Where do I start?
I picked up the November issue of More Magazine this morning. I am researching what essay I should send them next as http://www.more.com was good enough to publish I Don’t Want to Buy Tampons earlier this year.
Page 114’s headline shouted 10 Great Careers for Women who want a Life. I began reading. (Direct info from page 119 of magazine) #7 was Writer. * Technical writer * web multimedia scriptwriter. Most Earn $53,070 Top 10% Earn $106,630 “Wendy Toliver, 38, an author of three young-adult novels who also ghost writes how-to and decorating books, does freelance corporate copywriting and editing, runs a writing camp for children in Eden, Utah, and keeps up two blogs.” Umm, I’d like to know how Wendy does this. I’d like to call bullshit except for the fact I love knowing women are succeeding and earning a living and have a career in writing. This is what I’ve always wanted. But the earning reality for me is this:
More.come published my article without pay. I paid my way in LA when I performed in Expressing Motherhood. And my short stories that were published earned me copies of the literary journal they were published in (this is typical for literary journals as many struggle to survive). So I’ve earned approximately $16 in goods. That doesn’t cover an ink cartridge.
I’m not dissing my accomplishments of being published or listened to. I’m actually thrilled with my progress. I am. Every time I hear a,”Yes we like your stuff,” I do a happy dance and tell everyone I know and even those I don’t. Regardless of the thrill I’m not paying any bills.
Toliver goes on to say, “You need a thick skin, because there is a lot of rejection; patience, because the publishing process can take months; and discipline, because nobody will stand over you and make you write.” She also claims to write while in the bleachers and in cars.
I don’t know how she is so prolific. My child is in preschool full time and this is the first time ever in my life I’ve been able to dedicate serious time to my craft and time to what I love the most, writing. The thing is I don’t know how she writes so much. I want to work the way she does. But comparing oneself to another is a dangerous thing.
I saw this today on Facebook
And this week I’m feeling even bluer because my writing group is falling apart. After more than a year of critiquing each others work in progress, we’ve hit a creative wall of sorts. And even though we have never met face to face I feel a great sense of loss because I’m losing feedback from women I trust and admire.
On top of that I am comparing myself to amazing writers that I know and have read. Have you read Kimberley Griffiths Little’s Circle of Secrets? If you are a YA fan or read MG than this is a must read.
She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary . Tracey is a super cool woman and I adore her because she has been generous with her time and runs a kick ass agency, seriously you should check out the deals they do. I know successful writers such as (name dropping drum roll please) Tod Goldberg, Rachel Resnick (http://writersonfire.com/Welcome.html and http://www.rachelresnick.com/) , Samantha Dunn, Rob Roberge, Justine Musk, Lisa Manterfield, Monica Carter (PEN USA emerging voices participant) I can go on and on.
But I doubt any one of them would say that it’s easy having a “life” and be a writer. It’s hard work filling in blank pages. And I wake up in the middle of the night all the time with ideas for essays, short stories and my book. And I haven’t even ever received notes back from a publisher, and I’ve seen them. They are intense and take a great deal of time and focus to work through.
So what’s my point? I guess it’s this- I love writing but it’s an ass kicker of a career choice and to take it up full time in my 40’s is daunting. I love my work-in-progress Life-Like. I can’t wait to have it ready for submissions to agents. But I have not developed the brain and finger muscles to write this blog, an essay a week, work on revisions to my book while submitting those essays, short stories, and poems to magazines and literary journals and have any brain left to go food shopping, cook dinner, fold laundry or be a wife, mother or social person. Am I too hard on myself? Am I expecting the impossible?
Maybe it’s just this week, despite the never-ending support from my husband, I am feeling a creative backbone void. I miss my old Writer’s On Fire workshops and friends, I will miss those YA writers I’ve been working with online who need to step back and take care of their projects. I miss the magic of consistent creative feedback from others who are struggling to complete their first novels. There I said it.
So the thought that a writer’s life gives you time to have a life is true and a bunch of crap at the same time. I think you have to be incredibly driven which takes a great deal of time, as does the writing itself. Being a writer for me can be heartbreaking and exhilarating and I wouldn’t change a thing, excpet of course my earnings.
I guess I have to go find new people to write with. There are worse things in the world. Maybe a new group is exactly what I need.