Monday, March 28, 2011

Incongruent Paths

In life sometimes we have to make choices, and some choices work to the exclusion of others. I think as writers, we feel this acutely. Margaret Atwood did a presentation recently that hysterically pointed out our options as writers. We can:

-Have a day job and write when we can find time.
-Inherit a lot of money (this was the one she recommended).
-Marry someone who will work and let us write.
-Move to a country with fabulous government assistance.
-Seek a grant for support.
-Manage to sell enough of your work to make a living.

Sadly, that last... is less than 10% of writers, and the one before it tends to be MFAs who've won some sort of award. And the 3rd from the end... I think leaves Scotland... though I may be misatttibuting (Mark, don't they pay you to not work?)... Work full time, inherit, or marry...


Add family.

And suddenly you have a full time job in addition to your other stuff and the writing...

So those of us who didn't MANAGE to inherit... who didn't marry money (or at least a good job) and then decide to have a family... THIS would be an inconguent path... Working full time, writing full time and family full time is more than a person can manage. Something has to give.

Now in my OWN life... I tried my first hand at a novel when I was 26, before the family. But then career took over and kids came, and it was more than 10 years before I got back to it.

That is to say... not taking a path doesn't mean you can't find it again... it just can take more patience and... perhaps a delusional sense of dreamery... to come back when it might work again...


Up the Ante

Imagine, then, how much harder it would be if your passion wasn't writing, but MUSIC (any performance art, really)--I mean sure, you could sneak the time to practice and write songs, but that part where writers are sending out stuff for feedback... you would need to be OUT THERE, performing... and there are only so many daytime gigs, and only so many options in your home town... this is a nighttime, traveling profession to pursue...

Now I don't have experience as a performer, but I have worked in the restaurant industry. My daughter was born when I was doing that, and night work and kids are NOT compatible. The hours are only the half of it. There is also a lot of drinking and a fair amount of drug use—and if it happens in restaurants, you KNOW how much more that is part of music.


My Point?

Our blogging friend Jessica  has just created a book trailer for her book that hits on exactly these themes (the book AND the trailer)... the decision to mother, when what one really feels passionate about is a career in music... the trailer is a song performed (beautifully) by Jessica, the original song written by her mother, and the lyrics changed some to fit the book. It is a haunting, beautifully performed song. Give it a listen then go get more details from Jessica's blog..




*******

And on an unrelated note, if anyone is interested in reading my full excerpt from the ABNA contest, they are posted. Kahlotus Disposal Site  I would LOVE reviews that help me improve the work. At this level, I understand these don't do anything that helps us advance in the contest, so don't feel pressured, but if you have time... (the helpful part doesn't come until final round, and at THAT point, I'd prefer glowing reviews *shifty*)

30 comments:

ViolaNut said...

Hmmm... dude, my day job IS music. Night job, actually; day job is bookstore. Writing comes... erm... sometimes. Eurgh. Who's the god(dess) in charge of MegaMillions? :-P

Trisha said...

I play and write music, but not where anyone can see ;) I could never be a rock star, so right now I'm living vicariously through my rock star characters :D

Crystal Pistol said...

Why does acheiving one's dream often seem so far away? Would that there were more hours in everyday and enough creative energy to fill them!

Jessica Bell said...

Wow. I love the way you tied all that together! :o) Thanks, Hart! I really appreciate it!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Wonderful trailer!

I only know one couple who makes a living (a small one) off their writing full-time. They have over 60 books out (genre books) with several publishers and get enough from royalties and advances to make it. So I'm thinking I have a long way to go!

Hart Johnson said...

Leanne-yeah, I can always expect backward from you! And definitely need a little Megamillions goddess love!

Trisha-I wish I had any talent at all, but yeah, I'm stuck with characters with talent--at least you have the option!

Crystal-it can seem such a long road, can't it? Just keep moving along it though... no way to get there if we stop.

Jessica-yeah... I actually think about this quite a bit (me and my jealousy of people who don't have to be the wage earner) so this seemed to fit really well.

Elizabeth, isn't it great!? And I think it is ALMOST lottery to support ourselves at it. It is craft and good writing, but also a dozen things we have no control over, like hitting the market at EXACTLY the right time (and I think it's harder with genre stuff to hit those BIG changes. They always sell, so it is easier to get in, but never for much, where with a mainstream, it is more money if you make it, but far fewer do)

Jan Morrison said...

Oh yes. I always talk about Margaret Atwood when I mention that you can't make a living as a writer. I say 'unless you're Margaret Atwood and even then she makes lots of her $ BEING Margaret Atwood - not neccesarily from her books.' I love her though.
Wonderful post and yes - the whole thing - family, livlihood, art, discipline - it is happening at once. Some things might make it easier but only at the expence of other things. Should I find a rich husband I don't think I'd be allowed to keep my darling Ron and that would be awful. Better to struggle and decide 'I chose this life!'

