Thursday, January 24, 2008

On being professional


This is one of the children I'm going to visit next week. Because that's my job, seeing starving children, talking with their grieving parents and bringing home the grim reality of Third World poverty to people in the US so they can donate money so we can buy food and medicine and support programs that keep them alive and make them better.

Perfectly logical. And Perfectly heartbreaking at times.

Two weeks ago I was seeing malnourished children.

Next week I'll be doing the same. I'm feeling a tad exhausted right now.

But this is my job and if I'm to do it to the best of my ability, it's what I must do. I have to get up close and personal with the worst of the worst, the most heart wrenching, the ugly side of poverty. It's called being a professional. My own personal feelings can't interfere with what I have to do to get the job done. Even though I might be tempted to cry because no child should have to suffer like this, and part of me is closing my eyes and saying, "Not another one, how many more? How many more must I visit and how many more will die before I get there? How much more of this can I take, going on 15 years of doing this?"

I do what I must to get the job done.

The same is true for writing romance. I'm in a gray place right now, hovering between exhaustion and uncertainty and wanting to chuck it all away and run away to a nice place like Tahiti. Or Brooklyn. I hear Brooklyn is cold this time of year so I'd have to buy a space heater.

I'm dealing with rewriting a rejected book and a proposal rejection, two realities in the publishing world. Part of me feels like pushing it all aside and walking away. Running away to Brooklyn and abandoning the laptop, manuscript, the haunting images of starving children chasing me back to the US, the deadlines.

But instead, I stayed up last night very late, writing, rewriting, writing some more, when all I wanted was sleep as I have to work at the day job today. I'll have little chance to get work done next week, so I did what had to be done. Some people think writing romance is very glamorous. Maybe they imagine that we're all like Mary Fisher in the move SHE DEVIL, wearing our pink outfits sitting at our pink laptops, gushing about terms like "love buttons" while sipping mineral water. Some days it's fun and zany and terrific. Others it's damn hard work. It's a business, and you do what you must to get the job done.

It's called being a professional. Life interferes, deadlines are extended, editors are gracious and understanding, but in the end, you as author are the one who must deliver.

At the day job, I deliver the heartbreaking truth of starvation.
At the part-time job of romance author, I deliver the manuscript on deadline.

That's it in a nutshell. No excuses. I can whine all I want, but it won't get the job done. So the answer is just do it.

Like the school official's wife now popular on You Tube who admonished a kid for calling her house asking why there wasn't a snow day, I tell myself the same thing. ""Get over it, kid, and go to school!"