What’s so much fun about writing, and for a career yet? Well, jeez, what isn’t? Maybe I should start there. I know for some people, putting words on paper is about as much fun as a trip to the doctor, and one of those doctors at that. You know, a proctologist or gynecologist. The horror! For me, I guess what’s not fun about writing (but not nearly as bad as a trip to the doctor) is the pressure to make a deadline, especially now, when I’ve committed to writing two books a year—one young adult, and one adult. I maintain a heavy travel schedule (school and library visits, book festivals, major book conventions, writers’ conferences) that keeps me on the road over 100 days per year. Once in a while I wonder how I’ll ever make those deadlines. Somehow, I always do.
What is fun about writing? Everything else. This is one of the most creative careers there is. I get to create stories, and am paid quite well to do that. I get to play with words. Put them on the page. Rearrange them until I’m pleased on every level—content, aesthetics, sound (oh yes, there is a sound to how they’re read, even silently). It’s like putting together a puzzle, only I can make the pieces fit wherever I want them to. No rules but my own.
I also get to spend quality time with people I care about—my characters. Sometimes they run a little rampant, and it’s up to me to rein them in. Or allow them to create havoc. All up to me. I’m in control of their lives. (Can’t say that about my own family. They have wrested all control from my grasp!) My characters become very real to me—flesh and blood, with strengths that sometimes grow from their weaknesses. And because they become so real to me, they walk off the pages for my readers.
On the larger level, I get to set my own hours. Don’t have to work when I’m sick or need to run errands or want play with my family. This can be an issue (see paragraph one), but flexibility is extremely important to me. I’ve only ever had one nine-to-five job, and that was right out of high school. I like being my own boss (before I started writing for a living, I owned a video store). I like doing things my way. I also get to travel, and now promote my books on a global level. I never imagined I could explore not only my country, but also the world, and allow my family to explore it with me.
I love meeting readers. Mentoring other writers. Making new friends and connecting with long-time writer friends at book events. Best of all, the travel makes me love being home even more. Sitting here in my office, looking out the windows across my valley, all the way to my Sierra (like how I claim the landscape?), is the best way to start any day. That’s where I am now, writing this for you. And that, my friends, is the most fun of all.
Ellen is the New York Times best selling author of Crank, Glass, Fallout and more. Her next novel, Perfect, is scheduled for release on September 13, 2011.
For more information about Ellen and her books, visit these links.