The Writing Life, Part. . .Whatever

So, Steve is on his way to ReCONstruction, the Tenth Occasional North American Science Fiction Convention, in Raleigh, North Carolina.  I had planned to go, but decided to stay home and work on Ghost Ship, which was due on Sunday, and still 50 grand short of a book.

My couple days of being able to stay inside the book paid off in that I now know not only how the dern thing ends, but how it gets there — which is gratifying.  I’ve been alternating making notes with writing straight ahead, sentence structure be damned, with the goal of having a completed draft by the time I finish my vacation and go back to the day-job.  The logic here is that I can edit while the day-job is dinning in both ears, but lately I’ve been having a bad time writing, ditto.  I think I may be starting to crack under the sheer weight of numbers.

A while ago, one of my co-workers at the day-job asked me why I didn’t give up already with the “hobby” (that would be this), when it so plainly added a lot of stress to my life.  I explained that, in 2007 and 2008, I earned significantly more at my “hobby” than I earned at the day-job; and would have done in 2009, as well, had any one of two payments scheduled for late fall arrived then, instead of in the first quarter of 2010.  In 2010, I can’t tell yet which is winning, honest labor or hobby, because some scheduled payments are late.

You’re seeing the pattern here, right?  What the day-job has in its “pro” column are:  (1) on-time delivery of scheduled payments, and (2) affordable access to decent health care.

If I could get (2) any other way, the day-job and I would part company.  Mind you, I don’t like uncertain payments, but I have coping strategies, built over a decade of freelancing without a net, and years of occasional short rations previous to that.

Which brings us, roundabout, to the question of why people make art:  musician, writer, painter, sculptor — there are very few working artists who make very much money at their art, though some of us can pretty consistently manage a modest living (yes, I did say I earned more as a writer than as a secretary).  There is, of course, the Adulation of Millions, but most artists of my acquaintance are pretty realistic about that aspect of the work.

Many working artists who do have day-jobs consciously choose to stay at a “lower” level, in order to have time and space to practice their art.  I’ve made that decision myself, several times.  We’re not idiots, most of us; we know what a promotion and the attendant mission-creep will do to the time we have for our work.

So!  What have you  — yes, you — given up for your art?  Have you ever been tempted to give up your art?  Have you given up your art?  Do you regret it?  Tell all; inquiring minds want to know.

And!  The galley proofs for Carousel Tides have just landed in my in-box.

2 thoughts on “The Writing Life, Part. . .Whatever”

  1. Well, my hobby has produced nothing but negative income so far 🙂 So giving up the day job is impossible. My day job also provides the affordable health insurance for my family (hubby’s job could do it, but it would cost a lot more and cover a lot less, and one of my kids has some bigger medical bills to stress about).

    I was able to knock back to 4 days a week. The rationale (to the day job managers and anyone to whom I have not yet admitted an addiction to writing) is that with kids in school, and the copious days off that they have every year, that I would be taking off a day every week anyway. In reality, about 1/3 of my “days off” are spent writing.

    Beyond that, I’ve given up most TV watching, though I don’t really miss that. I’ve given up plenty of my “free” time, but I don’t know what I used to do with it all. Watch TV, probably, or sit around and not do much. Probably clean. I don’t miss that at all.

    I do sometimes miss being bored. I’m never bored anymore. There are too darned many people in my head, all involved in exciting lives and pestering me to write about them.

  2. I’ve tried to earn a decent income while continuing to write, but with becoming ill and Not Knowing What Was Wrong at first, as the cost of the medical insurance rose and the ability to work at anything vanished, well…it’s been more exciting than I’d care for.

    Now, in a tiny apartment surrounded by boxes, I am recovering my mind and ability to focus — which I hope will mean writing, although right now I’m trying to pull together e-books on older stuff to maybe scrounge up some money?

    May need to move to a CHEAP part of the country, which will dent my heart — I do love the Hill Country, despite the evil late summer weather.

    But one decision has been reached. At this point, if I can somehow manage to get hired at anything that will pay the bills without driving me insane, even contract, the writing and art will now, always, come first.

    Attempts to Play Nice with the mundane world have produced neither job security nor happiness. So why not go with what makes me happy?

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