Saturday, December 2, 2017

Writers’ Commiseration

Scott D. Parker

Yesterday, I had an impromptu commiseration session with another writer who said a heartbreaking thing: sometimes, for us writers who have day jobs, we might have to realize that these day jobs are no longer the temporary placeholder until our books take off. It is the reality.

I’m now a month into my new job* at there is another fiction writing in my department. I only learned of fiction about three weeks ago, but we didn’t have a chance to chat until yesterday. We told our stories. Y’all know mine. Hers was on the traditional side. Two books published, one to good reviews, even winning some prestigious awards. She had some agents who did all the right things, landing her books in blog tours and getting some great feedback.

But the success we writers want and need didn’t arrive. She didn’t get the million-dollar checks nor even the constant money she needed to sustain her livelihood. Even with an MFA in creative writing, she found little success to further her fiction writing career.

Which led her to doing other things as her day job. Like me. Maybe like you, too. She lamented the day she realized her day job was the real thing and her writing was secondary. I nodded with her as we stood in the coffee bar, steaming mug of tea in my hand and a yogurt cup in hers. We walked to the stairs, still conversing about books and writing. When we finally parted, I had a spring in my step.

Why am I telling you this? Because we writers, especially those of us with day jobs, need little reminders that writing is an important part of our lives even when it isn’t the primary way we earn a living.

*I now have a 2-hour, round-trip commute. I have begun to assess what I can do, writing-wise, to use that downtime. To date, it’s been plowing through audiobooks, some bad (Dan Brown’s Origin) and some good (Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero). But this week, I’ve been testing the Dragon Anywhere app on the iPhone. I’m hopeful I can use that driving time—at least in the afternoon—to get some first drafts completed. I’ll report on that in the future.

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