I know a lot of authors who consider writing their “jobs.” I have nothing against this mindset. If it gets you to sit in your chair and put your hands on the keyboard on a regular basis, if it gets you to finish your manuscripts, if it gets you to take writing seriously, I’m all in favor of it. And for some writers, writing really is their job–after all, it’s their primary source of income.
In the past few months, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that writing is not my job and most likely never will be. A few years ago, I’ll admit that I dreamed of selling for good money and being able to quit my day job to write full-time. When I sold Behind the Red Door to Kensington, far earlier in my “career” than I ever anticipated selling anything to a New York publisher, I thought maybe I was on my way to achieving that goal. Now, not quite two years later, the possibility seems more remote than ever.
But my reason for concluding writing isn’t my job isn’t really because I haven’t made a lot of money from it. It’s also because, quite honestly, I don’t want to see writing as a job.
Here’s the thing about jobs. A job is something you do to earn money, to make a living. A job is something you’re obligated to do in exchange for a paycheck. And even if you love your job (and I do love mine), you probably wouldn’t do it if no one were willing to pay you a reasonable wage for it. I know if my employer suddenly told me they wanted me to earn my wages the way the publishing industry does–if they decide they like my work enough to buy it–I would quit. As great and rewarding as my job is, I wouldn’t keep doing it without a guarantee of remuneration.
And it’s for this very reason that writing is not a job for me. Sure, I can (and sometimes do) earn money from my writing, but remuneration isn’t the reason I write. I write because I’m driven to. Because I have to. Because if I don’t, I’m miserable.
On other words, writing isn’t a job for me. It’s an avocation. And no matter how “successful” I do or don’t become as a writer, I want it to stay that way.