The real life of an author no one knows about

My guest today is Heather Greer. Heather Greer is a pastor’s wife with a passion for encouraging and challenging women in the body of Christ to grow in faith. In addition to participating in women’s ministry, Heather enjoys directing a week-long youth camp for teenagers each summer. When she’s not busy writing, Heather enjoys reading and baking. And though her nest is nearing the empty stage, she loves spending time with her husband, four kids, and grandson in her hometown of Carbondale, Illinois.


“What do you do?”

“I’m an author.”

“Wow. That must be awesome. To make a living in your pajamas writing stories all day. Do you know Karen Kingsbury?”

There are so many things wrong with those statements. Let’s start with the idea that I make a living at this. I know there are people who make a great living writing. I am not one of those people. Yet. I’m just starting out. I keep a regular nine to five, actually eight to five, job as a receptionist. If I didn’t, my family would starve. I’m writing with the goal of one day being able to focus on it full-time, but until that time I’m pretty much working two full-time jobs while taking care of my family.

That brings me to the second point. I’m not sure what fairy-tale style picture you have in your mind, but the life of a writer is work. Yes, I do most of my writing in lounge pants and a t-shirt because I am comfortable in them. It is a nice perk to working from home. But the important part of that is that I am working. Writing and writing well are two very different things, and I strive to do it well. It takes time and mental energy. It takes a willingness to learn from others who are further down the path. It takes time. And it takes a willingness to go back through the world you worked so hard to create with a red pen and cut out parts of it. The goal is making the writing tighter, but it can feel a lot like cutting out members of your family. And all of this is just the writing part of writing.

A writer’s job doesn’t end with creation of a great book. Nope. Writers have to learn to be bloggers, publicists, speakers, and social media experts. We have to learn how to market ourselves in ways that connect us to readers. We have to create blog posts, Instagram posts, Tweets, Facebook posts, and newsletters. We have to keep our websites, Amazon pages, and Goodreads pages updated. We need proficiency in creating advertisements by piecing together elements from various websites. We have to learn to analyze results and determine what methods give us the best returns for our investments. It’s nothing we thought we’d be doing as authors. We thought writing was about writing.

However, even as I consider all these things, I realize how blessed I am to be able to do what I love. I may not make a living at it now. Some days the writing may flow and on others it seems to stand still. I may struggle with marketing and the programs that I have to learn to use. It may be frustrating to try so hard to successfully build my audience and extend my reach as an author only to have the numbers inch upward at a pace that makes a snail look like a Nascar driver.

But all of this dims in comparison to the satisfaction of creating a story I can take pride in. The sense of a purpose fulfilled when someone tells you they really connected with your character makes the struggles more than worth it. Knowing that I’m doing what God has put in my heart to do brings joy that wipes out the doubts and difficulties.

So, yes, being an author is awesome. And no, I don’t know Karen Kingsbury.