Sometimes I wish I had a telepathic link to my word processor. I get the greatest ideas for blog posts and stories while I’m in bed and too tired to think to write anything down. By the time I’m up and functional, the idea or at the very least, the mood is long gone.
But I shall try my best to remember exactly what it was I very much wanted to talk about today.
Speaking of today, there will be two posts today since I missed yesterday. Hurricane Irene and a migraine ruined my plans. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
First – Love and Money.
I don’t know how long I’ve had this battle. I know I was fairly young when I made a solemn oath that I shall never settle for anything just because it was safe or secure if I hated it. It’s primarily referring to relationships, but this also goes for work too.
Maybe I’m idealistic or naïve, but I’ve always resisted the idea of getting into a career field just because it was safe and provided a stable source of income. But even so, I’ve listened to enough warnings from well-meaning friends and family members that I’m also hesitant to go full out on my dream job.
Of course, that’s no good either.
In the end, I tried during both. I tried the college thing. But that didn’t work. Now I’m trying the “do what I love” thing, and it’s not exactly working as planned either. Not financially anyways.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about my bank account. I had taken loans out for college and soon enough those need paying. So what to do?
See, here’s the thing. I’ve seen those who decided the only thing they want to do is write. So they make it work. But even then, it’s not perfect.
Writers, whose true passion lies in fiction, end up writing how-to articles, essays, and copy. They copyedit or go into advertising. As long as it’s writing, it’s writing, right?
Even I thought I could do it. It doesn’t matter what I’m writing, as long as I’m writing and can pay my bills while writing. But now I’m too sure.
It feels like it would be the same if I had gotten a part time job at Kmart or something else, which would be easier and more stable. It feels like settling. And I resist that sensation…also I have no confidence in any of those areas and with no true passion to push me over that fear of the unknown, I get stuck.
Thus, I end up doing nothing…which is even worse.
So the clock is ticking. Those bills won’t pay themselves. What to do, what to do…
This may sound unrelated, but you know how some people talk about a book that has changed their lives forever? Well, I haven’t finished this book I’m currently reading, but I already know it’s going to or already has changed my life forever. Perhaps more my writing life than my actual life, but either way, for a writer, what’s the difference?
The book is “The Breakout Novelist” by Donald Maass (my future literary agent *cough*).
It’s not even the entire book itself. It’s just one part – one chapter; three pages.
Chapter 21: Status Seekers & Storytellers.
Maas talks about how there are two types of novelists, Status Seekers and Storytellers. Now, I recommend finding the book and reading this part yourself rather than take my word on what he’s trying to say. But basically, to me, it means there are those who write for money and success, and those who write to tell the best story they can tell.
Now, I know this is a very touchy topic. I know there’s a lot of debate over this. It’s art! It’s craft! It’s a job! Etc.
All I know is this. I write and create stories because I’ve seen and read stories that have moved me in ways I never thought I could be moved. And I write in order to duplicate that for others.
This was the goal in my head the first time I put pen to paper.
So if this is true for most writers…then money is a secondary motivation. It came after. The goal to make a living by writing stories so I can do this and nothing else, which I’m even pressured to do by myself and by the success of other writers (“If JK Rowling can do it, so can I!”). This goal came after.
BUT, the right order is crucial. This is the conclusion I’ve made. This is what divides those who make it and those who don’t make it.
Often writers make the mistake to put “making a living” before “writing a great story.” When that happens, it becomes difficult to do either.
I’m making this mistake. I realized I was acting like a Status Seeker. I cared more about getting published, getting the agent, making money and being “successful” than creating powerful fiction, which contradicts my original purpose for becoming a writer.
Now, I’m not gonna say money doesn’t matter. It does! But I agree with Maass. The most successful writers are the ones who have created the most powerful stories. So if you write a powerful story, the money and success will appear.
It comes down to faith. You can’t worry about the money, because it’ll distract you from doing the best work possible. It comes down to just having faith that it’ll work out.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
I’ll take five hundred part time jobs to pay the bills. I’m not writing to pay the bills. I’m writing to tell a great story.
And hopefully, after I wrote that great story, it’ll eventually pay my bills.