Getting Paid

The headline should in fact read: Equating getting paid sporadically for doing something you love which leaves you no time to go out and get a ‘real’ job which would pay you regularly.

I’ve struggled with this for years and I know a large part of it is the nagging suspicion that being paid for something I feel incredibly lucky to be doing at all is ridiculous. Also that since I love writing so much it is not a ‘real’ job.

Although I know how hard it is to write professionally both in terms of the actual physical effort it requires and the self-confidence and perseverance needed to keep at it, still I often feel like a slacker.

And I always feel as if I could work harder at it. I berate myself for spending time surfing the web, checking email, watching TV.
I should be a writing machine! At the moment I aim to finish two books a year, and I’ve managed to do that pretty much consistently since 2006 while holding down a full-time job, but of those books only two have been published so far.

And that’s a hairy fly in the ointment. Another hurdle. Oh yes, they just keep coming!

I don’t think there is a job on the planet with so many intangibles.

If I write it, they will read it.
Well, no not always.

If I write it, it will sell.
Wow, I almost had a panic attack just writing the sentence above because this is not a truth either.

If it sells, it will be a big deal.
My deals have gotten better. My last deal was a whole decimal place better than my first deal, BUT spread out over a couple of years, it doesn’t look so good. And in between book 1 and book 2 were a couple of books that never saw the light of day. And if book 2 does badly, then my next book probably won’t command a better advance.

Sigh.

Lately of course the whole uncertainty has been weighing on me more.
We moved, I stopped working outside the home, I got divorced.
I am a single mother now with two kids under the age of 10, and making myself totally available to my kids and giving them the kind of home-life I wish them to have, seriously curtails my job possibilities.
No one is going to hire someone to work 2 or 3 hours a day,someone who has to stay home unexpectedly to nurse a sick kid, or has to take off two months in the summer to hang out with her school-age child during his vacation. My ex works most days on the road and his schedule is far less flexible than mine so I fill in. And next year both of them will have summer vacation.

And this is dependent on whether I could even find the energy to work a regular job, look after the kids for most of the week, and still write as much as I do.

I know I could write on the weekends, and at night after they’ve gone to sleep, but by the time Thursday rolls around again, I am exhausted and I need a little ‘me’ time.

I could do it, I guess. I’ve done it in the past. It would kill me but I could do it if I had to.

“What is this sleep thing you keep talking about?”

It’s not about ‘to write or not to write.’ That is not the question. It is ‘whether to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ and put away the writing for a time and go work retail again. And put the kids in after school daycare so I can work an 8 hour day.

The publishing game is kind of pinned on a hope and a prayer, and most of it is dependent on other people and the decisions they make. All we can do is write the damn story.

I think the same thing that allows us to write, that forces us have to do it no matter what, also lets us continuously hope. I can imagine that it’s all going to work out and I can almost, just about, convince myself that this is a truth if I just keep working really hard at it.

Just about.

This entry was posted in life, posts, the writing process. Bookmark the permalink.


3 Responses to Getting Paid

  1. Donna says:

    I work full time (8.30-5.30), I have three kids, and I still produce two books a year.

    It can be done.

  2. Elaine says:

    I go through these thoughts so often!! There are easier ways to attempt to earn a living and the ups and downs of the publishing process aren’t something you have to deal with in regular jobs, that is for sure.

    Writing may be art, but to desire to earn a living by your craft is, in my opinion, not really any different than someone who earns their living as a surgeon. He or she performs their craft and gets financially compensated for their skill and endures years of honing these skills before reaping the benefits. But, they still get paid for what they are gifted to do. And that makes total sense to me.