“How Do You Document Real Life
When Real Life’s Getting More
Like Fiction Each Day
Headlines – Bread-Lines
Blow My Mind
And Now This Deadline
“Eviction – Or Pay”
There are the first lines to the opening song of the musical Rent. A group of young artists struggle to pay their rent while sticking to their principles and staying true to their art, which, for them, means concentrating solely on their art and not doing anything else, like… working
Now, while I am not a fan of the musical, I can’t help feeling some sympathy towards those artists. I know the feeling of wanting, almost needing, to live off my art. Yes, I define myself as an artist. Unfortunately, though, life isn’t a musical (Maybe that’s a good thing, though, seeing as I can’t dance to save my life and won’t sing unless I’m ridiculously drunk, and then I’m the only one to enjoy it). I need to pay my rent, and for electricity, water, insurance, food, and the occasional thing for me and my significant other; at least until such a time as I can live off my writing. Yes, I’m a writer, and I have to work.
I have tried many jobs in my life, cooking, which was fun, factory work, which I was good at, selling frozen foods door to door (Bofrost, google it), which I thought was pointless, and selling books in a bookshop. Each job was fun, in its own way. Each job taught me something. But there was always that nagging in me that made me think “I could be writing right now!” and then begins the spiral that leads me to discontent and eventually, fantasies about becoming a professional writer.
Most of those who write professionally have published a whole bunch of books which became successful due to a combination of luck, quality, and good marketing. I just got one book out there with a relatively small publisher, so of course I don’t have the name recognition of J.K Rowling or Neil Gaiman. I also don’t have the time to write two novels a year, or the selling power to quickly convince publishers to publish my hypothetical two novels a year. No, I have to start small, I have to find the time, use the inspiration I find in whatever I can, and stay positive.
Another thing most writers have is a day-job. Either as journalists, lawyers, judges, educators, etc. Other writers, on the other hand, write full-time. They dedicate themselves to their work and succeed. I suppose it’s a matter of finding what is best for you. Whether you can (or need) to combine writing with other work, or just write because that is where your passion is, everyone is a bit different.
Now, what does any of this have to do with the little quote at the top? Simple. It demonstrate the universality of these feelings among beginning artists. In university, I was a member of two creative writing groups, just people who enjoyed writing; though, admittedly, we were also mostly students of the English department who specialize in literature, so some professional interest was there as well. Those groups both had talented young men and women, who, I believe, had really good pieces. But time went on, they took on professional and academic projects and the writing just faded, maybe not entirely, but it went back to first gear and probably found its way to their drawer rather than being submitted anywhere. Only I and one other person made serious attempts to publish, and so far, I’m the only one of the group to publish any non-academic piece. Beyond those feelings is a real struggle: Can I make it with my art? Or, to stay with the analogy: “how would I pay rent?”
I always believed in working for what you want. I never considered “free rides” or lending money, or any such thing; when I watched Rent for the first time my first reaction to the characters’ constant complaining was “Get a job!” But after seven jobs, having just been “let go” from the last, I can’t help but feel that I am like that too, I need to live off my art. I know that there are others out there like me, those struggling with their need to create and their much more urgent need to pay for food, shelter, and video-games, and that for the most part, it’s the creativity that suffers and gets pushed back to once every other weekend while the kids are watching cartoons.
And that is why I started this blog. To not only give myself an outlet for my writing and give myself a platform to rant about the difficulties of getting my second book published, no. It’s also to give others that little push to get them writing, creating, maybe even submitting. I am no great authority on publishing or writing, but I like the idea that maybe someone out there will read this and find the courage to write the next best-selling novel of our time.
I will be talking about my experience in trying to get my second book published, about how I managed to have my first book Where Have You Been published (don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a marketing platform for it), and about my writing habits. I will also try to include exercises in writing to maybe help you get inspired, and get writing. I would love there to be a dialogue between me and my readers, and maybe even receive some of the results you came up with from the various exercises.
So whether you’re really a struggling artist, a student with dreams of becoming the next Stephen King, or someone who would like to have more than just every other weekend while the kids are watching cartoons to create something, this blog is meant for you. We’re all just struggling to both express ourselves AND pay our rent, this is just my way.