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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Writing and the Real World

The question begs from my recent blogging absence, am I a writer or someone who plays at it whilst doing a proper job? A proper job in this case meaning something that whilst having its moments of interest, largely features in the means-to-an-end category. I do it because I have to.
So what does that do to writing? In the last few months, pretty much killed it stone-dead. I have written a few words but hardly anything of consequence. It saddens me a little, but probably not as much as you might think. Yes I have these big macho targets that I will write this and I will write that and in a year’s time, I can give up work and sell a million copies…. And yes I am still dreaming.
Writers, like every other dreamer, do live in the real world, at least for the moments when they are not exploring their odd fantasies on the page. Full time writers, except those living in the sales stratosphere or sitting on some other privileged pot of money still have a job of work to do. Everyone has to pimp and negotiate their way round the next pay cheque, much of it at the bidding of publisher with massive sales target expectations.
We all need to earn money to eat, including publishing sales directors. How much largely depends on how expensive your tastes are or how many dependents with expensive tastes you’ve created along the way.
It’s probable I have expensive tastes and possibly there are others around me drawing on that fund in some way. Therefore I have to earn money to cover that cost. The fact of life! The most effective way to do that is the day job and consequently the balance of writing time is lowered in proportion to it. Sad though might seem that way, it really isn’t. This isn’t a plea for sympathy but an acceptance of the choices you make. I could be the full time writer and make a business of flogging my wares round every shop in the country eeking out a living from random sales. No more day job, I could be the frugal artist. But I choose not to be because this is my getting away with it balance. Writing therefore is my indulgence, my passion but not my job. I do it when I can and I hopefully enjoy that indulgence and get to walkaway whenever it gets too hard or other things are more fun.
So yes I would like to write more and to achieve things in the literary world, but only when the time is right.
For the moment I will enjoy my job, smile at the hassle as it batters me with each day, and then indulge in the continuation of expensive tastes. I can finish the book tomorrow.


  1. In many ways, making writing your "job" changes what it is. It is no longer an escape from the real world but becomes the real world with its pressures - to make money, keep up there, write the next book. Many authors have to produce a book a year, with deadlines and criteria imposed. Having it as a hobby gives you freedom and choice - you can write or not as the mood takes you. No pressure, no demands except from yourself and no expectation.

  2. Yes you are right...that's how I've seen it, though often think that's to make myself feel better for not making it through the popularity barrier. Thanks for commenting!

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