by Molly Jo Realy (@MollyJoRealy)

Writers gonna write, amiright?

“‘Tis a puzzlement.” ~ King Mongkut of Siam, The King and I

One of my mom’s favorite musicals is The King and I (1956). We used to watch it together all the time. Now that I’m on the opposite side of the country, I watch it without her. Is that cheating? SORRY, MOM!

Haven’t seen it? No prob. Here’s the rundown: When widowed Anna accepted a position as a private tutor to the King’s children, she didn’t know what she was getting into. Her friends back home, including her former romantic interest, Sir Edward Ramsay, urge her to leave. This, they argue, is not the life she signed up for.

Anna struggles through her disappointments, fears, and outside interferences to become not only a teacher to the king’s many offspring, but a role model to his wives, and ultimately, to the King himself. Check it: Anna, a lowly teacher, widow, and single mother from another culture, actually influences the king’s policies.

She held many jobs, but one title. What a gig! Indeed, it’s a puzzlement.

Kinda like being a writer.

Ask twelve of us what it’s like to be a writer, and you’ll get thirteen different answers.

I can see the memes generating already.

Molly Jo's Journals: You Might Be a Writer If

Molly Jo’s Journals: You Might Be a Writer If (CLICK TO DOWNLOAD!)

 

Yeah. Been there, doing that.

So, I polled some peeps on social media to ask non-writers what they think it’s like to be a writer. The responses varied from “I have no idea” to “Superheroes with words.” Lemme tell ya: As a writer, the response is the same.

Some days, we (respectfully using the royal “we,” here, because, well, I polled a lot of you writer folk, too) have no idea what we’re doing, if we’re doing it right, if we should keep on doing it… You get the picture, right?

Maybe it’s because we wear a lot of hats. And by a lot, I mean, well, yeah. Here are eight of them:

8. INTERVIEWER/HOST: As a narrator, it’s a writer’s job to seek out and present those details that an audience cares about. We have to weed through the mundane ideas, discover common threads, and share them in a way that keeps the reader turning the page (or scrolling the screen).

7. MEDICAL PRACTITIONER: Our characters have physical and emotional flaws. An author is tasked with showing how those injuries and imperfections catalyst the storyline. Why is a scar important? How does a wound happen? Can thoughts trigger physical reactions? A great writer answers these questions before the reader asks.

6. RESEARCHER: A story isn’t born from fiat. There must be a jumping-into point, a starting line. From there, the author pulls in details. Whether it’s an historical Western, a Victorian romance, or an other-worldly sci-fi, there are certain facts in place. Behaviors. Procedures. Without keeping to the rules, the narration becomes sloppy and incoherent. Background and filler details add a realism to any story.

5. ARCHITECT: Some call this “world building.” It goes hand-in-hand with research. A character’s neighborhood. The environment, weather, and politics of the day. A writer understands the setting and dynamics of where the story takes place (location and time). Even a novel set in a real-world location has some creation in it. The writer brings it to life.

4. LIBRARIAN/HISTORIAN: There are a lot of backstory items that never make it into a book. These are the author’s ideas and notes on, well, everything that matters in the background. In NOLA, you don’t need to know how Rain’s parents died. You just need to know they did. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it’s significant to know the basics of war and how it tore the Pevensie family apart, without going into graphic detail. Those facts are foundational to the story, and so the writer must keep them safe while narrating their effects into the story.

3. SALESPERSON: A writer is never “just a writer.” Most smaller publishing companies no longer have strong marketing departments. The author must use every avenue available to get the word out. This can mean hosting online events, sending out press releases, doing their own social media, asking family and friends for reviews, comments, shares, and “likes.” You get the picture. What is it I always teach? “Word of Mouth Advertising only works if you open your mouth.” Yeah. That.

2. EDITOR: Once the story is written, it’s time to tear it apart. A writer goes over their work again and again and again. Think that’s easy? You try giving birth for seven years only to rip it apart and Frankenstein it back together. Twice. Or more. I do my best editing with a red pen and a white wine #winkwink.

1. WRITER: But of course, we are, ultimately, writers. Which means, yes. We actually write. On computers. With paper and pen. By talking into a digital recorder. All of the above, and more. We take notes on life. We let our characters speak to us, and sometimes rebel. We observe everything, we generate ideas, and we welcome others into our crazy world. We are writers. And if we’re really good at our job, we’ll tell stories you’ll want to read again and again. And again.

YOUR TURN TUESDAY:  Drop a comment and share the different jobs you do for your job.

In a future post, I’ll share how the main songs from The King and I correlate to the writer’s journey of bringing a novel to life. My next post, however, will focus on self-care. After over a month of allergies and vertigo, I’ve discovered some fabulous ways to boost my health, and cope when I’m not 100%.

What jobs do you do for your job? Molly Jo's Journals: Eight Jobs #Writers Do, a #printable, and a fave quote from #thekingandi #writingcommunity Click To Tweet

YOUR TURN TUESDAY:  Drop a comment and share the different jobs you do for your job.

Come alive and stay wild,

Frankly, My Dear . . . : Bohemian Hurricane

Author of the romantic location mystery novel, NOLA, Molly Jo Realy is an award-winning writer and author coach. Known as the Bohemian Hurricane, she encourages people to embrace their unique talents to come alive and stay wild every day. Addicted to cats, coffee, and pens in no particular order.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more fun!

 

BTW: At the end of each post, I will share social media or marketing links. Enjoy this official video of “Shall We Dance” from The King and I:
(If you can’t see the video, just click on the redhighlighted link).

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