Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Jumping Off Cliffs

Blechta at the edge...

Some of our recent discussion on Type M has dealt (at least peripherally) with coming to grips on how far we're willing to go as writers towards compromising our "artistic vision" -- vis-a-vis on sex and violence -- of our books. (Confused? Read the last week or so of entries. It will all become clear.)

I was playing devil's advocate with last week's entry, posing a lot of "what if?" questions to stimulate further discussion, but something last Friday has been dumped in my lap that brings "what if" to a whole new personal dimension.

As writers, I think I can speak for all of us on Type M, that our primary goal is for our book sales to be such that they can support us financially. My idea certainly has been to be able to come down to my "office", shut the door, and emerge several hours later with a few more pages of my latest novel stored on the computer's hard drive. Day's work done, I can then do other things I enjoy.

The reality is that most days I have to work at another job (graphic design) for 8 or so hours, then commute home (another hour), shovel some food into my mouth, and then go into my office and hope that I have enough energy and concentration left to actually make some progress on my latest work-in-progress. The further reality is that some days, the gas tank is empty -- or should I say "my head"? -- and no work gets done that evening. This is what most writers have to do. Our book sales income just doesn't make enough money to support us.

What am I trying to get at? Just this: my employers informed me last week that they're shutting their business for a year (maybe even permanently), and while it will take them a good bit of time to wind things down, the stark reality is that I have to find another way to make enough money to keep body and soul together.

The big question is: could this be the time to trust in my writing skills and the prospect of making enough money from my output (we're talking some foreign rights sales here) to jump off the Grand Canyon-sized cliff I've been standing at the edge of for the last 16 years? There are lots of considerations, the primary one being: I'm not just making money for me. I could handle starving in a garret for a year, if I were the only one doing the starving. I cannot ask others to starve along with me.

So, like having my editor saying, "I don't like the ending you've put on your book. Change it to this or I'm afraid we can't publish it," I'm faced with a dilemma: toss the dice and see if they come up with seven, or play it safe and find another job, one which will more than likely lead to further constrictions of my writing time.

It's not a comfortable place to be.


That's also my excuse why I'm, yet again, late with my entry. It's better than, "My dog erased my blog entry," isn't it?


Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

Wow, Rick. That's a scary leap. I can relate, as I've been postponing a "real" (read paying) job until my kids grew up. The younger one will be a h.s. senior next year, gulp. And I need to contribute to the family income. So let me know how it goes. I'm going to be trying to increase my earnings, too. Good luck, and let's keep sharing the thoughts. Wish I had an answer for you.

Donis Casey said...

Oh, mercy, Rick. I wish you the very best of luck. I wouldn't have been able to make the decision to write full-time without my husband's help - economically and emotionally, nor do we have young kids to worry about.
Please keep us informed. We're all going to be sending you as much good ju-ju as we possibly can. I hope it turns out to be the best thing ever, if you can manage not to have a nervous breakdown first.

Charles benoit said...

Change is great! - when you're the one making it. When it's thrust on you, packaged as an "opportunity" or worse yet, a "challenge", it flat-out sucks.