The Value of Real Life in Writing.

I once read a bumper sticker that stated

REAL MUSICIANS HAVE DAY JOBS.

As a musician and member of a bluegrass band, I can appreciate that. I mean, it could be ideal to sell all I own and simply tour the country full time. But, without having to juggle my work schedule with the band’s tour schedule, without having to work enough to pay the house payment, would the joy of being able to go out and perform, the joy of succeeding at life’s juggling act, even exist?

Still, if I changed one simple word in the sentence–REAL WRITERS HAVE DAY JOBS–I get the feeling I wouldn’t be as willing to accept it.

In fact, I’m fairly sure I’d struggle with it.

See, I’ve got this image in my head of writing as a solitary, enjoyable profession. A nice log cabin–equipped with wifi and an espresso maker–in some exotic place. Maybe Alaska–I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska…but I digress. In this vision, I would only have to interact with the people I allowed into my life. I would be able to work as much as I wanted on my heart-breakingly brilliant work of literary genius. I would…be living a dream.

That’s just it, isn’t it? That’s the catch in that bumper-sticker sized bit of wisdom. In living a dream, can we be REAL musicians? REAL writers?

I’ve got a sneaking feeling that being forced to deal with angry customers at work, being forced to visit with perfume laden great aunts and family members who take a disturbing delight in matchmaking for the younger generations in our family, and being required to do things I would rather not forces me to be real. It forces me to react instead of dream. It forces me to see life realistically–which in turn allows me to write realistically.

It might also provide fodder for my next novel, but that is almost beside the point.

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