View Full Version : Day jobs?

02-18-2008, 06:55 PM
(I put this in Office Party just to be on the safe side)

When I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It's the only thing that I have consistently wanted to do throughout my life (whereas I grew out of 'archaeologist', 'egyptologist', 'barrister' and whatever the other million things were I considered). At the same time though, I knew from high school that I would need to get a 'day job' to pay my way until I was published.

My question is, really, has anyone else gone with this sort of plan, as opposed to taking to writing later in life when you're already established in some other profession? Or is that a really stupid way to set up your life, not really focussing on the other career but seeing it as more just something to pay the bills while I write? It's kind of like I've always seen writing as my primary career, even if I'm not published, as it's something I'm working at constantly no matter what else I do, if that makes sense. Or is that a really daft way to think? Just to clarify though, I'm under no delusions that I could make a load of money writing, that's not what I mean by 'primary career'. I just mean the one in which advancement and achievement is most important to me.

I've always wanted to do well in whatever I ended up doing as a 'day job' but so long as it paid well and was enjoyable, I'd never really given much mind to things like promotion prospects or anything like that. I put 100% into what I'm doing now (which is working in TV, in a really minor behind the scenes role) but it's never been as important to me as getting published.

Reason I'm asking is that I got one of my exam results today and yet again I have a mediocre grade, which means the chances of my getting an upper second in my degree are pretty slim, and that means I won't get into the postgraduate law course I wanted to go into (as I wanted, ultimately, to teach legal history). So I'm now reconsidering what I can do once I graduate, and right now the idea of doing another degree seems most appealling. I'm thinking seriously about carrying on with history, which I started this year as an extra course in my law degree, and also doing English / creative writing. Just got me thinking about how I balance everything out, whether I should stop just getting jobs that pay well and maybe think about something more long term, but I have no idea what.

I'm sorry if that's a bit rambly and makes no sense. I'm a bit overwhelmed trying to figure out what I'm meant to be doing, and a bit upset with that exam result to tell the truth.

02-18-2008, 07:24 PM
I went with the "writing is my career, everything else is just a job to pay the bills" attitude from the time I was young--about 25 years now. I dropped out of college because it was boring and I hated it. I let my mother talk me out of other career opportunities. Let me tell you--living hand to mouth sucks and that's the best I've ever been able to do. Especially after getting married, having kids, and then becoming a single parent.

If I had to do it over, I would've either finished college or thrown myself into establishing a career that didn't demand hand-to-mouth existence. Every time I'm out of work (which is too frequent in my lifetime) or hit with an unexpected expense or injury, there's too much stress to be creative because there's no financial cushion to fall back on. I can't even manage to keep a savings account alive most years. Living has given me an entirely different perspective on the dreams of publication and the realities of getting there.

Dreams of publication are great inspiration--but make sure you can not only survive but thrive a little from other sources.

02-18-2008, 07:32 PM
Early on I realized writing is a subjective art. "Starving artist" takes on a more sinister note for a writer because we can't sit on a sidewalk somewhere and sell our wares.
So, in college I opted for the major that would land me a decent paying job and minored in English so I could still get a decent education in what I really wanted to do.

The good news is I have a job I enjoy, have time to write after work and my first novel has been accepted and should be coming out next year!

02-18-2008, 08:45 PM
Dreams of publication are great inspiration--but make sure you can not only survive but thrive a little from other sources.

My current job pays very well, in relation to the actual demands it makes on my time. To be honest, other than having a few dead spots (for instance when the football season finishes, as I work a lot on sports broadcasts), it's kind of ideal for me, and I'd be quite happy to just keep working there and studying and trying to write.

Just never having had any other vocation, in terms of 'day job', I've never had anything that's spurred me on and that I've had any ability for, other than writing, I think I've tended not to pay much attention to planning for the future, just made sure I had a well paying job right now. Now I think I might be too old and too late to find something by way of a long term career. Wasted my life thinking I could be a writer.