I am a writer. I have written and published 5 books in 3 years, 2 of which are children's books that I fully illustrated myself...and I work from home.
People don't understand the whole working from home thing. By choice, I write late at night, when everyone else is asleep. It's quiet, the phone isn't ringing, there is nobody asking me where this is or that is, even the animals are asleep. A single chapter or illustrated page can take 7 or 8 hours to complete start to finish. 8 hours of sitting at a computer trying to get a story to meld and make sense, or drawing and re-drawing an illustration and adding layers upon layers of color and shading to make it look as perfect as possible. This makes for wonderful things like eye strain, headaches, sore muscles, (you remain hunched over a drafting table or a computer screen for hours upon hours and see if your body isn't stiff afterward, I dare you.)
And then there is sleep. Usually I fall asleep around 4 am and I get up at 6 am to get the kids off to school. Then I feed myself, catch up on the news, answer the phone that rings a thousand times and do the dishes. And then there's marketing. The UGLY side of being an author. These books don't sell themselves. Posting promos on facebook, twitter, lineked-in...giveaways, discount days, blogging. Reading and reviewing other authors so they will read and review your work, beta reading for another author, keeping up with discussions in all the writer's groups, managing your author or fan page. All this takes WORK, and EFFORT.
Now it is about 10:00 am and I'm starting to fade a bit. So I take a nap (GASP! IN THE DAYTIME?) Yes...I take a nap. Remember now, I have only had two hours sleep so far so I try to get about 3 more hours before everyone comes home from work and school. Then it's time to make dinner, do more dishes, help with homework and whatever else I can get done.
I am not looking for sympathy, here. I choose this. I sacrifice so I can do this. This is my dream. Until these books start making some consistent money, I live without certain luxuries like: dinner out, movies, decent haircuts, new shoes, vacations, a car that was built in this century...you know, all the fun stuff. I am not asking for sympathy, only that you think before you speak. Just because I work from home, doesn't mean I am sitting on my ass doing nothing. Just because I don't punch a time-clock doesn't mean I didn't accomplish something today. Books aren't written in a day, and not everyone can do it. Everyone, whether they want to admit it or not, is looking for recognition,whether it be a raise, promotion, or a bonus. Writers are no different, we are striving to make a name for ourselves in the form of sales, reviews and fans.
So, if you have a writer in the family, don't be condescending. Don't call them "dreamers' like it's a bad thing, Don't make what you do at work everyday more important than what they do on a day-to-day basis. And for heaven's sake, don't come home from work and say "what did you do all day?" or you just might end up being the casualty in chapter 6. Woodchippers, axes, chainsaws... we dreamers have endless ways of getting even.