'The dream'

When I had just graduated from college and fantasized about someday being a full-time writer, I pictured myself having the following schedule:

1. Roll out of bed, get the New York Times, read it in my kitchen. Listen to the birds in my back yard.
2. Diligently write for a few hours.
3. Go have lunch at a little cafe. People would be used to me there and some would talk to me about what they're writing or reading.
4. Do a few more hours of writing.
5. Eat dinner.

Of course, that didn't take into account many factors:

1) It's risky to live on writing income alone, unless you hit the big time right away. And that almost never happens. If you finally sell a book, the typical first-time writer's advance is about $10K. It is still a dream to get a book published, but you can't exactly live for a year on $10K. Now, it's likely that you'll get a two-book deal, because if the publishing company liked your first book, they want to make sure they have your second. So let's say you get a $20K advance. That means you have a lot of money to play with, but you also now have to write the second book. If that takes a year, you're living on $20K in a year - minus 15 percent to your beloved agent, and minus say 20 percent to Uncle Sam. And if you don't think your second manuscript in good enough shape after you've been writing it for a year, you'll need longer...

(Disclaimer: These do not necessarily represent the advances I got, just giving typical first-time novelist advances. I am also not considering royalties, which you get if you sell maybe 5,000 or more copies of yer book. Because of the chick lit boom when my first book came out, I got lucky in that respect.)

2. The fact that being a "full-time" writer really means you have to be secure enough to pay your own health benefits, etc. etc., otherwise it's still smart to keep at least some sort of regular job. Particularly if you don't know whether your 2nd or 3rd books will be finished and accepted.

3. If you were to have days off completely to write, that dream of reading the Times in the morning might dissolve when you start oversleeping and suddenly get up at 10 and realize you have to get writing done. Ah, the best-laid plans...

4. The procrastination factor -- still need to call plumber, do research for writing, go to library, etc.

5. Staying home all day and not socializing or doing some sort of job could adversely impact your creativity -- especially since sometimes the best ideas come if you're doing other things.

Do you still want to be a full-time writer? It has its plusses and minuses. Even the successful young literary lions sometimes do part-time professorships or have some other income. Look at how Ned Vizzini worries about his finances on his blog a lot.

I still maintain that whatever happens, getting someone to pay you for your words is a near-miracle, and I'm a very lucky person that it happened to me.


Later today, I will post the answer to the trivia question below. No, it is not Wwarren G. Harding.

I hear that trivia last night had a decent-to-low turnout, because of rain and because it's a short week and first trivia game post-hiatus. I will probably go next Tuesday to show my support. It's time to get trivia movin' again!

One of the team names was reportedly "Six Feet Down Under." Tee hee! ;)

No comments: