Make a Living by Writing?

Whenever I tell people I am a writer there are several different kind of responses I receive.  One is they consider it a nice, hobby like scrap booking or dried flower arrangement but that my real job is the office work I do.  Other people are heartily impressed, I like those people.  They have higher aspirations for me than I do.  They usually say things like, “Maybe you’ll be the next J.K. Rowling or like that lady who wrote 50 Shades of Grey.”  I appreciate the sentiment but that is not my expectation.

You see I write because I love words, stories, sentence structure.  I have played around with them my whole life.  I remember as a teenager sitting in my bedroom and writing a piece describing what my room looked like.  I did that to practice descriptive writing.  I wasn’t invited to a lot of parties back then.

I think of writing like a job with an artistic flair.  So when people suggest writers (like other artists) should do it for the “art” and not monetary gain…I get annoyed.  I have studied, taken workshops and classes (some of these are not cheap) and worked on my proficiency in this field for years, just like any other career person.  I want to be a writer who makes a living.  Which means I am not seeking fame or awards.  Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t turn any of those things down but I am not chasing after them.  I am also not a Hemingway-esque tortured writer who needs pain, suffering and alcohol to feed my genius.  I don’t know how I would ever write with a hangover but I have written some pretty amazing words of wisdom while tipsy.  The funny thing is in the morning, they are not so impressive, kind of like drunk texting.

In every career there are parts you love and parts you do because you have to.  For a cardiac surgeon I imagine a heart transplant is a thrill, a challenge to his or her skills, man overcoming the fragility of humanity.  But putting a stent in a blocked artery is an everyday, walk in the park kind of thing, which is the majority of their work.  Like the Godlike surgeon, I would love to write a novel that ends up on the New York Times Bestseller List or is made into a Hollywood blockbuster but reality is I just want to write.  That may mean a couple down and dirty romance novels that you find in hospital gift shops or on a rack at the Drug Store or it could mean ghost writing someone else’s idea without any credit.  That is the unglamorous work part, which will impress very few people, but I don’t mind, because I still get to work with words.

Writing for me is about the joys of language, character development and coherent interesting stories.  As we all know fame and fortune doesn’t necessarily demand those things (I won’t mention any names but a certain numerically coloured not-so-erotic trilogy comes to mind) but I demand it of myself, whether writing a short-story, a non-fiction essay or a full-blown 75,000 word novel.  That is the writer I am and that is the job I want.
UPDATE:   Sooo excited I just received my first ever Rejection Letter from a big time NYC agent who represents one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman.  Rejection by her is okay by me because in her letter, signed by her assistant, she referred to me as “Author”. It is official.


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5 Responses to Make a Living by Writing?

  1. I’d buy your book at the drugstore.

  2. Nice post! I found you via The Bloggess. Congratulations on the rejection, official author! (You know, a not-rejection would be better obviously, but still.) Not that I know much about A. publishing, B. your novel, or C. anything that makes me qualified to say this, but have you looked at Quirk Books? I know they take “unsolicited submissions” and they generally seem like good people. Anyway, good luck!

  3. Jim

    Ahhh the life of the struggling artist.
    Success is dependent on several things… perseverance / passion / talent / opportunity.
    You certainly have the first three… and these will create the the fourth… hang in there hun.

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