|From Bo's Cafe Life|
I've just been reading You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing and it made me think about what it's like to be a professional writer.
Scalzi has an interesting history. He's known since he was around fourteen that he wanted to write for a living because it was easy for him compared to say, maths. He's making a good living at writing but not mainly based on writing novels (or not at the time he wrote You're Not Fooling...) He's written a lot of non-fiction including articles for various publications and he's willing to take on most commissions if they pay well enough.
It clarified for me why I don't want to be a professional writer. If you're a writer you have to write whether you want to or not. Now I've done my fair share of writing for a job and quite enjoyed it. I had five years in the Civil Service mostly drafting documents, and I had regular reports to write in my last job for The Place2Be. That was fine but it's not what comes easiest to me. If I had to choose a job based on making a living at things that I'd want to do anyway, I'd choose to work with children.
And I do! (And what's even better is that we'll soon be getting a cook at our after-school club so I won't have to do the one bit of the job that I don't really care for.)
You know you're doing a job you like when you don't keep having to remind yourself "Well, at least I'm getting paid for this."
According to Scalzi, most fiction writers earn their living at something else. For him it's non-fiction writing; for me it's working with children. I'm not ready to give up my day job and I'm not sure I ever will be. What about you?