People often ask me, “Ward, what’s your glamorous life as a novelist like?”
I usually respond, “People, it’s really challenging.”
Here I am, writing this blog piece in the back seat of my limo after my appearance on Good Morning America, trying to avoid spilling my mimosa on my Brioni suit as we jolt over the potholes in mid-Manhattan. Not for the faint-hearted.
Meanwhile, I’ve got James Patterson on the phone whining again. You know the recent novel that’s a collaboration between Bill Clinton and Patterson? Well, it was supposed to be between Clinton and me, but I had too many other obligations (like this blog post). So I farmed it out to Patterson. In fact, more and more of my novels (bearing my byline, of course) are outsourced to Patterson, who, in turn, outsources them to unknown novelists in Chinese factories.
Next, I have to fly to Universal Orlando for the ribbon-cutting of the Zeke Adams World attraction based on my Florida mystery series. It features animatronic beach bums that try to convince you to get off the tram, buy them beer, and party with them. It’s such a chore to go to Orlando.
Author blurbs are another great challenge I face. It’s almost impossible to find a famous author willing to sacrifice the time to read your novel and leave a complimentary quote. Stephen King has been begging me for years to give him a blurb, but I tell him, “Your books are just too long, Stevie. Sorry.” It pains me to have to say that.
Finally, the biggest challenge of being a novelist is an overactive imagination. Just now, a coworker barged into my office with client revisions, to remind me that I don’t in fact have a glamorous fiction career like I was imagining above. The truth is, I have a day job as an ad copywriter in which all of our clients think they can write better than I can. I have to find time to write my fiction early in the morning or after work, slipped in between household chores and family obligations.
My situation is pretty much the rule. For 99.9 percent of us, being a novelist is not about glamor, but about love. Love for the art and craft of fiction and for our fellow scriveners who toil away with little chance of fame but too much passion to give up. And love for our readers—may you be fruitful and multiply.