Since Life After Art was published, I’ve done quite a few radio interviews, which is a lot of fun. After a few, you start to learn what questions to expect. But recently, I got a question that I really wasn’t prepared for:
“Are you quitting your job now that you’ve published a book?”
I get why the radio host asked that question. Isn’t that what we all want to do, especially as bloggers? We dream of some romantic future where we can turn our hobby into our full-time profession. I admit, I dream too. Not many people get to do it, but just enough do that the rest of us might keep vigil for our dream of someday.
But my answer was, “No.” Unequivocally, no. Not just because of the realities that writing has not made me enough money to turn it into a career, but because it is not my ambition to do so. I have set aside that ambition, despite all of it’s appeal.
Writing full-time is certainly a noble ambition. But it isn’t mine. And you are a blogger who dreams of becoming a “real” writer, maybe you should consider these reasons I’m not trying to become a full-time author.
“How Vain It Is to Sit Down to Write When You Have Not Stood Up to Live.”
Henry David Thoreau said those words. So let’s be honest. We try not to be vain as writers. But it’s difficult. We all want to be heard. We want to assert our voices.
People say that everyone is entitled to their opinions. I disagree. I’m not entitled to have any opinions if I haven’t spent time doing anything, learning anything or experiencing anything.
I was able to write Life After Art because I had a depth of experience that made writing easy. It would be vain of me to try to write on a topic of which I had no experience or knowledge. I want to publish another book, but not unless I have an equally deep experience of another topic.
The world is full of empty books with pages added to boost their weight, not to add anything to the reader. And we all want to be heard. I say we don’t have the right to be heard until we’ve gotten our hands dirty.
Publish or Perish?
True, it can be very satisfying to get paid to do something you love.
But an interesting thing happens when you turn it into a paycheck. Suddenly, it’s you’re livelihood. Suddenly, the pressure is on. Creativity equals food on the table. Writer’s block equals hunger.
Some people use the derogatory term selling out for people who get paid for their creativity. I don’t think full time writers are “sell outs,” but to be sure, when someone else is paying you for something, you give up some measure of control. You aren’t your own boss.
To be honest, the fact that I don’t need to publish a book is quite liberating. I don’t have to write anything I don’t want to write or work on any timeframe unless I choose to. My creativity is mine.
A Very Romantic Myth
The idea of a “full-time” writer, is, so far as I can tell, a myth.
Or at least the reality of a “full time writer” is far different than what we imagine.
Very few writers in the world can pay their bills just on the creative, fulfilling work that they are known for. Even most of the writers you are thinking of have to do some grunt work, some writing on the side that pays the bills. Mark Twain was the most famous man in America. He had to write a newspaper column (which he often loathed) to make money while he worked for a decade on Huck Finn.
Whether you are doing a day job at a cubicle desk or a writer’s desk, the fact is you will inevitably be doing a day job. None of us just get to sit around, pondering our lives and writing books. I’m perfectly happy with the grunt work I’m doing to pay my bills.
Writing Is Lonely
Some of you may find the solitary nature of writing to be appealing, so this may be a counterproductive point. But I find solitude only healthy in doses. I could never work from home. In fact, summers when school is out is practically torture for me. I know, hard to believe.
I’m just not cut out to be a hermit or a monk or a full-time writer. I’m not saying you shouldn’t dream. I’m just helping you weigh both sides, and maybe find contentment where you are.
And that is why I’m shunning the universal blogger ambition. I’m keeping my day job.
What about you? Do you dream of finding that elusive “dream job?” Do you dream of being a “writer” or some other kind of creative profession?