Writing for a living…

I have been thinking about this for a few days, then today when I logged on there was a blog from Haley Whitehall on Contingency Plans and I knew that I had to get on here and have a rant.

Writing for me is currently a hobby, something I do after hours when my husband is on night shift and the kids are in bed (like they are right now). Of course I want it to be more than that but there is always that nagging in the back of my mind… what if I am just not good enough?

Soon I am going to have a decision to make. Next year my daughter will be starting school and my son will be going to preschool one day a week, so that will give me a whole day (well six hours anyway) just for me! Of course the pressure will be on to head back to work, but back to what? I am in my early thirties and I find myself having a ‘what do I want to be when I grow up’ moment.

The obvious answer is that I want to write, but as Haley pointed out in her post the probability of being able to draw a reasonable income as a writer is approaching zero.

Option number two is going back to my roots and heading back to the lab… oh yes that’s right, for those of you that don’t know I am a Chemist (not a pharmacist but a chemist!). I am sure that working in the lab must be like riding a bike, you never forget, or maybe you do.

I could head back to the University and pick up a position as a casual teacher taking labs for first year chemistry students, mind numbing work, but the pay per brain cell required is actually quite reasonable. But this doesn’t provide for much of an exciting career path.

Or I could even make use of my as yet unused Diploma of Education and head off to one of the local high schools as a Science teacher.

But the fact is, all I want to do is write.

Being traditionally from the ‘sciences’ rather than the ‘arts’ I am used to the ‘if you work hard enough at it you can get there’ mantra. The problem with the arts is that hard work is not enough on its own, you also need talent.

So as I mentioned earlier I am at a point where I need to make a decision. Whether or not I am going to commit myself to travelling down the road to try my hand as a writer; to spend money and attend courses; to put myself through the heartache of rejections; to write and submit short stories with the hope of getting something published as a stepping stone.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated..

The Exasperated Novelist

6 responses to “Writing for a living…

  1. well jody your blog made me chuckle as i am in a similar position at the moment…but minus the husband and the kids. Go with your gut…if it’s what makes you happy then go for it. When you look back on your life will you always be thinking “what if” about your writing? When you think of the mind numbing days teaching first year chemistry, will you smile with fond memories? You’ll never know if you’re good enough to be published unless you write. 🙂

  2. First off, you are good enough if *you* are happy with your writing. Don’t worry when someone says that your writing “doesn’t currently meet our needs…” Write each piece with the objective to improve, even if only slightly.

    So to the point – if you want to write, and can afford to not work for money right now – then I would write. You’ll be happier. If you get published, all the better. If you make money (and it really can be done) then pour yourself a glass of Penfold and toast to your success! Blog about it and I bet your readers will clink a glass, too!

    • Thanks for your kind words. I think I will follow your advice and write for as long as I can afford to keep doing so. And then even when I go back to work (at whatever that may be) I will try and keep writing after hours (provided I am not too tired!). I am sure that this will lead to me being a much happier individual.

  3. You should definitely keep writing. You have some brilliant stories floating around in that brain of yours and it would be a shame to quit because things get difficult. However, if you are really hard pressed to get into the fiction side of things, why not dabble in non-fiction. How about a high school science text book, or a book full of experiments for primary school teachers? I know it may fit into the mind-numbing category, but you will still be writing, plus you have the opportunity to put your previous degrees to good use. It may also be an opportunity to get a foot in the door with a publishing company. Just a thought……
    You could also continue on the writing side whilst your youngest is still at home, and get a job the one day a week you will have free. That way you will have some money coming in, and can still spend time focussing on your passion for writing.

  4. I read this and briefly wondered if it had accidently been written by me…

    I have a 4 year old resdy to go off to school part time next year, and have been umming and ahing about whether I can make enough money writing to be able to stay out of the traditional workforce. (I also have a baby, mind you, but he’s not a lot of trouble, and my “regular” job can be done from home.)

    My husband is very supportive of me having a permanent writing career, but the fact is that extra $$ are going to be a major help. (My husband also works night shift amongst jhis shift work – thusly why I wondered if I’d written this post!)

    I’m in my early 30s, and not really having a “what do I want to do with my life” moment (I know that I WANT to write), so much as a “can I afford to follow my dreams” moment.

    I eventually came up with the same plan as you seem to have decided on. I’ll keep writing my novel, as well as short stories to submit to magazines & competitions, for as long as it’s financially viable for me to do so. Then I’ll revisit. If nothing else, it gives me a lot of incentive to try to finish pieces of work. There’s always that nagging sense that if I can finish my novel, and if I can get an agent, and if I can get a book deal (or a 3 book deal), then I will at least get an advance to keep me going.

    Yes, that’s a lot of “if”s. But step 1 is to finish my novel. And, apparently like you, I tend to have the idea that if I work hard enough, I can achieve anything. So rather than get sidetracked by how difficult it is to make it in this business, I’m focusing on what I can actually DO to help my chances.

  5. I think you should pursue the writing thing while you still have that option open to you. It sounds like you may have a supportive enough partner that you might be able to give yourself a time table and see if you can make it work.

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