Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Dream and the Reality

You wake up at six and get your coffee. Maybe some toast or a waffle. Then you go to your computer and write your daily 2000. You're done by noon, and since the bills are now paid, the rest of your day is free. You know: family, get-togethers with friends, reading books. Maybe, a phone call from your agent, asking you if you want to accept the movie deal.

Is that your life?

Well, it's certainly not mine!

We all know that the odds of making a living - good or otherwise - from fiction writing are... well, let's agree that they're slight. This is the case even when writing and selling novels. (I understand that non-fiction writing is better in this respect, and technical writing better still.)

Anyway, I think it's fair to say that most of us have other jobs which pay the bills, and so we have to find time to write on weekends and during the evenings, which moms will know is supposed to be family time.

So, fiction writers, have you beaten the odds?

Do you intend to?

Or do you plan on writing for whatever money comes, and keeping your day job until you retire?


  1. If being a successful published author is in the cards for me, I'd like it to happen while my mother is still alive. My dream is for her to walk into a bookstore, which she does often, and see my novel on the shelf.

    I retire in about 12 years so, even if I am published before then, I'll continue working.

  2. Garth Nix had some really interesting insight into what it's like to finally make enough money that you can quit your day job and write full time. It's hard. There are so many aspects of life that can get in the way and gobble up your writing time. So he said he had to eventually treat it like a job, have an office space apart from his house, walk there and write.

    It's easy, from this side of the fence, to say that if I only had time, I'd write the next GAN. But, ultimately, I think it's just a cop-out and a refusal to take responsibility for the 24 hours we have in any given day. For me, anyway, it is.

    I wouldn't quit working, but I'd probably change professions if I made enough money: I would live out my childhood dream of homesteading and living off the land, which is, as anyone knows, much harder work than the old 9 to 5 grind.

  3. I'm fortunate in that my hubby makes enough money at his job that I don't have to work (as long as we're okay maintaining our very moderate, very tight budget). I do substitute teach, however, so I contribute a bit financially.

    I don't know that I'd want to quit subbing. I really enjoy it (no desire to teach, though). It gets me out of the house and in touch with people. Plus, it's only part-time.

    My husband and I sort of have an agreement about this. I'll keep working part-time and writing. If the writing starts to bring in enough money for me to quit subbing, then I'll focus on that full-time. Once I do that, I need to put EVERY effort into writing so that I can make enough money for the both of us and he can quit work to stay home with the kids :)

    As you can see, it's not a set-in-stone plan, but it's there.

  4. I am fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with the kids while my husband works, which affords me extra time to be able to write. Therefore I can continue this once my first book is published and I am working on the next. I have no expectations at all, however, that this will bring in enough money to support the family, enough income to treat it like a career. I would love that, though!

    If I actually was able to write full time and support the family, my husband would love to stay home with the kids.

    Otherwise, I'll just keep writing no matter what comes in and enjoy knowing that I am doing what I love to do.

  5. Someday I will make a living at this. Call it a pipe dream, or hapless hope. I can't help myself.

  6. Cindy, good for your husband!!!

    I was a stay at home dad for about a year and it was the best thing ever.

    I'm glad to have made the switch back into full time work, but there is no replacing quality time with kids. With that said, I've got to add in that dad's know weekends are for at least some quality family time too.

    I went through a masters program where feminists were hypersensitive (not wrong) about every word nuance, so I've got to speak up for the dad's out there. Clearly, Anthony and Doug are pretty sentimental about being dad's. Don't you love that!

    As far as money goes, I'd be extatic if a book deal actually paid for all the conferences I've gone to.

  7. Yes, Dave, I love being a Dad, even when it's hard.

    I have put some thought into this question and while I would love to write full time, I would also have to set up a separate place to write. There are too many distractions that get in the way during the day if I simply tried to stay home.

    I would most likely go to the nearest Starbucks and people watch while I write. It's amazing the conversations you hear, the funny things you can pick up, that you can use in your novel.

    Would I stop working? Probably not. I get too much good material from the workplace. If any of you out there watch the Big Bang Theory on TV, I have a guy at my office who is a dead ringer for Sheldon. He is the source of so much material (of course he doesn't know it) that I can't imagine writing without him.


Join the conversation, add insight, or disagree with us! We welcome your thoughts.