Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't quit the day job

Let me set the scene, as we writers do. You've written your first book. Better yet, you've contracted it. Even better still, you have a cover and a release date. You're so excited you could drown yourself in a vat of chocolate. (we writers do that when we're sad or happy. Chocolate is wonderful for everything, don't you know?) That's STUPENDOUS. It's AWESOME. It's WONDERFUL. I'm SO HAPPY FOR YOU. However, I wouldn't advise quitting the day job just yet, no matter who is publishing the book, no matter how wonderful you know it is. Maybe you are the next J.K. Rowlings or Stephen King and you'll prove me wrong. Kudos. However, there are thousands of published writers and not very many can support themselves solely on their royalties. At least not in high style. I've heard it so many times: "I just sold my first book so now I'll be rich. I can tell the boss where to shove this so and so job..." I know a LOT of published writers that wished that. Heck, I've wished it many times. I know some writers who have eventually reached that status and been able to quit the day job, but AFTER a lot of hard work and several books under their belts. I'm a writer and I talk to a lot of other writers. While we don't discuss specific royalties, I can tell most aren't rich. We write because we love to write, because we love telling the story and bringing characters to life. While we wouldn't mind getting rich, or at least earning enough to live a happy life, we probably wouldn't stop writing even if we never earned another dime from doing so. I admit it, I earn monthly royalties and I don't want to give them up. They help a lot with supporting our family of six, especially now that gas and groceries are skyrocketing. However, I still earn way more from the day job, and so that has to be my first priority and writing my second. If the day job boss says, "Work late", or "Come in on Saturday", guess where I'll be. Maybe I'm unusual, but I like to have my security and also, reach for my dream. I wouldn't be happy only doing one or the other. My kids, my hubby, and my friends thought I was nuts preparing for Y2K. DS#1 and DH acted as if I was driving them crazy because I made them back up my computer just in case. DH was almost angry that I was a dutiful wife and mom and gathered food storage enough for a year or two (our church encourages us to do that anyway). They joked about me and Y2K a lot. I just smiled and went on my merry way, canning food and stockpiling my goods, and planting my fruit trees. Yeah, I know, a lot of people made a lot of money on people preparing for Y2K, but I only bought stuff we ate or used shortly thereafter, so we didn't lose money. I not only planted real fruit trees, however, but proverbial ones. I didn't forget about the distant future just because there might be a Y2K disaster in the near future. I worked at my long term goals, too. I kept writing my books. I pursued my writing career. I made my goal of being published before the turn of the Millenium/me turning 40 (same year - yep, 2000). I just made it: my first book "Tigers Play" was released in 1999 by New Concepts Publishing. You know what? My computer crashed right after midnight on Y2K. Yep. No joke. It really did. Luckily, I was all backed up and didn't lose everything. I don't know why my system crashed. I'm glad the whole world didn't crash with me. I digressed, but not really. I believe in being prepared for more than one eventually. I can't imagine not having at least a Plan B. Plan C's are even better. You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch, Molly Daniels, and Sandra Cox are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)


Molly Daniels said...

Good for you:) Always go with the gut feeling.

Love the toons!

Phoenix said...

Since writing is my day job, I'd better not quit. :) And during Y2K I was in labor. Except they told me to go home since I can't naturally deliver anyway. Apparently, giving birth is an ELECTIVE surgery and they felt I could take aspirin and wait through the other, non-elective surgeries for two weeks during the freak out Y2K stage. Yeah. Wanted to kill someone.

Brynn Paulin said...

OMG Kelly!!!

Ashley, I actually quit the day job before I sold. It's been okay for me. I started the new "day job" cause it sounded like something interesting to do. Yes, major eye-rolling allowed.

Unknown said...

Writing puts in the new front steps, the driveway and funds the bathroom renovations...and yes chocolate is magical

Unknown said...

If you're able to survive without a day job, that's different.

Some people are more willing than me to take a chance perhaps even if they're not able. Perhaps I have too many bills, or too many mouths to feed, or maybe it's just my personality. Also, my hubby would kill me if I quit with the idea only to write.

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