Saturday, May 26, 2012

Burning the boats...

As I sat in the classes of DFW Con, an unofficial theme emerged: You must treat writing like it is your job.  You must commit to putting your butt in the chair every day, getting the words down.  None of this writing when you feel like it, or when you have a shiny new idea--no, if you want to get paid for your writing, you must take it and yourself seriously.  In one of Candace Havens's classes, she said there are only two acceptable excuses for going a day without writing: death (yours, not someone else's) and coma (but even if you're in a coma, you should still be thinking about writing).

One of the things that Jodi Thomas said has stuck with me--she mentioned that at some point, you're going to have to burn your boats.  You're going to have to commit to making writing your career, with no chance of going back.  She related the story of a young man who had just sold his first book and asked her what he should do to make sure it was a success.  Her advice?  Sell your car.  Use the money to buy as many copies of your book as possible, so the publisher will see how well it's selling and offer you a contract for a second book.  Burn your boats.

Burning of the USS Philadelphia,
Edward Moran
I've been thinking about doing this for the past several months.  I really dislike my job, and I hate how much it takes away from my writing.  I've been contemplating quitting and taking a part-time job somewhere to pay the bills while I focus more of my time and energy on writing and getting published.  The trouble is, I've worked very hard to get to this position, and if I leave my field, there's no going back.

The funny thing is, Jodi Thomas isn't the first person to give this advice.  I recently took an online course about how you can quit your day job to write, and the instructor said how much your life will change when you're doing what you love.  You probably won't have a lot of money, but if you like what you're doing, you won't notice it.  Many of the other authors and agents at DFW Con said similar things, so I feel like maybe the universe is trying to tell me something <g>.

I don't know if I'm ready to take the leap just yet, but I'm standing on the cliff edge looking down, matches in hand (and how's that for a mixed metaphor?).

What about you?

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