Last night I had a Skype chat with a wonderful lovely friend in the States. She’s someone I got to know through this blog, and we struck up a friendship over the years.
The conversation last night was difficult because she’s having a rough time of things. Recently broke up with her man, financial woes, and questions about career.
Since finishing Uni, she’s managed to eek out a living working jobs that either are good for her literary career (but not permanent) or are intellectually fulfilling (but not well paid). She’s also managed to maintain jobs that give her flexibility so she can take time to write. Also, in the last year and a half, she’s managed to secure an agent on a book of creative nonfiction and a novel, but she’s got a lot of work to do before the agent can start shopping around.
Here’s her canundrum. She’s at the end of her rope financially and emotionally. She’s exausted by the schedule she’s trying to keep, the pressures she’s under, and other personal struggles. She is beginning to consider getting that dreaded 9-5 job. One that will leave her with no time to write, but will pay her bills. One that will possibly suck from her any creative feelings she has, leaving her unmotivated to write, but that will remove the financial pressures from her life.
I worry for her. She is so close to her goal, I would hate to see her risk her literary future for the sake of a paid electricity bill. Then again, this goal of being a full time writer may not be worth her sanity. Maybe the stability of a 9-5 job would provide her with the emotional break she needs? She’s at her ends, and an ‘office job’ may be her mental health saviour.
She’s also not the only person going through this. I meet so many writers who are struggling. They don’t have the time, energy or money to pursue their passions. And, unfortunately, I don’t have any advice.
I used to think that I wanted to be a writer, but as soon as I got into publishing I realised that I didn’t. I simply don’t have the drive to do it. I don’t have the passion to sit every day and write. I don’t really care enough about that story in my head. In fact, I rarely have a story in my head other than the one that’s unfolding in realy life. I would be a shitty writer.
I am passionate about other people’s writing, and so I am happy being an agent. Not a writer.
So, what do I do about my wonderful, amazing, dedicated, loving, passionate friend? Nothing. I can be there for her via Skype. And, what she probably doesn’t realise is that she has a really large network of proper friends who will always be there for her. And, even though she may not know it at the moment, she’ll be fine. Whether she sticks it out with the ‘bits-and-bobs’ jobs until her books are picked up, or whether she takes a 9-5 position, she’ll be published in the future. I know she will. Her work is too strong. Her voice is too sharp. And her commitment to writing is bar none.
I guess that’s my advice to everyone else, too. Everyone who is thinking about throwing in the towel. True writers never properly give up. You may be writing in the background, but you’re still writing. You’ll get there in the end. It might just take a little longer than expected.