Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wanna Be A Writer? Hope You Don't Like Eating

So you want to be a writer, huh? Good for you. As a writer myself I can tell there is nothing more gratifying than having your words read by someone else, with or without their ultimate approval.

I have seen my name in print thousands of times and not once did it fail to bring me some sense of inner joy. It was always gratifying to see my stories and photos (yes, I was a photojournalist) on the front page, or even when they were buried on page 12. It didn't matter where they appeared, just that they had met with the ultimate approval of my editors and made it to print.

It felt good.

Unfortunately, as a news reporter every time I received my paycheck I felt a twinge of regret. Regret that I wasn't going to be able to buy the new tires I needed for my car, or new shoes to replace the ones I had worn down to nothing more than shadows of their former selves; couldn't pay my rent, buy the groceries or upgrade my camera equipment. Like many news reporters working today why paychecks were meager, at best. I made just enough to survive, nothing more.

In the meantime I watched new reporters, fresh out college, work a few months at the news desk then take the first public relations job that came their way. I hated them for that. I hated them because they weren't committed to journalism the way I was, but also because overnight they had new cars, new clothes and money in the bank while I continued to starve.

Eventually my life changed. I had children that I needed to care for and bills that I could no longer dodge. I had to make a slight change, at least in the way I made my living, and hope that I could continue to hone my writing craft. Fortunately I wound up here, with enough side jobs to make it happen so i could write and survive. Not get rich, but survive.

The story is much the same regardless of what sort of professional writing you do. Now that I write for myself there are clear advantages, including the fact I don't have to change out of my pajamas if I don't want to, but as for money, well I have to do other types of work if I expect to survive, and I do.

Now I hate myself.

I dream of the day when I can not only survive as a writer, but thrive. When my written words are enough to pay my bills and afford me the opportunity to save for my future. In fact, just being able to know I have a future as a writer would be great.

But like so many other writers I know that dream is just a dream until it becomes a reality. There is no magic potion, no secret sauce, no "Fool-Proof, 12-Step Path To Writing Success." There is just hard work, and more hard work, bundled together with inspiration and talent to produce results. One. Word. At. A Time.

If this sounds like the sort of life you would like to live; if you can survive on next to nothing, and survive a near constant flow of rejection (because every good writer suffers PLENTY of that) then perhaps a writers life is right for you.

If this does not sound good to you, it's never too late to go back to college.

1 comment:

Nakeesha said...

I feel your pain.