Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy One Year Anniversary

I got a call today from a previous co-worker congratulating me on a year of writing full time, or as we in the industry like to call it, living hand-to-mouth. Wow, has it really been twelve months since I put my family’s finances in the hands of the American book-buying publics? Apparently so. In honor of that, I thought I would list the top ten things I have learned from a year of writing fulltime.

10) Nothing comes as easy as you think. And if it did you probably wouldn’t appreciate it. Many years ago, I read a Q&A with a fulltime author who hadn’t held a “real” job since he was in his early twenties. He stated that writing is just like any other job. What? Really? Are there a lot of other jobs out there with no commute, that let you set your own hours, that pay once every six months, with no guaranteed income, and that are up for renewal pretty much every year? Do those jobs allow you to decide what you will do that day and pay you for thinking up crazy ideas? If so, yeah, writing is just like every other 9-5 job.

Clearly this guy did not appreciate the struggle of working full time and then coming home to your “other” job. He either didn’t experience or had forgotten the pain of rejection and the fear of never making it. Yeah, I know it’s tough trying to break into the market. And it isn’t magically perfect once you get there. But it’s the pain of the journey that lets you appreciate the destination.

9) Full time writer is not an occupation for people without a lot of internal drive and willpower. When you only have an hour to write, you have to get to it. You don’t have time to waste. You dream of how much you could accomplish if writing was your only occupation. Then when it is, you suddenly find a million things to do other than write. If you don’t treat writing with the same dedication as a full time job, it won’t stay one for long.

8) For most fulltime writers, the actual writing is less than a third of what you do. The rest of the time is spent on all the marketing efforts that actually sell what you write. Yeah, I know most people know of a writer whose publisher takes care of all the marketing details, but those are the small minority. And even they spend a lot of time on blogs, tours, conferences, e-mail, and all that good stuff.

7) You need to make a lot more money than you think to make ends meet. That’s because you are paying everything your company used to pay: insurance, social security, office equipment. Plus every time you travel or eat on the road or make a phone call or print a post card or send a letter, that comes out of your pocket. Plan on needing to make 1 ½ times as much as you used to make.

6) Some of the things you least expect end up being the greatest experiences. Like:

Going to a school where a boy is painted blue and has white hair because he is a character from your book.

Meeting a real Land Elemental

Meeting a bunch of junior high students that are actually excited about reading and writing.

Getting invited to play a game with the student who made it, and . . .

Realizing it's the game of Trill Stones from your book!

5) It’s still cool as heck to wear the same jeans and t-shirt to work for three days just because you can.

4) You get to receive e-mails like this:
Dear J. Scott Savage, hello! This is Sarah, from xxxx Junior High School. I was your hero in your story when you were telling the audience how to write their own stories? Well, you had my best friend, a zombie, kill me! Ha Ha Ha just kidding. Anyway, I was just writing this email to tell you that I am very glad you cam e to our school. You came to my school last year, xxxxx Elementary. But I just wanted to tell you thank you for inspiring me. When you cam e to my school last year, you got me thinking, "I can write my own story and possibly become an author?" Wow, that was a huge surprise. I had no idea that a small town girl like me could do something that big. Since that time you told me that, I've written 1 book, it's called "Seventh Grade Secrets" and it's more of a realistic fiction book. I'm working on another book, it's a fantasy book. I am so happy that you were able to tell me that. I was talking to my homeroom teacher about you, and I had realized that you had been my inspiration all along. Thank you so much, for helping me gain courage in myself. I hope I can meet you again.

3) People ask all the time if your hand cramps up from doing long signings, but having done tons of “signings” where I signed no books at all, I will never ever complain about a signing that goes for three hours.

2) A lot of times you forget that the rest of the world is still going to work every day. You forget how lucky you are to get paid to do what you love, even if the pay is not as regular as you’d like. But every so often you have absolutely magical moment where you get up, have a glass of juice, head into the office and go, “Whoa my job today is to write something that will make people’s jaws drop. How cool is that?”

1) To quote somebody or the other, “There must be a better job than writing, but I’m having too much fun to spend time looking for it.”


Bluestocking said...

Congrats on making it a year

Angie said...

A whole year! Congratulations. Thanks for the thoughts and advice. I always tell myself that when my kids are all in school all day, then I'll have lots of time to write, but I think I need to just make it happen now. I am doing so much better on the writing output than ever before just because I put my mind to it.

Erin G. said...

Wow! On year. Congratulations! :D

Karlene said...

Congratulations! It sounds like a wonderful job. :)

Krista said...

Great post. It makes me excited to have a "first year"! Congratulations.

DesLily said...

in "reality" there are but a few who get to do what they love to make a living successfully... i am happy to know some of those people.. happy to know that "it can happen"...

congratulations Scott..and continued success !!

J.N. Future Author said...

oh yeah! we need more white haired children in the world!!! ^.^

Man, being an author is the coolest! I can't wait to be one! Then I can join the god-like ranks of the truly imaginative!

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Naat said...

Those pictures are beautiful!! I'm glad things are going well. Loved the book by the way! The melancholia tree made me laugh.

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