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Business of Writing: Sometimes survival is victory

September 14, 2013

Usually, we have industry news in this spot each Saturday. This week, a check of all the usual websites didn’t produce anything that raised my pulse rate, and to be bluntly honest, I don’t care.

I mean, I care, but it’s Friday night and no one’s suing the big Five, Amazon hasn’t gobbled anyone whole, and pretty much all the typical lawsuit action has subsided for the moment. More to the point, this week has been a month of Mondays and–as I instant messaged a co-worker–it feels like that month has been spent in a boxing rink with an octopus-Mike Tyson mutant.

I’m feeling tired and beaten about the head tonight, and the j-o-b has a lot to do with that. If only I could get that big break and a new book deal, I’d get to do what I really, really love and I’d never have weeks like this, right? RIGHT?

Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

The thing about writing is that it’s a business. And for the writers who use it to pay the bills, it’s a job, just like any other job. That means some weeks are going to be the weeks in which the need to pay the mortgage is what keeps you going. The kid needs braces or the car needs repair. Or a snake got in the dryer and caused it to stop working (it happened in my house).

To paraphrase the great Lynn Anderson, you were never promised a rose garden.

In other words, sometimes you writing job will be every bit as stressful and unnerving as your days as a wage slave.

But wait, you say, I did (or I’m doing) all that work to get away from that garbage. When I’m writing, no Gary Cole-wannabe is going to come to me and say, “Yeah, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and work this Saturday.”

Wrong!

I’m gonna need you to go ahead to do those revisions tomorrow, mmm-kay?

You’re going to be that Gary Cole-wannabe. And the demands of the craft and your contract will be your master. And you may have to make stupid changes to your manuscript that you don’t believe in for someone you don’t know who doesn’t know the back of his lap from a hole in the ground.

There may even be days when you long for the days when you might have had to kiss your boss’s butt, but at least you got health insurance.

Sometimes, just getting to the end of the week will feel like victory.

And that’s okay, because sometimes it is. Even if you’re doing the job of your dreams.

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One Comment
  1. September 14, 2013 10:29 am

    You always hit the mark, Chris. And with feeling.

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