I was asked, "Why be a writer?"
Of course my first answer is, "For the money!"
Why are you laughing? Oh, you've figured it out, there is no money; in the beginning anyway.
So why do so many of us stubbornly continue to write? For some it is the monetary pursuit and/or fame. Good luck to you on that. And I'm serious when I say that. I didn't start out that way, but Iím there now.
For others and most of us looking for the "pot o' gold" at the end of the rainbow, the writing process itself is all encompassing and allows the writer to immerse himself in a world with characters and story lines Ė away from the humdrum, boring, monotonous world most of us live in.
When I write, the real world fades away into background. In the world I create, I'm usually involved at the least as an onlooker, if not as the character itself. Now if something bad is happening to a character I like, I distance myself from it somewhat, but I don't back down from writing it. Nobody wants to see someone they like get hurt or have something bad happen to them, but conflict is necessary to an interesting story.
One thing I find amazing is how time differs when I go from the real world to my imaginary one. While I'm away in my world, time speeds up in the real world leaving me with never have enough time to spend in my world.
I believe writers have a natural talent. But with all things in life there are choices to be made. Are you going to practice enough to go from being good to very good and then excellent? Another choice is; are you going to be a full-time or a part-time writer. If you are going to be full-time, you are going to have to keep working the day job until you can write your ship in. And when it does dock, it maybe smaller than the one youíre currently in. At some point, if you want to be a full-time writer, you're going to have to jump ship into the new one, and see if you can keep it afloat. It may be only a dingy, but if you keep paddling you will be able to trade up to that tug boat and then eventually you'll be enjoying life on your yacht.
Although nothing is a given, if youíve worked hard at your craft and begin to get your work in the hands of people that can make it happen, you have as good a chance as anyone else out there. And anyone that even thinks there is even a chance that they'll look back and regret not giving it a shot, should go for it.
So why give up the sure money for this shot at a dream? For one thing you can make all the money in the world at your day job, but if you haven't taken a chance on your dream, your life here will have been very poor. Life is short, live.
Now, if you aren't driven to write; or when you do write this world doesn't slip into oblivion as you first feel ecstasy, then angst, and then relief, as you travel with your character friends on adventure after adventure; then maybe you shouldn't give it all up to write. But if it's a part of you that won't go away, you should make yourself some goals and then put a plan together to get to those goals. They may be short term or years in the future, but to get to your goals you've got to have a plan.
This is as good a place for an update on my writing goals and plans as any. By the way, I apologize for going a little schizo on the last column. It comes from being on the go 19 hours a day trying to pay bills as I work toward my goals on my plan. But things on that front are hopefully changing.
I did a superb job of filling the cup in the bathroom for my future employer, so I'm sure that will get me the job. Didn't spill a drop. Hopefully they got a video of it. It was magnificent, filled it write to the line. What? Oh, the job. It's a warehouse job on the weekends and Iíll have my work week in by Monday afternoon. That'll give me the rest of the week to write or make extra money, which I will need. Oh yeah, since I last wrote my son had a pacemaker put in. We figured out the cost to be around $1,000 a minute for the operation. He was in there 45 minutes Ė you can do the math Ė although he was home within an hour after the operation.
Iím also on the verge of getting a job dealing at a new local casino. One of the new dealers said he got $1,300 in tips one night. I tried to keep my tongue off the floor. The real pay averages around $18-20 dollars an hour in the evenings. Originally I wanted to do the dealing to meet interesting characters to use in my writing. Iím thinking about working both to catch up on some bills and see which job works out best.
On the writing itself I did have a tease. A guy I wrote a low budget horror script for said he wanted to try to shoot it at the end of this year, and pay me to boot. And then he said he could get some money for a story set in Costa Rica and asked if I was interested. I don't know if it's possible to drool over the Internet but as I haven't heard a word from him since I replied, I'm guessing so.
Anyway, I'll continue to Write On! as should you.
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