When I Grow Up I Want To Be A __________.

The thought of dropping any chance at another job and throwing everything I have into writing scares the crap out of me. Don’t get it twisted though. It’s not that I’m freaked about what people think–well, not that freaked about what people think. The real thing that freaks me out is that I won’t be able to make a living doing this deal, but by the time I figure that out I’ll have blown my chances of doing something else. That’s a serious dragsville kind of thought, you know?

This here topic has been stewing in my mind a lot lately. I’ve been in school for longer than I’d like to admit, taking “easy” classes at a junior college so I can bank my G.I. Bill money and have more time for writing. Money is a little tight, but my wife wants me to make a good run at this thing and so I figure, “What the heezy? I might as well give it a go.”

The thing is, the G.I. Bill isn’t a bottomless pit of cash-o-la. I’ve got about another year of school benefits, but after that I’m S.O.L. This is the thought that sets my brain into a you-gotta-get-a-real-job sort of frenzy.

And I know that my brain–however panicked at times–has a pretty solid point. At some point I’m going to have to figure something out that doesn’t involve using the V.A. to subsidize my dreams. The grand plan is to have a manuscript ready to chuck at every agent who bites at a query, but I get a little shook wondering if that’ll pan out. I mean, I’ve got a plan–oh Lord, have I got some plans–but the best laid schemes of mice and men tend to go pear-shaped even when we’ve got things planned out to the fricken letter.

I want to be a writer more than anything though, you know? It’s literally the only thing I can imagine doing for the rest of my days. But that what-if-I-fail thought keeps scratching at the back of my head, getting louder each time I try to turn the volume down on it.

I guess the point of this whole post is to see what you all think in a feedbacky sort of way. If you’re aiming at being a writer–and by “writer” I mean one of the full-time variety–what’s your plan for getting there? Do you work your normal job and squeeze in time to tap the keys after the office? Or are you holed up in a studio apartment surviving on ramen so you can focus on doing the deal?

Finally I want to give a high-five to my new followers, Freshinkadmin and Ladyromp. There’s no blog connected to the Freshinkadmin link aside for a Gravatar–at least not one I can see–but I stuck the link there anyways in case he or she sees it. Thanks to both of you for following!

Have a good one, duders.

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12 thoughts on “When I Grow Up I Want To Be A __________.

  1. I’ve been dicussing this recently with writers I know who have been successfully living off their writing. (I don’t know what kind of income they bring in, but I think for some it’s a matter of making sufficient income to prevent their spouse from footing all of the bills.) There appear to be two main ways to accomplish this: 1) Publish a best-seller or 2) Publish a lot of mediocre sellers.

    There isn’t really a way to predict the first one — it’s not just a matter of talent, but also hitting the shelves at the right time to catch the public’s attention. But the 2nd option works for a lot of writers. I’ve heard that, in the mainstream publishing world, releasing a novel every year to a year and a few months is best, in order to build up a readership. Longer gaps than that and people will forget you. In the ebook publishing world, it’s simultaneously better and worse: royalties are higher, but advances are lower; and readers seem to be more fickle. You really need to have a release every few months to keep them interested, or they wander off.

    • The other day I was thinking about how many writers out there are making a living off their writing. I’m not talking about hauling in zillions of dollars, but rather just bringing in an average income. For me, the thought of bringing in enough money to survive on is so effing appealing. I’m all for making it big with writing, but if it doesn’t happen I will give precisely zero craps about it. If becoming a middle-of-the-pack writer means I can feed myself and pay the bills then I’m totally cool with that.

  2. My plan for becoming a professional published author? Good question. I have no plan. Not really. I work currently, and I type and edit around my work hours, and I hope to know when my book is ready. Cause I have no idea. It isn’t now, and if I want it done soon I need to get working harder on it. That’s really what my plan is, lol. Write harder and hope and pray that people outside my writing group likes it!

    • I love that you went around from, “I don’t have a plan” to “That’s what my plan is.” It’s funny how writing, by which I mean just hashing out ideas, can help me sort my thoughts on how I feel about something.

      Thanks for stopping by the bloggity blog!

  3. Oh, Mr. Clemons. The only sure reward for writing is writing. Henry Miller said that. And Henry Miller lived the life of the “studio apartment” writer. Living off Ramen and a whole lotta nothin’. I have a job. I have a family. I squeeze in writing when I can. Early mornings. Late nights. Weekends. Poe Ballantine, another wonderful writer, gave up everything for it.

    I have a friend who ghost writes, eats Ramen, and rolls homeless people for change. Kidding there.

    It’s a fickle, fickle business. My wife is a distributor for a whole food concentrate business and that seems like a good way to go. You learn sales, and you get money, and it’s not this huge time commitment!

    When I grow up, I wanna be Maggie Stiefvater! I just met her at a conference and she is wonderful! And she lives off her writing. But she is the exception. Good luck!

  4. I work a full-time job, and lately I’ve been really tempted to quit. It cuts into my writing time a lot, particularly during a really busy work week (like this one) when I don’t get home until after 7:00 and am too tired to write. But you know what I realized? On weekends, when I have allllll day to write, I don’t get any more done than I do in an hour on a weeknight. So maybe there’s no point in quitting my job yet.

    However, the job I have is by no means a career-track job (or at least not the career track I want), so I have the same panic as you that I need a meaningful day job just in case writing doesn’t work. I’m not sure that’s a good way to think of it though because then you don’t fully commit to writing.

    Basically, I have no answers for you. I can only tell you that you are so not alone in your panicking.

    • “Basically, I have no answers for you. I can only tell you that you are so not alone in your panicking.”

      I love this because I don’t know either. Not knowing scares the bananas out of me sometimes, but more often than not I am pretty all right with it. Good to know I have an internet copilot for my panic sessions.

  5. I haven’t quit my day job(s); but everything I am pursueing now is geared towards my writing. It’s a matter of paying the bills – life does take money, but there’s also the point of removing the rest of the safety nets so that I don’t have a plan B, C, or D to fall back on. I’m dong this thing one way or the other. Of course, I have the benefit that my husband is the major breadwinner now.

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