Not How I Imagined It

Today we welcome guest blogger Joyce Tremel! Joyce is a former employee of a suburban Pittsburgh police department with a second degree black belt in Taekwondo. A member of Pennwriter's and a former Vice-President of the Mary Roberts Rinehart chapter of Sisters in Crime, she has written short stories for Mysterical-E magazine and non-fiction articles for The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Penn Writer, and the Sisters in Crime publication Breaking & Entering. She is about to find a home for her first full-length crime novel. Look for her at and

When Kate mentioned that yinz guys (as we say in Pittsburgh) were looking for guests to write on The Writing Life, I volunteered. But when I got to thinking about my writing life, I realized it’s nothing like I imagined it would be. There’s no writing garret, no maid, no cook, no multi-million dollar book deals… But I’ll take it anyway. I mean, really. In what other job can you wear pajamas all day if you feel like it?

I don’t think there is a typical writer’s life (other than working in PJs). For the last eight months or so, my days have consisted of wrangling contractors, making sure they’re getting the work done, reading up on septic systems, wells, and the best way to clean log walls. I’ve become an expert at installing and grouting bathroom tiles. Yeah. We’re building. And no, I’m not coming over to remodel your bathroom. In addition to the cabin stuff, I still have our “real” house to keep up with, although I’ll admit it’s not as clean as I’d like it to be. (I may be the only person in the world who polishes the outside of their washer and dryer.) This is where that maid in the previous paragraph would come in handy—except I’d probably want to clean before she came.

Then there’s Christmas shopping. And decorating. I don’t even want to think about baking this year. In the midst of all this, I still manage to get some writing done.

When I started this writing thing, I never realized how long it would take to even get close to having a published book. Although I’ve been writing off and on since I was a kid, I only got serious about it maybe twenty years ago. I wrote a really horrible story that read like Nancy Drew meets the Hardy Boys. I had no idea what I was doing. Point of view was all over the place, the characters were clich├ęd, you name it—I did it wrong. Fortunately, no copies of this travesty exist. I even destroyed the 3 ½ floppy discs on the off-chance that someone somewhere still had a computer that had a disc drive.

To make what could be a very long story short, I kept learning and writing. I’m on my third (and I hope, final!) agent and have a book on submission now. Fingers, toes, and whatever are crossed. I’m working on the next book in the series and also planning some other ideas just in case.

One thing all writers have in common: this writing life is unpredictable.

Joyce Tremel