Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

Author photos

They bug me. They're just too staged. You, with your perfect life, in your country cottage where it's always either a warm spring or a cool autumn (but never chilly), trees without leaves falling, flowers without bees stinging, a beautiful dog of show quality with no hair or drool or musk or poop. Yes, your bio says you divide your time between Chicago and the country cottage in Colorado, but we don't see the stress of the city, nor the lonesomeness of the country.

Most importantly, though, we don't see you writing.

And because of this, many adoring children and idolizing adults think that writing is easy for you. Without any evidence to the contrary, writing must slide neatly into place within your perfect life, where sweaters drape just so and tweed is cool again. You must just sit on your porch where it never rains, where wind never blows your research and scribbled notes away, and type away until dinnertime. No blocks, no grief, no heartaches. No sight of how dreadfully hard writing is. Every. Single. Day.

How hard it is to find your characters' voices. How hard it is to create perfect descriptions of a place you've never seen. How much you ache to see words appear on the blank page. How desperate you feel when you can't figure out what happens next -- or worse, how to get to somewhere you know exists.

But look. I'm just as guilty of this as the rest of you. I've got my nature-filled shot up on my website, because it's the only thing I feel comfortable with. Because there's an image to control. Because writing is also private. No one is allowed in our zone, in our soul, let alone someone armed with and hiding behind a camera. Just...

Just know, readers and admirers and all the curious, that it's hard. Don't judge a book by its cover. Don't be deceived.