I follow an entertaining blog of a woman who refers to herself as a struggling writer. I was thinking about that today because I am a struggling writer, too. I mean, I am really struggling.
I am in the process of trying to order the thoughts that are going through my mind. I’m working on the sequel to “Man Enough.” I have a new project that is going on in the background… something completely cool and different and unlike anything I have ever tried before. I don’t want to talk about it yet, but it is kind of obsessing me a bit. On top of that, I keep making outlines for the book I want to write after “Andy’s Song,” a book I started a few months ago, but put aside to work on this one. It’s like the floodgates have opened and there is no way to shove all of this crap back.
But that’s not really where the struggle part of writing comes in. All writers, whether they write historical fiction, or WWII memoirs, or blogs about celebrity gossip have a lot of ideas. We’re brimming with ideas. There may be a struggle to find the discipline to sit down and order them and get them on paper in a coherent way, but we have the ideas.
The struggle for a writer comes in trying to figure out how to make a living from our writing. I think all writers are struggling writers. I mean, unless you’re Stephen King or (cough, groan) that 50 Shades writer, I imagine that most of us are just trying to get the words down on paper and get paid enough to do what we love full time.
That’s what I’m really looking for. I don’t want fame. Fame really isn’t for me. I’m an overweight, middle aged lesbian. Can you see me making the talk show circuit? I certainly can’t. Wealth would be nice, but really, I’m happy driving the old mini-van that my sister gave me for free, wearing my thrift store clothes, and buying books at yard sales. On the one hand, it would be cool to move back out of my mom’s house, but on the other hand, I kind of like it here. She lets me spend countless hours writing and she makes me eat fresh fruit. Life isn’t that bad.
Really, what I want out of my writing career is to get paid enough money so that I don’t have to do anything else for a living. I was in the middle of an amazing scene in which my sexy menswear clad butch has pressed her femme date up against the wall and is threatening to take off her tie and do all sorts of naughty things with it and I realized that if I didn’t leave the house in exactly three minutes, I would be late for my day job. And I was still in my underwear.
While at my regular job, I find myself thinking of my characters. I smile and nod at appropriate points in my interactions with the customers, but in reality, I’m thinking, “Is that really in Danny’s nature to do that?” “Would Andy go strap-on shopping with Leah?”
So lately, I have been really stressing over having enough time to write. One of my writing heroes called me within minutes of me signing the contracts with my publisher, Sapphire Books, and said, “That’s great. You wrote a good book. You did the sexy part. Now you have to worry about marketing.” She was right. I have to work on selling myself and keeping my novel out there in people’s minds while the next one is being written. I need to get the word out. I have my first appearance the weekend after next and the idea has me in knots of anxiety.
So, there is the day job. There is the marketing of the current novel. There is the writing of the next novel and other projects. And there is the full-time school. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy.
Which is why I recently decided that the day job has to go. Now *that* is a terrifying thought. I may not make much money, but I get paid weekly. I don’t have to do anything special. I don’t have to rely on my own talent or discipline or intelligence or creativity. I simply show up and they give me money.
It doesn’t quite work that way with writing. No one is just going to give me money. I have to go out and get it for myself. And I don’t know if I have the balls or the talent or the marketing savvy or whatever it takes to do that. But I do know that I have good friends and family and I know that regardless of what else happens, I won’t go hungry and I will always have at least a couch to sleep on in various homes around the country.
I’ve given plenty of notice, a little over two months. I did that for them and for me. I figure the last day of “regular” work will coincide with my westward trek to California. I’ll be on the road with my dog and my laptop and a frozen turkey. (Don’t even ask.) By then, the royalties for the first sales will have started rolling in. It will be up to me to keep them coming in. Sure, I’ll be below the poverty level, but I’ll be there on my own terms, writing, marketing, and taking classes.
Wish me luck.