julian_griffith (julian_griffith) wrote,

Late to the party, or, That "Are You A Professional Writer?" nonsense

So, the idea that THIS is the ONLY WAY to be a professional writer has been pretty thoroughly debunked. Scalzi said it best: "Did you write something? Did you get paid for it? Congratulations, you're a professional writer!"

Nevertheless, I wanted to take a whack at these questions anyway, just to show you all my life.

1. Is your home/work place messy because that time you’d put into cleaning it is better spent writing?
My home is messy because I'm a messy person. Blame it on the ADHD-inattentive that took 40 years to diagnose. If I weren't writing, I'd be knitting, or surfing tumblr, or reading, or baking Victoria sandwich cake, or making a vampire hunting kit in a vintage train case, or, well, ANYTHING but cleaning. 

This is not necessarily a good thing. Actually, it is DEFINITELY not a good thing. It's easier to write in a clean, organized environment. I'm just rubbish at creating one. Out of my own stuff, anyway. I'm a demon at cleaning and organizing other people's places! SERIOUSLY. WE JUST ALL NEED TO FORM A CIRCLE AND MOVE ONE PLACE TO THE RIGHT TO GET A CLEAN CUP.

2. Do you routinely turn down evenings out with friends because you need to be home writing instead?

I have spent around 20 years living two hours away from my core friend group. I am working toward changing this. It's closer than it's been in a long time. Next question.
3. Do you turn off the television in order to write?

I don't spend that much time with the television anyway? On average I care about one show per season. If my housemate is watching something I don't care about, I put on my big over-the-ear headphones and tune Pandora to "Corelli". Works a treat.
4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise?

Why is this an either-or question? Useful criticism is great! That's what I have [personal profile] mswyrr for - she knows how to spot the places that need fixing. But I have the standard-issue Fragile Writer Ego - I also need a lot of praise. Luckily, I have a solid group of friends who genuinely seem to like my stuff.
5. Do you plan vacations around writing opportunities (either research or networking potential)?

Part of me wants to say "what vacations?" because I'm broke, and have been for decades. However, to engage with the spirit of the question: I write historical romance. I write it because history fascinates me, and has for most of my life. When my parents planned our amazing trip to the UK when I was 16, do you know how we planned it? Around BOOKS WE HAD READ and HISTORICAL THINGS WE WANTED TO SEE. Because these were the things we loved. We saw Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street and Jack the Ripper's Whitechapel. We saw James Herriot's Yorkshire. We saw Stonehenge and Avebury and Lindisfarne and the Lake District and SO MANY THINGS because we'd read about them, and we WANTED TO SEE THEM.

Why on earth would I do things differently NOW?

So I go to Mystic Seaport and to the USS Constitution and to Plimoth Plantation and to stare at genre paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and tapestries in the Cloisters and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has the most amazing dressing cases with silver fittings and...

I do this stuff because I love it. If I wanted to go spend a week at the beach, I could, because my parents have a summer cottage, but I get bored. Bring on the history!

Or amusement parks. Because roller coasters. I also have a deep, geek-level love of roller coasters. Like, rattling off the names of the different sorts of loops, the manufacturers, and the design engineers. That level of nerd-love.

Not everything is about the writing.
6. Would you rather be chatting about the business of writing with another writer than exchanging small talk with a good friend?

Um. Not really? Sometimes they're the same thing because a lot of my friends are also writers, and as a brand-new pro I am eager for advice and reassurance, but I'm also just as happy to be chatting about their dog, or Pacific Rim, or cosplay ideas, or how [personal profile] gehayi 's sun porch would look fantastic if we just spray-painted the metal furniture white and got some new cushions for it.
7. Have you ever taken a day job that paid less money because it would give you more time/energy/material to write?

Ask me this question when I've been offered that hypothetical day job that pays more money, okay?
8. Are you willing to give up the nice home you know you could have if you devoted that time you spend writing to a more lucrative career?

Once again, we're in Does Not Apply territory. At one point I owned a 6-bedroom Victorian house. I wasn't trying to earn a living as a writer. I couldn't afford it THEN, not before my divorce, not after. I miss the tiled fireplace and the carved newel post and the giant claw foot tub and all the other architectural details. I do NOT miss trying to HEAT that monster, or knowing that I couldn't afford any of the structural maintenance.

Also, I was rubbish at cleaning it. See question 1.

I'm currently working out a house-sharing plan that will lower expenses for everyone involved, so there's a better possibility that we can all have a nice home AND not have to worry so much about lucrative careers. Because, sadly, I don't think I'm up to the demands of a lucrative day job. Years of under-treated mental health issues have taken a toll. I'm hoping I can get the medical billing and coding certification and get part-time, from-home work that will pay me enough to cover my minimized expenses in a nice home shared with friends.

This wouldn't be possible if a friend didn't already HAVE a home with sufficient space in it. Expense-sharing will help, and "nice" is an ongoing project that involves at least as much labor as money, and labor I've got. It's amazing what proper deployment of existing bookshelves will do.

But yeah. "Nice home" in the traditional nuclear-family, solid-salary, home-improvement-loan way is just never going to be on the table for me. That possibility went out the window years ago, though I didn't know it at the time. So I have to be resourceful and creative. Whether I write or not.
9. Have you done all these things for at least five years?

Really? There's a minimum time served clause or something? This isn't even worthy of engaging with.
10. Are you willing to live knowing that you will likely never meet your ambitions, but you hold to those ambitions nonetheless?

...I think this is called the human condition. And I'm DONE.
This entry was originally posted at http://julian-griffith.dreamwidth.org/37115.html and has comment count unavailable comments. Comment wherever you like.

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