Over on Facebook, a friend put up this post and it got me thinking about my "career" (laugh) as a writer, both in its present state and in the future. Could I do that? Could I be a full time writer. I dream of it, like all of us that write do, but reality is a different beast all together.
Now, a few things to note. I am not published. I'm inching closer, I think, and believe in my heart of hearts that one day you will be able to go to your bookstore or click on to Amazon and find my books their, but for now I still proudly bare the banner of "aspiring author." But I'm not approaching it from the angle of a NAIVE aspiring author.
I've always approached the business rather pragmatically and think that I understand parts of it...and other parts I don't, but still I don't get all ruffled over form rejections or nonresponses they way some do. I understand that this is part of the game, but when you enter the game all bets are off. The publishing world is a brutal one and I've been through the grind. I've talked about the "upheaval" for the last few months and while I'm not ready to talk in great detail about it, I left my agent in April. It's left me borderline crushed and I've been in a malaise ever since. But that's not the purpose of this post, I want to talk about my career. Leaving my agent is a story for another time.
I have a pretty good gig as a teacher right now. For the second year in a row I am teaching nothing but seniors. It's a different beast, but one that I think I've managed to wrangle in, but no matter what, it's not a bad gig. I make decent money, I have decent benefits, good hours and I even get to teach creative writing this year. But as with all teachers, there is the feeling of "the call" when it comes to our jobs. I'll admit that the last few years have been trying on my sense of "the call" but even at its darkest, I love what I do. That moment when you see a kid "get it" or when you teach them something that they've never learned before. This year I had to teach a senior how to write a signature. Those are the things that don't show up on any teaching evaluation and the reason I do the job. I have said more than once that I can't imagine not teaching. Plus, I've worked at least one job or another since I was in middle school. I don't know what it's like not to go to a job.
That being said, the fantasy of being a full time writer is appealing but, as I see it right now, a complete and total fantasy that I don't think I could indulge right now or any time in the near future. I grew up understanding the stress of "money" and more to the point not having a lot. And that understanding drives me and my "dream" of being a full time writer. I know the nature of the business and understand that it is highly unlikely that I'll ever be successful enough to not work as a teacher. It's a reality that isn't a reflection of what I believe my talent level is, (One of the great nuggets my former agent gave me was to never doubt you or insult the work. You are great) it's just an understanding that my name isn't Rowling, King, Patterson or some celebrity writing the memoir of my years before I became a viral YouTube sensation.
This doesn't mean I've completely given up the fantasy. Who knows, maybe SEASONS OF DESTINY or THE FALCON & THE CROW or THE LOST SCIONS will hit huge, get me a deal for a second rate movie that will fail miserably at the box office while I'm sitting in my custom made writing shed writing and tooling around town in my matte black Dodge Challenger. But I know this is an extreme fantasy. I'll be honest, I'd be ridiculously satisfied if I made enough money so I could take an early retirement in ten years or my wife could quit working full time. Ah, this is the stuff of fantasies. I need to write for now. I can feel the gears turning a little and the rust falling off. I've got ideas to flesh out and try to make work in my notebook. Wish me luck.
And look for that matte black Dodge Challenger in your neighborhood.