Fleeting Whispers of Writing Grandeur


There’s a pair of my husband’s slacks slung over the back of a kitchen chair. They’ve been there for several days, with a frayed knee waiting to be mended.  Navy cotton duck doesn’t talk, so why is there a trace of taunting going on every time I pass by? They know mending isn’t high on my priority list right now, and navy doesn’t wear the accumulating dust all that well.

I really do have good intentions each morning, but the day always disappears into my computer monitor. I suspect my husband has long since resigned himself to finding alternatives in the closet until after I finish my current writing project.

The truth is, I’d rather write than mend any day. In a Writer Unboxed column last spring, author Barbara O’Neal admitted as a girl her fantasy about the life of a professional writer involved “a cottage by the sea in England… a cat on the windowsill and a dog by the fire.”  In a recent interview on Angelina C. Hansen’s blog, daughter Shari Green was asked about her fantasy writing space and she mentioned “a window overlooking the sea.”

Being a writer means escaping into the world of our characters, but that rarely happens in the idealistic settings we visualized in our aspiring-author dreams. More often we’re scooping precious slices of writing time out of our household duties, or while sitting in the car waiting for the school bell to release youngsters, or wiping crumbs and coffee rings from pages during our lunch break in a crowded staff room.

When we’re not scrambling for writing time, we’re probably checking off rejection letters against our submissions spreadsheet, stressing over a possible deal, or wondering if we can possibly make the deadline for the next round of edits. During ulcer-inducing moments we may wonder where our pre-publication fantasies went. Where’s the rewarding lifestyle we dreamed of? What’s the point of all this?

Barbara O’Neal says, “…The biggest rewards are intrinsic.  For the curious, questing, intelligent minds that turn to writing, there is nothing more thrilling than eternally tackling a pursuit that cannot ever be fully mastered.  There is the chortling joy of learning something new, every single book. There is the pleasure of research and world-building and story design; there is detail enough for any geek of any ilk. And there is the bone deep satisfaction of sticking with it, and seeing a row of books against the wall, work that would not exist at all had you not persisted.”

Ah, that’s it exactly! I’m not there yet, but that’s an acceptable reality to work towards.

Did you ever fantasize about what the writer’s life would be like? Did your dreams include delusions of grandeur?


Photo: Room & Windows by Luigi Diamanti

14 thoughts on “Fleeting Whispers of Writing Grandeur

  1. joylene says:

    Wow, do I. I never quit. I see a lot of plaid, which may sound weird, but plaid goes with autumn in NY. Yes, I see myself visiting NYC and walking through the park with my agent. We’re discussing the most recent proposal from my publisher. Oh, and let’s not forget the movie deal from Michael Mann.

  2. My vision of a writer’s life is far too exhilarating to include the mundane realities described by accomplished writers. I see the thoughtful writer expressing the wonders of life and touching the wounded with words of God’s love. I see the writer escaping into realms of glory while chased by demons and protected by unseen angels on high.

    Oh my! Rejections? Deadlines? Please. My head is in the clouds. Do not disturb. Blessings to you real writers…

  3. Judith Robl says:

    My window would overlook a large meadow – perhaps with a rippling brook or stream of some sort running into a glen. There would be no brambles, thorns or stickers. Oh, wait… I don’t write fantasy – or do I?

    Reality – house cluttered with unfinished projects “in the works” and meal plans hastily formulated from whatever is on hand. Oh, and dining room table piled with mending to be done before we leave for the weekend tomorrow morning.

  4. Ah, yes… I see we’re all a little delusional at times. But the dreams help keep us focused, don’t they? 🙂

  5. Jenn Hubbard says:

    At one point I wrote while sitting on a beanbag chair and typing on a word processor, which sat atop the cardboard box it came in. When we moved into this house and I got a whole spare bedroom with two windows and a secondhand desk, I felt like I’d hit the big time! No more cardboard-box desk!

    I guess I’ve never bought into the Hollywood image of The Writer. ;-D

    • It’s fun to dream of what might be, but the everyday reality keeps us pretty well grounded. The longer we write the more we discover how unrealistic that Hollywood image is! Just having a dedicated writing space of any kind is a joy for many of us.

  6. Carol, my writing space is also my bedroom, an improvement from the days when my children were growing up. As a single parent I gave each of them the two available bedrooms (boy/girl) and I slept in the living room, which was also our dinning room. Slept, ate, read, watched TV and wrote in one room. My “dedicated” space has always been a corner of another room. Yes, I have dreams of being able to sleep in one room and write in another. Better dreams include a better space or traveling with a laptop 🙂 The best dreams are simply getting published and meeting some of the great writers I read or meet on-line (like you) at a conference 🙂

  7. Laura Best says:

    I’m just trying to recall if I ever had any fantasy as to what a writer’s life was like. I do recall thinking/hoping that those who knew me wouldn’t even be aware that I had books published. Guess what? The word got out.. lol

    Maybe I thought I’d be able to devote more time to writing and perhaps give up my regular job.I know there are some who insist that anyone can make a living by writing, but they can obviously reel off a publishable story much faster than I as well as have it read and accepted, published. I’m obviously doing something wrong. 😉

  8. I had many delusions of grandeur while growing up. These helped me to escape to places I was sure should be more a part of my world than the one I was living. For years in my youth I felt like a stranger trying to adapt in a foreign land. I thought perhaps God had made a mistake in the station of life I’d been placed, in that I had nothing in common with those I called family. I loved books, poetry, could get lost for hours in creating and breathing life into my characters on paper; things no one but I appreciated. Now I know I was just gathering research for the many stories I tell. All I ever wanted was to rub elbows with the literary giants and pick their brains. That was my wish. Even today to stand in the presence of the Master of Macabre, Stephen King, would be more of an honor for me than any stature I could attain for myself. I find him and his mind deliciously wicked.

  9. Shari Green says:

    Despite my daydream of a “room with a view”, truth is, most my words have been written on the couch, in the car, at the pool, beside the soccer pitch…. And I’m okay with that! 😉

  10. My home office used to be downstairs in the basement where the only thing I had a view of was the boiler. I’ve since moved upstairs and now spy stacks of dirty dishes in place of said boiler, but am also privy to two large windows in my dining and living rooms which provide inspiration very season of the year. I guess I’ve always envisioned myself writing at home with my kids running around, which, luckily, is my reality. But the dream has always been to write fiction for a living — that one I’m still working on. 🙂

  11. Having the ability to write full time doesn’t often equate with writing for a living, but I think many of us dream of both. My fantasies sometimes include a pricey renovation (paid for by a lucrative contract, of course) to create a luxury writing retreat out of our large upstairs games room with its window to the trees and multiple skylights… but it’ll never happen. I need to keep that room as a guest room. And I’d still probably end up on the couch downstairs with my laptop anyway! I’m already blessed to have a small office of my own on the main floor that I don’t use all that often.

  12. Hi Carol –

    The whole time management issue presents a challenge to me, especially now that I’ve added a job to the mix.

    Off topic: I linked to one of your posts in my Friday Round-Up. 🙂


  13. Renea Munsch says:

    like it

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