Sunday, May 11, 2014

SO, YOU ARE WRITING A _____ , EH?


In modern times, the notion of "writer" as a profession - whether for print or for screen - is a rather dubious concept. When you take the leap to fully commit and make a real go of it, not just as an after-hours hobby or something to do on the weekends to unwind from your 9 to 5, you surrender yourself to the skepticism, silent stares and backdoor whispers of those around you. For most, writing isn't a job. There are no set hours, no traffic jams, no bosses to hate or colleagues to annoy you. And, most importantly, there is no paycheck, steady or otherwise.

"I'm writing/I'm a writer" sounds like you're sitting on your parents' couch  scratching your arse, raiding their fridge and, occasionally, typing something you deem to be your magnum opus. That magnum opus will likely never see the light of day, and you will spend the next 10 years calling it your "work in progress" that only a dearest BFF will have the honour (or horror) of reading.

I knew someone who got a lot of lip (even from me) about his choice to pursue "the dream" instead of finding a "real" job and dabbling in the dream on the side. He had the luxury to forego traditional work and focus on the ultimate goal. The guilt trips that came with it were overwhelming. People want you to feel bad about it, because pursuing that sort of dream - writer, filmmaker, musician, painter, ect. - is a frivolous affair. To put it bluntly, if you aren't holding a shovel, you aren't contributing.

However, intellectual work is still work. In fact, deciding to write something of significant length takes enormous discipline. There is nothing tangible at the end of the tunnel in way of motivation. You dream of being published, of selling, of financial success and critical acclaim, but none of it is guaranteed. Dreams may fuel the spirit, but they don't feed mouths.

2 years ago, I chose to go full throttle and made a calendar for 6 months - June through December. This was the timeline for writing my first novel (I previously wrote a feature length script - let's leave that experience for another entry). If a traditional job became available, I'd take it. Otherwise, I would press on with making the writing goals come true. I forgot about the guilt of not having to work 3 jobs in order to support myself and existed humbly in a tiny room with only the most pertinent necessities, living on the dwindling safety net of savings and an odd job here or there.

The timeline stuck. The manuscript was finished. I queried hundreds of lit agents. When nothing happened, I queried publishers. Finally, there was a small, but credible lead with a boutique publisher. After weeks of rewrites and nail biting, a contract was signed. I understand that being published this way will not explode my bank account overnight. It is, however, the beginning of something wonderful, a stepping-stone for bigger and better things. The point is - hard work pays off, usually not when you want it to or not in the ample quantities you desire, but you can make the dream take hold.

Welcome! Приветствую!

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