Sheila Lowe, MS, mystery writer and forensic handwriting analyst
People ask me this question all the time and it drives me crazy (believe me, that’s a short ride). Next time, I’m going to respond by asking, “What do you do for a living?” And when they tell me, I’ll give them a knowing look and ask, “When do you find the time to do that?” I’d like to think there would be dawning understanding on their face, but that’s probably unrealistic. Unless they are an entrepreneur or in the creative arts, people in general don’t seem to understand that what we as writers do is work and “finding time” for it is not an option, it’s a necessity like any 9-5 job.
I’m lucky to have two careers. Handwriting analysis and forensic handwriting examination still pay most of my bills and probably will always be my day job, but I’m working toward fiction writing taking on a bigger share of the financial burden. So looking at January, which was without question, the busiest month I have ever had, work-wise (praise the handwriting gods!), it’s true that I did not get much time for my latest wip. Court dates cannot be postponed because I want to write the last chapter. And when a woman has an urgent need to know about the potential for danger in the handwriting of a guy she’s seeing, it’s hard for me to say, “no, you’ll have to wait.” Priorities have to be set, and sometimes, when there's not a strict deadline, writing has to wait. But there is always time for it.
An e-newsletter I get had an article whose title suggested it could help one find time to write. I decided that the best way for me was to use the time I would have spent reading the article. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time I spend daily on emails and Internet. I’ve already disciplined myself by not leaving Facebook open all the time. I now check in from time to time and post a lot less. See--priorities. For anyone serious about their writing—ie, trying to make a living by writing books—it cannot be a matter of “when do you find the time?” There must be time.
On an unrelated note, I’m posting my new photo with this entry. Last week in connection with an interview I did for the Daily Express, a UK newspaper, they sent out a photographer. He took 234 photos. This was the one I liked. Seemed to have that serious, sort of wistful mystery writer look that will work on a book jacket. Of course, it’s not the one the Express used. Why do newspapers always pick the worst photos? Oh, never mind. That’s a subject for another blog.