There comes a point in every artist’s life where you’ve got to look at what is known as “The Backup Plan”. 1. Making a career in the arts is hard. 2. Another job might offer more stability.
It’s not something anyone likes talking about. But sometimes, you might have to consider giving up your dreams as it were. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t still write for fun or whatever. But trying to get published and be a professional writer is a very gruelling task whether you do it by traditional publishing or self-publishing.
It’s a lot of putting yourself out there. A lot of hearing the word no. A lot of crying while you eat ramen and wonder if you’re ever going to be able to pay back your Mom for all of the times she’s helped you out while being dead broke. The first time I ever sent a manuscript out, I was thirteen, and it was because a family friend of mine knew someone who worked in publishing and they thought it was a good idea to let them look at my first novel. There is a reason you don’t hear of wunderkind literary stars as often as pop stars or actors. No one wants to hear what a 13-year-old has to say for 200 pages. And with good reason. At thirteen, I lacked nuance, maturity, and there’s probably no way I could have handled being a writer if my career had taken off then.
Just dealing with reviews alone probably would have ripped me to shreds.
So while it’s still a gut to the stomach thinking about it—-I’m glad I didn’t make it then. Or when I was in my twenties. I’ve got files upon files of stories that were passed on. I spent most of my twenties trying to “make it”. Then, when I was 25, a few things happened.
I had major surgery. I was born with a heart condition called tetralogy of Fallot and they had to put what is called a melody valve in me. It made me reevaluate everything and it was also around this time that the garbage fire of 2016 happened and the four years after the fact. I reevaluated what I wanted and I think got caught up in the idea of “changing the world” the way a lot of people did at that point. I went back to school and actually got my associate’s in political science and then quickly realized I didn’t want to be the villain in a James Bond movie and I found myself stuck.
At the time, I was working at JC Penney. I was extremely depressed. I forced myself to find a job that paid better and got the job that I’ve been at for three years now. Customer Service over the phone. I am still there.
I am still unsatisfied with my workplace, financial position, blah, blah blah. Especially since March of 2020, I have been working at home by myself. The work is incredibly lonely and I’ve struggled a lot to maintain happiness. I am clinically depressed, and I try to make do without antidepressants because of addiction issues in my family.
Then kindle vella was announced and I thought HUZZAH! This is going to be like youtube for writers. I can monetize my passion. Everything is going to be fine.
The first month, as you know, there have been crickets. I know that things take time to grow but when you’re thirty, living in a one-room apartment, still daydreaming about “making it” you have to wonder: is it time to find a backup plan?
I don’t mean for all of these posts to sound like “poor writer girl, she can’t make it”. BUT like I said—-I’ve been doing this for a long time. The whole “trying to make it bit”.
There comes a time when you’ve got to decide between passion and profit and I feel like right now I’m at that point. Just because writing is my passion, do I have to make a profit at it? Maybe not. Maybe I can find a way to be happy doing it just as my hobby. I don’t know.
I was really fortunate that I grew up with a lot of teachers and friends in my corner who all believed I could do this. Be a professional writer. The trouble is, I’m not in my teens or my twenties anymore and its hard watching everyone move onto other things when I’m just “still at the restaurant” to quote Taylor Swift.
I guess this is why I’m writing this blog post. Maybe it will break whatever kind of cruel cycle I’ve been on in not achieving my goals.
I sat down over the weekend and thought about other things I liked as a kind and the type of job I wanted. When I was younger, I taught myself HTML for fun. I spent my weekends making bad tripod websites. The thing was, no one really knew what the internet was going to be at that point. And I already knew what I was going to do with my life.
It was more likely that I would make a career as a writer at that point than doing something with computers. The tables have turned now. So I am finding myself looking back at other things that I loved and seeing if I can make a career out of them.
I started taking classes for UX design. It’s app and website design. It’s a last-ditch effort to get into a field that pays better and will get me out of customer service.
I still have hope for kindle vella. I think it can be something great that democratizes the publishing process for writers. I hope that I am part of that process. I want to believe that a year from now, I will look back at this post and laugh that I wrote this.
I want to believe that I’ll get to “make it” as a writer. Whatever that means, I guess.
But, in case it doesn’t work out, I do have The Backup Plan.
2 thoughts on “The Backup Plan”
Oh yeah, I’ve stumbled from one career to another, but writing has always been a constant in my life. I’m sure you’ll find your break one day because you’re putting in the work. Here’s to us grinding in our craft. Wishing you all the best!
Thanks Stuart! I’ve had some luck but not quite to where I want it. Just got to keep on going I guess. 🙂