Wednesday, April 14, 2010

FIRST THINGS FIRST: When You Love Your Job

A friend once told me, “Love your job and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

If only it had been true.

A funny thing happened when I put pen to paper, signing my name on that first Harlequin Mill & Boon contract. My writing became more than something just for me. It went from being my passion, my outlet, my sanity and fantasy and too many other things to count, to also being my job. Let me qualify that. My dream job—I get to shred hearts, salvage souls, and detail ripped abs for pages on end...definitely a dream job.

And with it came an unexpected mentality shift, not only for me, but for my family and friends as well. This hobby I’d been indulging in/obsessing over, had become a paying gig. And the demands of a dream (long hours holed up in the office and a near perpetual state of distraction) that previously spurred guilt heavy sighs and irritated eye rolling were suddenly getting all kinds of street credit.

The husband no long groaned in protest every time I tried to sneak off for an illicit rendezvous with my laptop. Now he mostly understood. I had a deadline.

It was awesome.

After years of scrimping for time to write, I finally had a justifiable excuse to say, “Oooh, sorry, baby. I’d love to help you reorganize that attic storage closet, but this deadline… I’m behind on word count.”

And the best part? The excuse was totally legit.

But there’s a flipside to that justifiable excuse. And it sounds something like this… “I’m going to have to bail on Dirty Book Club tonight, I’m just too far behind. I have to write.” Yeah, you read that right. Have to not Get to.

Now don’t misunderstand. I love writing.We’re talking love with the intensity of a self-made billionaire’s penetrating gaze, love.But there are times when I’ve had enough—only I haven’t doneenough. When I’ve spent every night for two weeks locked in my office, struggling to figure out how to fix a conflict issue… and more than anything, I really want to join my husband for a glass of wine on the front porch. But the deadline is in two days. And if I don’t hit it, there’s a ripple effect that goes well beyond me—to my editor, the artists, the other authors, the other lines etc… So rather than take the night off, I write. Again.

And that’s when my dream job feels like work. A different brand of work than what I was accustomed to back when the writing wasn’t yet a job. But the thing of it is. Even when I have to make myself write. I love it. I love the sense of accomplishment when I save my manuscript that last time, changing the file name from “suckprojectfromhell.doc” to something like “HotAffairFullMS.doc”. I can’t wait for the feedback from my editor. Can’t wait to add the new title to my coming soon page. Can’t wait to get my hands on that fresh box of author copies that just takes my breath away. And best of all, can’t wait for that first reader review.

Sure, there’s work. From the rough draft of your first story, through your umpteenth published title, there’s going to be work. That part never really goes away. Some of the hard parts change with where you are along the road to publication, and some of them stay the same. But no matter what the obstacles, roadblocks or challenges, when you love your job, the work is worth it.

WILD FLING OR A WEDDING RING? is available now for download from the Mills & Boon site. Look for it in print in the UK May and the US in June. Mira's second book, TABLOID AFFAIR, SECRETLY PREGNANT!, will be out in November 2010.
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Come back next month for FIRST THINGS FIRST as we follow Mira's journey through the first year after The Call!


  1. Hi Mira

    Thanks for an interesting post - love hearing about your ongoing journey. As a wannabe, I think having legit reason to write is something I crave more than anything. It would certainly justify hours, days, weeks, months on end spent in front of the laptop and the many many times thinking 'what's the point?'

    Thanks again for the insight!

  2. It goes without saying, I loved Wild Fling........and this is such a creative post!

  3. Oh Mira - FABULOUS post! That's exactly how I think of it too.

    There are moments I might &itch and moan, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.


  4. Janette, so glad you enjoy the posts! The justification of a contract definitely helps, but until the contract comes, I found the best answer to What's the point? being... because I love it. With a close second... because it's like a sick compulsion, where I get the shakes if I go more than a day without clacking away at the keyboard, lol.

    Marily and Kate- ((hugs!!)) Thanks much ladies!

    Donna, I know. One day the husband looked at me and said "Why don't you just quit?" I think I was deep in the spaz about a deadline I didn't think I could make and had gone into rant mode. Boy, that suggestion snapped me right out of it,lol! I was stunned. Looked at him like he was CRAZY and couldn't believe he would dare suggest such a horrible thing, lol. He backed away slowly, and has not made such an outlandish suggestion since. :-)

  5. Hi Mira,
    I know just what you're talking about. It took me 14 years to get from first page to the call. Fortunately, I had a dh who would say-"Don't bother your mother. She's writing." I will love that man for eternity. He understood-still understands my strange passion! (And yours.)GRIN

  6. Lyn, doesn't that support make all the difference? You're very luck for sure!! :-)

  7. Boy, do I know it! Especially when it took 14 years!

  8. Great post, Mira! Even though I know the amount of work and dedication I put into writing will be so much greater, I cannot wait to be in your position. Mostly because I hope it'll bring me the same kind of support you now have as well. :)

  9. I always try to make my deadlines, but I don't freak if I don't. Sometimes life happens - and editors understand that. It's okay to give yourself a break - and to talk to your editor if you think you might need some extra time.

    It is why I rarely ever work evenings or weekends. I need the re-charge time!

    One time I broke my wrist 3 weeks to deadline. My editor was awesome about it - and this was our FIRST book together. I was only a few weeks late in the end thanks to a great cast. There usually *is* some wiggle room. It's not worth losing your mind over. :-)

  10. Wow, I just made it sound like I never made my deadlines, didn't I! (Bad Donna!) Generally I do - maybe even with a few days to spare! But there have also been times I've needed an extra day or two on the other side. LOL

  11. Totally, Molly. The support makes all the difference in the world. I know for me, it was very tough finding a balance between keeping up at home and working toward my dreams, particularly because we've still got preschoolers in the house. My husband was frustrated by the time I TOOK AWAY from the family to pursue a dream he wasn't sure would ever come. We still live in a constant state of catch up...but it's definitely easier for both of us to feel good about the extra effort we have to put in, since there's something actually coming back.
    Hang in there! ((hugs))

  12. Donna, you slacker!!! Lol, no I totally get what you are saying. I'd like to stop freaking out, but really it's in my nature to tend toward stress. I'm hoping I fall into an easier pattern with this next book...or maybe the one after that, lol. But for now, I'm still learning what I can do in this new framework for writing. :-)

  13. Mira, did you know I'm a panicker? Imagine my surprise when I just received heavy revisions and I bypassed the whole panic stage?! I wondered if there was something dire happening to me. I always panic for at least 24 hours. It was kind of nice not to.

    The first year - what you're blogging about - is FILLED with adjustments. This is one. In a few years, some of this will feel a lot more settled.

  14. lol, Oh so looking forward to that, Donna! Way to go on your "no panic" revisions!! Taking a page from your book, today I'm not going to panic over my apparent inability to get troublesome chapter in line. *in through the nose, hold, out through the mouth*

  15. I'm a workaholic. (In fact, I only ever stop to network on, um, Facebook, romance forums, romance blogs, etc. etc. lol!) So I love contracts and deadlines because they legitimize my extremely boring daily commitment to writing. And my husband never invites me to have wine with him on the porch. We don't have a porch, of course, but even if we did, he wouldn't. Usually too busy watching TV programmes about werewolves or exploding helicopters or how to fix motors. So writing means I get to avoid watching those lovely shows with him. ;)

    Wouldn't change it for the world!