I am tremendously lucky. I’ve got it so easy. My fiancée works full-time and pays the rent and the tax whilst I work half her hours and get to write in the gaps. My parents are writers and provide free proofreading services. I’m friends with writers and I can turn to them in hours of creative need.
I’m very lucky. And what it means is that I feel a real pressure to achieve. Because I know I should be spending time looking for better jobs and sending off applications. I have a future to think about, a wedding to plan. There are so many more things to do than write; things more important, more worthwhile. And I waste them doing this damn hobby of mine.
I like writing. I love those precious moments when you get in the zone and there’s no effort, the words just pour onto the page. I like the intellectual challenges where most of the work is done pacing up and down, deciding which leg of the trousers of time you’re going to push your protagonist down. Somebody shoot me but I even like the editing, going over the same old piece for the umpteenth time.
But how long can I keep doing this for? I mean, it’s not as if one day my ship will come in and I’ll get a six-figure publishing deal. Unless I’m astonishingly lucky I’m going to be raking in pennies, just a little pin money for the end of the month. The most I can hope for (dreams are different) is to make enough to make my total earnings up to full-time equivalent. Why not just skip the writing altogether and try that ‘career’ thing?
Or, alternatively, why don’t I self-publish now? I’ve got product, I’m clued up enough to do a bit of computer-based promotion. If I’m only ever going to get pennies, why not get them now? I seriously wonder if part of the self-publishing boom isn’t generated by an increased awareness of how the publishing industry works. People are less willing to take all the time and effort in getting first an agent and then a deal when they know that it’s almost a closed industry, what with all these celebrities releasing novels. No room for the rest of us. So why not just get those pennies and squeeze out a novel a year?
Isn’t it time I grew up? I want a family, I want to live comfortably and repay my debts to family and friends. I’ve been living this semi-respectable, semi-bohemian lifestyle for over ten years now. Isn’t it time I got my act together and picked up on one of those ‘future’ things?
But I live writing and I want my work to be read by as many people as possible. That’s my ego right there. And I think my ego is best served by taking the traditional publishing route. And I love what I do enough to keep me going every day, despite the uncertainty of the future and despite the doubts about my ability.
Damn it, though, real life can’t be put off forever.