How good are you at guessing what people do merely by looking at them? For instance, could you spot the writer in the queue of people at your local supermarket checkout, or buying something in your neighbourhood convenience store? How about on the crowded commuter train or bus you use each day? Come to that, have you ever thought about what the people you see walking along the street outside your door every day may do for a living?
For the vast majority of the population of any country you care to name, if you saw a highly recognisable and successful writer signing copies of their latest work in a bookshop near you, most would simply not realise that they probably had a writer of their very own living in their midst.
If you were asked to describe what you believe a writer looks like, what would you say? In reality, anyone encountering me on the street would probably do their level best to avoid contact because of my often dishevelled appearance. What can I tell you, I love wearing well worn but comfortable clothes!!!
The person they would see before them is a bearded, balding old man with a limp in his seventy-first year, who prefers to wear old jeans (usually torn) and equally old T-shirts – not that I go outside the house much these days.
Truth be told, people make completely incorrect assumptions about one another. In my case I would be automatically pigeonholed as a sad old loser, judging by the way I look. Boy oh boy you couldn’t be more wrong! Mostly all I want is to be left alone to do what I love – writing books. How a person looks is immaterial to my way of thinking. What counts is what’s inside them!!!
I hardly fit the stereotype of what the English public perceives a writer should look like, and that suits me just fine. It means I can get on with that next novel, apart from the odd interruption to my daily work schedule, like the postman, paperboy, or my grocery delivery once a week.
Out of the nine thousand plus people living alongside me in the small English market town of Beccles here in North Suffolk, less than ten of them know that I write. It always makes me laugh when people find out that fact about me. The look on their faces is always priceless – yet another totally misguided assumption of theirs, blown to hell…
The really weird thing is that in the world of ebooks I’m known to thousands across the planet, granted they are mostly in the US. Yet if I was to walk past them would they realise who I was – probably not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – far from it. Most of us crave anonymity, and I’m no exception. Just so long as I’m left alone to get on with it, I’ll keep on cranking out a novel, roughly one a year, or every two years depending on the writing flow.
Most writers I know are reclusive by nature. We have to be. How else would we be able to write that book you’re hopefully enjoying at the moment? Unlike most other people, as writers if we’re serious about what we do we work a seven day week over many months, always unpaid. Ask yourselves – would you work for your boss for nothing? We only get paid (receive royalties) when you buy a copy of one of our books. We get nothing if you got yourselves a free copy!!
So, the next time you’re in town, or taking a walk in your own neighbourhood, don’t just dismiss people out of hand by the way they look. Instead, see if you can spot your local writer among them.