Wednesday, May 8

The Writing Life: Goals and Sacrifices

I was having coffee with a friend last night and she mentioned that she was thinking about law school--maybe. She's a level headed adult, so I wasn't telling her anything she didn't know when I suggested weighing her career goals/desires against the sacrifices she'd have to make in order to pursue a law degree. The a...jury's still out on whether or not she's going to pursue the degree. (Yeah, I know bad pun!) Law school isn't just expensive, it's a time consuming endeavor.

I didn't think much of the topic of goals and sacrifices until a little later on that evening another friend PMed me and asked how I balance writing fanfiction with original fiction. I had to be honest: I don't. I haven't written fanfiction in several years. I have several stories hanging, waiting to be finished. I want to finish them--I just don't have time. (I still keep saying someday I will).

Being a writer means making sacrifices. It means that I have to tell my husband (who is really very supportive) that, no, I do NOT want to sit down and watch Doctor Who right now, I'm working. No, I do NOT want to go to the movies right now, I'm working. No, I do NOT want to go to visit his mother (I love my mother in law) right now, I'm working. No, I do NOT want to go takt the dog to the park right now, I'm working. He'll just have to go and do these things without me. And I'm one of the lucky ones; right now, I don't have an evil day job. (Every time I try the universe conspires to kick me in the ass and I don't stay there very long. I think I'm just going to take the hint and write!)

Most writers, however, do have evil day jobs. Even if it's an evil day job that you happen to love, doing that and writing is like having two full time careers.

But the pursuit of any artistic endevour, whether it's writing or art or acting or music requires sacrifices, and those sacrifices are by necessity equal to your goal. My goal is to actually be able to earn a living off my writing. I kinda have to, it's not really a choice...and yet the universe may be kicking my butt so hard because I set myself up for it to. My goal has always been to be a fulltime writer. One of the sacrifices is giving up the security of a steady paycheck. That's not an easy sacrifice for me. I crave stability. I'm also terrible and "endings". I'm great at starting a project, but ending it takes a lot more effort. (I'm a Capricorn and Capricorn is Cardinal Earth. Cardinal signs are notorious for being great starters. Finishers, well.... yeah.) But knowing this going in, I just have to learn better startegies for finishing projects.

And that too is its own kind of sacrifice, because finishing for me is hard. But so is not making money and while of course I write because I love it, I can't pay the electric bill with copies of unpublished manuscripts; the book has to be written, sold to a publisher, produced and then promoted because these days writing a book isn't just sitting back and writing a book. The best promotion will always be to write the best stuff you can--or to paint the best pictures, write the best songs, act in as many plays as you can land jobs in, etc--but we still have to get out there and blog, Tweet, Facebook, Tumbl--or whatever they do on Tumblr. We have to Pin and pimp ourselves. And still find time to write great stories or paint awesome pictures, sing great songs, etc.

It requires time.

It requires effort.

It requires sacrifice.

And for me, it's still the best job in the world!

More on goals and sacrifices tomorrow!



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