They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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Blunt Truth Trauma

For many of us working on becoming published authors, there is often annoyance at how our day jobs interfere with our writing. "If only I didn't have to waste three hours a day commuting to that part-time Physics teaching job, I'd have so much more time to work on my craft," you say. Okay, I would say. (grin) But it's true! Work and Life intrude greatly on the time available for writing.

On the other hand, when you're unemployed or underemployed, crap tends to hang around and devour chunks of your time, too. And during large stretches of time when I've between Physics jobs and did work on my writing, I hadn't yet gotten enough writing done so I could have a plan and work on sending anything out -- that would come ten years later.

Amongst my 2004 Clarion friends, I know several who have spent considerable time pre- and/or post-Clarion doing full-time writing, but only one who has chucked her job and has published multiple books. Go Marjorie webpetals!

The Awful Truth

One piece of recurring advice, from my Clarion instructors, Con panelists and writers online -- Don't Quit Your Day Job. Besides income, benefits (especially health insurance), and stability against the rocky roller coaster of SF publishing, there's power in getting out of the house and interacting with other people. Quite a number of SF writers I've run across are academics of varying stripes -- not all are writing instructors (grin), though many are. In my case, my ridiculous long commute gives me time to listen to the radio and learn things to think about, and occasionally dictate while I'm driving. Right now at the end of the semester, knee deep in papers and final exams, I'm not getting much physical writing done, but I'll have to catch up with transcribing my dictation when things free up! (More about that in another post.)

Screw the home office schtick. If I was going to be a full-time SF writer by choice, instead of happenstance such as not getting a contract in the Fall, I really wouldn't consider it unless I could rent some office space outside the home. While I might still do some writing at home, I'd want to be able to get out of the house. Otherwise, the next step would be never moving from the computer, not bothering to ever get dressed and becoming a big pale white slug of a mole person -- never seeing the sun. Ew-www!

Actually, I was lucky when I was unemployed, because I managed to buy a brand-new laptop which Zenith was closing out to educational users for a whopping $299, and so I was able to go by campus or other places and work for hours out of the house every day. Yay!

The Truth Revealed

One of the SF writers whose blog I'm reading these days is John Scalzi's Whatever. John's amazingly open about things and about six weeks ago actually answered The Money Question. It's a pretty interesting discussion and from the time I heard John at a Con panel, he's been up front that (a) he probably makes more than an average writer does and (b) he thinks a lot about how marketable his writing is. Not quite the same thing as following one's muse to the depths of poverty and opium addiction -- which is some idiot's romantic notion of How Things Should Be -- but he's got a kid and a wife and has to keep it all together.

This is worth a look.

Me? We're getting "somewhere" in this SF publishing biz, but it's way too early to voluntarily quit my day job -- and I really don't want to work so hard as a full-time free-lance writer... (double-accounting-entry-grin)

Dr. Phil


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