Friday, January 15, 2016

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Work is something we all must do. For the self-published, with a few notable exceptions, the income generated from writing, while nice, is not enough to write full-time and live on that alone. While it may be a dream to "quit your day job", it's not always feasible, or even preferable. I had a rent-free living situation that involved a lot of work (comes with the territory when you live and farm off grid) but allowed ample time to write and do other creative pursuits, but I wasn't all that happy. Much as I hate getting up on certain days, I actually like the structure and purpose of having a job. There are certain perks that come with having one. For instance, I look forward to my free time and enjoy it more, planning more activities and being more motivated instead of just goofing off (mind you, I do still factor in goof-off time). Having nice things and planning nice vacations is a plus, so is medical and dental coverage, 401k blah blah blah ad nauseum.

That being said, I have taken a hard look at the activities I enjoy, and I wonder where writing factors in. It doesn't seem to much, if at all. It used to be such a huge part of my life, and now it's backburner, almost seeming like an obligation. It feels like work.

I think I'm having this feeling because I've moved on mentally from my current project. At one point I had high hopes for my adult equestrian series. I loved my characters (still do) and premise, and I thought if I could continue on with it I'd make some very nice supplemental income and be happy forever.

But after a very successful debut, the follow-up was met with a "meh" response. All the research I did had indicated that my sales would increase as I added onto my series, but the numbers didn't do what they were supposed to (when do they ever?). I never got to see the huge spike in sales that occurred with my first one. Instead, sales trickled in, but the few-hundred-dollars-es a month felt like a letdown. My reviews were "meh", my sales were "meh", everything pointed to "meh". And this was a book that was much better written, better thought-out and more mature than its predecessor. It was a book that I had been inordinately proud of, and a book that was much more in line with how I saw myself as a writer, and how I saw my series playing out. But for whatever reason, it wasn't what people wanted to read. They wanted my old stuff, which is honestly not as good. Nor can I ever write like that again, because I've evolved (and again, improved) over time, like a writer is supposed to.

I think that's why I haven't finished the third (and maybe, possibly final) one. Seeing my hard work and evolving writing style not being rewarded, or welcomed, really, was heartbreaking. I don't like feeling powerless, and in this situation, I am. No one should be in it all for the success, but my time is valuable. I have other hobbies I enjoy that are simply hobbies for the sake of hobbies, but writing is so isolating, emotionally taxing and time-consuming that, for me at least, there needs to be some sort of reward. I don't care to write in a vacuum forever.

I think, once I finish this WIP (and I will do that much, at least) any writing I do will be with the goal of getting published. It's what I wanted from the start (it's what everyone wants) and I think it should be attainable within my lifetime. I won't be e-publishing anymore, and I won't be writing subgenres either. I'll be writing something marketable, or at least what I think that is (I've been wrong before).

I have a concept in mind, a fairly simple coming-of-age plot with a hook that hasn't been done before. The potential is there, I just have to make it happen. There will be no rush, and maybe one day, I'll retire off it.

They say "don't quit your day job", but you can always write about it.

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