20 January 2006

Where To From Here?

Warning: This is another one of those self-searching blog entries. The world is full of them. People who don't know where they're going, or why, posting at the speed of thought in an effort to make some kind of sense of it all. It's the ultimate in exhibitionism. It's more personal than posting nude photos, and sometimes it's even more risque.

Now, with that disclaimer out of the way...

When folks find out that I'm a freelance writer, they eventually get around to asking me something along the lines of, "Do you ever intend to write full-time?" This came up when I was letting folks know that I was leaving my job at the tooth factory, as if that was what I was going to be doing instead of ordering copy paper, cutting tools, and reclining task chairs with ergonomic back supports.

I used to think it was possible. I mean, I know it's possible, but "possible" and "probable" aren't the same thing. They're close cousins, but they're definitely two different takes on the same concept.

The meat of it is: would I want to write full-time?

The answer, of course, is yes. I'd love to write for a living. However, it's not something I can see happening realistically, at least, not any time soon. Being published does not equate to being wealthy; heck, it doesn't even equate to being "comfortably well-off." I'm proud of the work I've done, and of the work that I continue to do, but it has yet to pay for itself.

As it stands, I'm in pretty good with three or four companies who offer me writing jobs regularly. I attempt to follow the good advice I've been given in regards to these jobs: produce good work, and send it in on time. I can only assume that it is this mantra that has kept me busy for the past eighteen or so months. I'm busy, yes, but I'm working at my own pace, writing in my off-hours when I'm not slaving away at my day job.

Yep, my day job. Back to that sticky wicket.

See, the day job is what makes the freelancing possible. If it weren't for the regular paychecks I'm getting (or, rather, that I will be getting [at the new job]), I'd be living in a cardboard box, diving into dumpsters, or standing at a stop light with a "will write for food" sign.

I'd like nothing more than to be my own boss, to make my own hours, and to write about the things I love seven days a week. Yet what would I be giving up? Regular, (relatively) risk-free (not to mention guaranteed) paychecks. Health insurance. Paid holidays.

I'd have to beat the bushes constantly in order to keep the contracts coming in, and I'm not sure that I've got reputation enough to reliably land as much work as I'd need to land in order to keep the rent paid, the baby fed, and the gas tank filled up. Heck, I've got a full-time job now (or I will, come Monday), and making ends meet is still a pain in the ass.

So, would I like to write full-time? Sure, yeah, why not? But the sad truth is that this is about as "full-time" as it's going to get, at least for the time being. I'm not saying that someday, maybe, if God smiles upon me and I'm living like Stephen King in my own private Bangor, that I won't spread my wings and fly happily to the mythical land of Full-Time Author with a smile on my face.

Yet life gives us a lot of puzzles to solve, and so I'll twist away at the proverbial Rubik's Cube until I figure out how to get all the colors to their respective sides. Right now, the solution that seems to be working the best for me is that I am working full-time so that I can write part-time. As long as my wife and son don't mind me running off to Borders so that I can meet my deadlines, and as long as the publishers keep giving me those same deadlines, I plan to keep it up.

I'm wondering now why I got off on this rant. I'm not sure why. I guess that staying home with the sprout these past few days (even though the time spent alone with him was relatively short) has given me a new perspective. I haven't had anything to write, specifically (though I do have a synopsis I need to finish), but even if I'd had something on my plate, I doubt I would've gotten much of it done.

I also have a strange feeling that this year is going to be a busy one. Last year was busy, or so I thought. I have a feeling this year will be even more so. Do I mind? No, not really. Like I've said before, I enjoy the work. It's going to be a fine balancing act, weighing family vs. writing vs. everything else.

Can I do it? Yeah, I think I can. But I'm going to need to keep some perspective as I march along, just to stay sane.

Writing really is like a muscle. You have to work it all the time to keep it strong. Sometimes I lose sight of that, but I do try to write every day. Whether it's for a project, or merely a long-winded blog entry.

Ah, no more. Not tonight. Enough exercise for today. I'm about ranted out.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Good luck with your writing. I used to teach screenwriting. I also read that you work in the gaming industry. My friend, who composed an amazing original score for my "African Safari" DVD also composes music for video games.