I canít say that Iíve figured this one out yet, but as they say I have jumped into the deep end. I am currently in-between careers. Iíve quit my former day job, and I am working on being the proverbial professional writer.
I wish that meant that I could say that Iím making a living at writing, but I canít. Not yet. So Iíve got to have other work to let me pursue my new career. It may not have been the best timing, I was hoping the day job would last a few months longer, but these are the cards Iíve been dealt, and I can either play them or fold and hope that Iím dealt a better hand in the future. But there is no guarantee of this so Iím taking the bull by the horns and wrestling it down until I get where I want to go.
Just like they write differently, every writer has a different challenge to deal with in their particular situation. Everybodyís life is different, and there is no such thing as a normal life or normal family. The normal life and normal family are mere dreams. But real life always rears its unwanted ugly head and tries to derail our pursuit of the normal life.
As each writerís situation is different, each one is going to have a unique way to deal with it. Each writer has to figure out what to do. Is now the time to be a part-time or a full-time writer? The part-time writer will have more flexibility trying to find a way to make their dream work. Maintaining a full-time job plus trying to write Ė that's not easy. None of this will be easy, but the difference is that someone trying to write full time will have two full-time jobs going at the same time as they try to transition from the "day job" into their "dream job." And no matter which way you go, it will be difficult finding the time to write with the kids, spouse, dog, and cat all wanting a piece of you while youíre at home.
One thing you must try to do is find subjects you enjoy writing about or types of writing you enjoy. If you donít, youíll soon be frustrated because the mad amount of effort your putting into the writing isnít giving you any satisfaction. Now that does not mean you may not have to do some writing to which youíre indifferent, especially if your looking at it as a career. No matter what the career, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up unless youíre independently wealthy. Starting at the bottom may mean taking assignments that you have absolutely no passion about to pay the bills and build a writing resume to show prospective employers. By the way, if you are independently wealthy I have some screenplays I want to talk to you about. Theyíre not set in Florida on any swampland either. Although that could be a good set to use.
The long forms of writing such as novels, screenplays, and such will probably require you to either do articles or short stories to get through the short and intermediate time as these long forms may also take a long time to pay off. And that is on top of the part-time job, which may bore you to death or set you in the middle of a class of eighth graders as a substitute.
Although youíre living the starving artist's life, you canít have a starving artists sale and sell ugly paintings you have around the house; unless you have actually painted some, and then I apologize for calling them ugly. But while youíre living the starving artistís life, continue to be a people watcher. In just the short time that Iíve been working my first part-time job at a local community center on the disadvantaged side of town, Iíve realized that racism is alive and well in our small city.
In the past two weeks, the starting quarterback was harassed at his house by other kids yelling racial slogans. And a friend of mine was accosted by three young men who came out of a car brandishing a baseball bat and a lynching rope. Guess whose skin was of colour and whose wasnít. That whole story is something youíd think came from the middle of the last century, but it does have an interesting twist. When the young men pushed the fifty-five year old far enough by threatening his kids, he pulled an umbrella out of the car. The three then got back into their car and then called the police and reported that they had been threatened. Now some of the things the fifty-five-year-old said to the boys as he pointed the umbrella at them may have made the umbrella seem more menacing; but an umbrella?
No matter where you are, let life fill your subconscious with characters and give you stories to use. Today Iím substitute teaching, so I figure I'll have a lot of characters to deal with. In the end, it will be persistence and perspiration that get you to where you want to go. The best sellers only became the best because the writer kept at it as they drove down life's road and jumped over or swerved around the potholes that appeared out of nowhere.
Ken Robinson, IN's Write On! columnist, winner of Bare Bones Int'l Film Festival Best Screenplay Award, has written over 10 screenplays, 3 episodes of TV series West Law, is executive producer for the feature Sacred Bloods, board member of the Oklahoma Film Society, founding member of Oklahoma Movie Makers. His email address is: Krobinson104@hotmail.com