Friday, July 16, 2021

Writing: Time to Write

 I've been retired from medicine for almost two decades now, and I still hear it from time to time: "You must have time to write. You're retired." I've actually written about this several times, and if anyone is looking forward to having all that time for yourself after you retire, I can only say, "Forget it."

As  best I can tell, there are three types of writers. There are the people like Tom Clancy who make a living from their writing. They are full-time writers, and they make enough from it to lay down their "full-time jobs"--only to make writing their full-time job. And if you think that one day you'll be able to join their ranks, I have a bridge I want to sell you. I don't have the figures, but I suggest that you not bank on getting that big break. Although it is certainly possible that will happen, it's sort of like playing big-league baseball. The possibility is there, but the likelihood is small.

The other end of the spectrum is the writer who snatches time from their full-time job, whether it be outside the home or within it, to write. These are the people who basically work two jobs--one that pays their bills or keeps the home together, the other that they do because they have to do it. Have to? Yes, the reason most of us keep writing is because we absolutely can't not write. (Poor English, but accurate).

Some of us fall into the middle. We're what Larry Block calls, "Sunday writers." I fall into that category myself. I am not dependent on making a living by my writing, and I refuse to make a profession from this. Some of us write one, two, sometimes many more books that result in a few sales. Why do we do it? Because we can't not write. 

But hooray for all those of us who fall into the last two categories. Maybe we're the only people who read what we write. Then again, maybe it will affect our lives--and that's important enough.



Priscilla Bettis said...

Well said. I don't think an author has to make a living at it to be considered a success.

Richard Mabry said...

Priscilla, I was once told that the first time you add words to paper, you're a writer. Agreed--you don't have to sell to be one, and your success depends on many things, but not how much to make.

Patricia Bradley said...

I was a reader until I turned 35 and these people came to live in my head and wouldn't go away until I told their stories. I started out writing short stories, but then bigger stories came to me and I had to put them down.

Once the writing bug bit, I couldn't not write. Didn't matter that I wasn't getting published except in short stories--if I wasn't writing I was miserable. But I think that's what makes us persevere. :-)

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia--exactly. You had to write, whether anyone read it or not. Fortunately, others get to enjoy it.