Thursday, February 7, 2019

The world is ending. Quit your day job? Or not?

I've gravitated away from Twitter in the past few months, but every once in awhile I scroll through to see what the latest drama is in the book world. This week, I scanned through the Dan Malloy scandal, although stopped short of reading The New Yorker article. Then I saw this gem:

I don't know how many replies this has, but based on my very scientific method of how long I had to scroll, it's a lot. Some people are all like, "Hell, yeah. Do what you love." Most people (including me) are raising an eyebrow saying, "Um...hang on just a second."

Not that I disagree with this completely. I think in an ideal world, I'd be the first to sign on this dotted line. But...I like to eat. And pay my mortgage. And, and, and... (I live in the UK and don't pay for healthcare, but if I lived in the US I'd add that to the list, too.) The truth is - I don't know many people for whom writing pays enough for them to throw their heart and soul into it, unless they have a spouse who earns, a trust fund, or a mysterious benefactor whose sole interest is in their gorgeous prose. (Also, if anyone does have a mysterious benefactor, I want to know more about that because it would make a pretty awesome book, yes?)

I'm lucky to be writing more or less full time right now, although it happened more through a conflux of circumstances than me flinging myself into it with abandon. And I couldn't do it without my husband's very good job. More importantly, I wouldn't want to. If my circumstances were that I was the sole provider for my family all of a sudden, I'd be hitting Linkedin faster than you could say resume because relying on this writing income? It's stressful! And undependable! And seemingly at the whims of the big companies who control much of the distribution and the advertising. Does anything kill creativity faster than having to scramble through a technical glitch of your book not uploading or your ad account suddenly being suspended? I just had a new release this week and I can say with certainty that even though I had NEITHER of those things happen to me, I did spend way too much time on the phone with Amazon customer support. And when I finished (even though they resolved my problem) I tried to write and it was rubbish. I ended up deleting it all, which was a luxury. (Also a necessity, but that's another thing.)

Working a day job isn't "selling out", in my opinion. It's not giving up a dream because it doesn't have to be either/or. I sold my very first book when I was working full-time. I self-published my first series while I was working the most stressful job I've ever had. Did I dream of the day when I could write full-time? Sure. But I also knew/know that publishing income is not the same as day job income. At least not for me. Yet.

What are your thoughts? I saw some Twitter responses from a few of the contributors to this blog and I'd love to hear what you think, too!


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

Especially in the U.S., quitting a day job could mean losing your healthcare. It's a lot easier to write when you're not stressed about money. Some indie authors make enough money to quit day jobs, but that's not the likelihood for everyone.

I'm with you. Keep your day job and keep your insurance.

Karissa Laurel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karissa Laurel said...

My favorite response to the quit your day job argument is "But I like my day job." And also, it's okay to like to do more than one thing. Being creative isn't an all or nothing option. And if I'm not a real artist because of that viewpoint then my naysayers can kiss my butt. LOL

Carrie Beckort said...

I think people can totally have a day job and pursue their dream - it just takes a lot of hard work. I have the luxury of not currently working a day job, but I didn't quit to write. I quit for other personal reasons and started writing to fill the time while my daughter was at school. During that process, writing became my dream and now if I had to go back to a day job then I'd find a way to continue to write.

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