crazy artsy-fartsy ways. The author is an eccentric whose creativity must not be stifled. Quirkiness is of the utmost value. While there are many “artsy” authors, there are at least as many down-to-earth, feet-planted-firmly on the ground types as well. (I’m fairly certain no one has ever termed me “artsy.” One year when my husband and I made gingerbread Christmas ornaments, my own mother declared that my husband’s had more “country charm.”)
  4. Can’t do math. Abilities in language arts appear to negate ability in math and science. Authors can produce a thousand-page tome but are rendered helpless when left to calculate sales tax or determine the tip after breakfast. True for some, not for all. (I like math. I always have. And I was good at it. I can still work mental math problems infinitely faster than my mathematics-major husband.)
  5. Rolling in dollars. Having a book published equals major moolah. It’s a BOOK, after all. Authors can sit smugly behind their computers and watch the royalty payments roll in. Okay. This one is laughable. Especially in an era when so many readers expect to get the novel you slaved over for years as a free download. Very, very few authors make a sustainable income from writing. (My debut novel came out October 1. Money spent on writing and promotion well exceeded money earned from writing last year.)
  6. It’s all about talent. Writers are not made, they are born. You either have it or you don’t, and if you don’t, well, it’s hopeless. Talent exists, for sure, but I’m confident that most authors will contest that much of what is referred to as “talent” is more about studying the craft and working hard. That overnight sensation has probably been toiling at his/her craft for years before being “discovered.” (The more I write (and re-write) the more I see writing as a learned skill than a gift.)
  7. Alcohol. The most reliable source of inspiration comes from the bottom of a bottle. While many authors would enjoy a glass of wine, a beer, or even a mixed drink alongside the computer as they write, few will confess to drunkenness producing writing worth reading. Novel construction is a complex task best accomplished with your wits about you. (I enjoy a drink or two as much as the next person, but two’s pretty much the max. Writing is difficult enough sober; I can’t imagine trying it while sloshed.)
  8. Angsty personality. The author is a pensive, moody, introvert more comfortable in the company of cats and good Scotch (see above) than companionable friends and loving family. Authors are a motley bunch, from happy-go-lucky to gruff and belligerent, pretty much like the rest of the population. (I’m a laid-back, glass half-full kind of person. Life’s too short for so much angst, and my husband has us well covered in that department.)
  9. Tragic life. The writer’s life is a series of personal tragedies rendering the author’s biography an amalgam of the world’s greatest suffering. Authors suffer neither more nor less than the average Joe. What is unique is that they are often able to use that suffering to bring depth and authenticity to that about which they write. (I had a happy childhood with two loving parents who lived well into my adulthood. I’ve as yet not been the victim of violent crime, plague, or natural disaster, but there’s still time.)
  10. Coffee. The writer requires copious amounts of caffeine fuel in order to function, particularly when a deadline looms. Here’s the one on which I expect push back, but I do know of several non-coffee drinking authors. Some of us actually prefer a cup of tea.  What’s that? An audible gasp? (I’ve never consumed a cup of coffee in my life. I spent Easter wrinkling my nose at the awful java-flavored jelly beans included in our mix. Yuck!)

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8 thoughts on “Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Myths About Authors

  1. Love the list! I also write on a laptop at a dining room table that looks just like yours, including the mess of toys. And I love math. Not rolling in the dough, not angsty–some family members may disagree–but I do love my coffee! I’ve actually been drinking more tea lately though.

  2. I do enjoy having a beverage handy when writing, but I definitely don’t equate my beverages with any magical properties. That being said, coffee is usually my drink of choice and I *have* written quite a bit about that, even interviewing authors about their favorite kinds of coffee and methodology for creating the perfect cup! So, while I think there is some inspiration to be found at the bottom of a mug, I know it’s not really the coffee so much as the ritual. 😀

    • There’s definitely something to the comfort and ritual of a hot beverage. Maybe someday I’ll acquire a taste for coffee, but until then, I’ll stick with my tea. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. #5 is one which I’ve been so sad about since getting to know so many authors this past year – authors who have become dear friends. My mom told me the other day, “You should write a book and make a ton of money.” After I finished chuckling, I told her that the two things don’t usually go together. And – much like teaching – they SHOULD! (so says a reader)

    • Thanks, Carrie. My financial goals aren’t too lofty. I’d eventually like to be able to cover my kids’ school tuition by writing. Right now, quite honestly, I’m a drain on our finances, but with one book out less than a year, it’s about what I expected.

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