Sunday, September 27, 2009

How Easy Is It?

Sometimes as writers, we complain about how difficult our task is. We work alone. We often aren't paid much for what we produce. We have no health insurance. We can barely pay the bills unless we have an outside source of income. But really, when we take time to look back at what writers used to endure, we really have it easy.

I watched the movie Becoming Jane, the other night. While it was fictionalized, I suspect the screenwriters did their research and provided us with a fairly accurate depiction of Jane Austen's life and how she worked. I watched while she wrote with quill and ink, her fingers smeared black, as she struggled with her words. Then, the finished product, wholes cut from the paper where she needed to change what she had written. Imagine no computer, not even a typewriter with carbon paper. Each word laboriously handwritten. Mistakes carefully cut from the paper. What did the writer do if her manuscript was lost in the post? There was only one copy, after all. One thing is for certain, if the intended market said no, by the time the manuscript came back, the writer would have to re-write the entire manuscript. No quick method of going to one's computer,opening a file, and printing a new copy.

So, if you ever start to feel sorry for yourself and how difficult it is to be a writer, remember Jane Austen. Oh, and by the way, Jane published her works anonymously, so never received fame or fortune. Yes, we do indeed have it very easy.

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