Saturday, October 18th, 2008 • No Comments on I Want to Be Joe
I’ve been Tumbling, but I haven’t been blogging. Not for a lack of stuff to write about, more for a lack of concentrated time. By the time I’m thinking about blogging, I’m also thinking about sleeping. What a novelty! I have had three or four decent nights’ sleep since Jay got home, which is quite amazing. I could still use, oh, another hundred or so to make up for the past couple of months, but I will take what I can get.
I have had conversations about writing lately, both with writers and non-writers, regarding the current era of economic panic and financial strife. (Also know as “in these dark times”—a phrase I first read on Mary Anne’s blog, but is quickly catching on.) The stock market is plummeting (woe, my IRA!), the housing market is closed to all but those with the best credit, gas costs an arm and a leg (well, just an arm
week), nothing feels certain or stable or hopeful because, gasp!, we’re in a recession. Perhaps the election in a couple of weeks will turn things around. We all can hope. But the reality is that in these dark times, like in the best of times, us writerly types still keep writing and hoping the next sale will be the one that allows us to remove at least one of the hats we must wear.
What am I talking about? The world of writing—and I am not referring to the world of King, Steele, Grisham, Patterson, Roberts and a few dozen others who live in an entirely different solar system—is filled with hardworking, talented writers who wear multiple hats in order to survive in the world. This is true in a boon economy as well as “worst financial crisis since the Depression.”
There is a reason there are hundreds of books about making a living as a writer (Amazon gave me 1,182 results) as opposed to, say, how to make a living as an accountant, doctor or plumber. Joe the plumber knows how to make a living—he does so well, he wants to buy the business! Writers, on the other hand, don’t have the cash laying around to buy a publishing house—or any house at all, in a lot of cases.
I know writers who, in addition to writing full or almost-full time, are also editors, literary agents, proofreaders, copywriters and writing teachers. It’s the lucky writer who can manage to stay in their field and still make a living. And by “make a living” I do
mean “make money.” Anyone who is dedicated to writing will, eventually, make some money at it. Seriously. However, the money they will make might pay for a nice meal but rarely will pay the mortgage. And while one writing check or writing assignment
pay one month’s mortgage, it is a very lucky thing, indeed, if a writer can hope for eleven more opportunities in a given year.
I’m speaking primarily about fiction writers here. Magazine writers, technical writers, newspaper journalists and those who have managed to spin blogging into a lucrative writing income (which is definitely not me!), are often more able to make that elusive living (though I know some writers who still have to write for multiple magazines or newspapers). No, it’s the lowly fiction writers (and even lowlier poets) who wear the many hats in order to make a living, in good times and bad. And, when times are bad (like now), a lot of them contemplate giving up writing to become an accountant, doctor or plumber.
Why aren’t presidential candidates chatting it up with fiction writers in the meet-and-greet lines? Because fiction writers are at home (or in Starbucks) busily writing in hopes that this story, this novel, this proposal will be the one that allows them to have the aspirations of an Ohio plumber.
We all can hope. And keep writing.