Old Kitty said...

I'd love to be married to someone able to support (financially) my flighty dreams! LOL! Oh but life says so otherwise!

I clicked on your exerpt but peoples in the UK are unable to read your exerpt! It doesn't say about NAKED peoples from the UK though!!

Take care
x

jennymilch said...

This post couldn't have come at a better time, Hart. Going to watch Jessica's trailer now. Thanks. I'll be happy to read the excerpt next, too!! But seems like you're already doing GREAT.

Katie Mills said...

what a great set up- her book deals with an issue that a lot of people don't take into consideration. My parents were professional musicians on top of their day jobs. They were out gigging every weekend and were offered a tour with the Steve Miller band that they turned down because they had to take us kids into consideration. It's not an easy life but they lived their passion for many years!

Hannah Kincade said...

Yeah, I live alone and have no kids and I'm crazy busy! I can't imagine adding a whole family on top of that. It's a good thing we have the love and support of the blogging community!

Deb said...

I find that I just don't want to beat myself up anymore for not having enough hours in the day. I'm just trying to make the best of the hours that I have. Loved this blog. Made me think. Loved the video too.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

First part of the video is cool. And it all about choices. I have a friend who's a performing musician at night. He's single - still.

Hart Johnson said...

Jan--yeah, I can't seem to give up love for money either... and the sugar daddies always seem to have such issues with me keeping a little somethin somethin on the side...

Jenny-I REALLY hope they sort the excerpts so they are available outside the US!!!

Jenny-at a fork in the road, I take it? Thanks so much!

katie-so interesting that your parents were musicians--I bet that was a little wild when you were younger. (Steve Miller Band was my first concert!)

Hannah-I could definitely fill up my time even without the family...

Deb-you are one of those success at it all women! Acting would be as hard or harder, and your hubby is in it, too! You amaze me!

Alex--yeah, hard life to commit from! I think it is even harder to be GOOD once you try--lots of offers and all that!

Cold As Heaven said...

To inherit is a good idea, I think. Unfortunately I haven't been able to realize it myself. It seams like my older son has a similar financial model in mind for his skiing career, but I doubt he will succeed with it neither >:D

Cold As Heaven

Colene Murphy said...

Very cool trailer, indeed. Jessica did an awesome job.

And I'm still holding out for the lottery, seems the only one I'm going to get! Damn marrying for love not money...

Cheeseboy said...

Luckily I get to TEACH writing every day for my job - - which is ultimately my favorite part of the day.

When I had a choice to mother or write, I didn't pick mothering, but fathering. In that way, I thought outside of the box.

Ciara said...

Balancing writing and life is always a challenge. Family is a huge blessing and distraction all at the same time. :)

Helen Ginger said...

Good video. I love her voice. String Bridge will most likely resonate with a lot of women!

Hart Johnson said...

CaH-teehee--Wish your son luck finding a sugar mama to fund his ski career... And where does one FIND an aged wealthy uncle, anyway?

Colene-I'd LOVE the lottery, but that would require buying a ticket, I think...

Abe-well done on that out of the box thing... I actually pulled somethings similar, in that hubby has been primary parent. The difficulty is it means I have to work all day...

Ciara-Balance? Could you use that word in a sentence? I'm not sure I'm familiar with it.

Helen-I think so too, and I LOVE her voice... the cry behind it is so fitting.

hsoister said...

It doesn't help us writers that these days we have to work longer hours at our day jobs just to stay financially afloat. But we're so crazy we write anyway.

I'm planning on reading (and enjoying) your excerpt tonight.

Laura said...

Hi Hart - what a beautiful book trailer, don't you think? Interesting post - I don't even have kids (and am never likely to) but still find paths steering me away from my loves... I can't imagine what mother / fatherhood can do! I'm in awe of anyone who has the art of balancing it all (and jealous of those with money not to have to)
Lx

Abby Minard said...

So true, Hart. Sometimes I just want to give up writing because I have a family, a job, a house etc, and I feel like I don't have enough time to do any of that! Although I was able to cut down on my blogging, to help me finish my ms, and not completely ignore my 5 year old ;p But I guess if writing is our passion, it will get done if we really want it. There are so many days I wish I was a stay-at-home mom who could use naptimes and school hours to write. Not all of us can be Stephanie Meyer ;p Great post, and so sweet for linking Jessica's trailer!

Deb and Barbara said...

Wow, I love Jessica's video. Very compelling. As is the story idea. Hart, I swear I'll read your excerpt the moment I have a moment!
B

Hart Johnson said...

Helena-yeah, the sucky economy and higher prices don't help AT ALL! I'd love it if a 2/3 time job paid the bills--it would be perfect, really (makes me look wistfully at my waitressing years, honestly, though I know I make more hourly than that, now... but it took a long time to pass the $25 an hour with tips.

Laura-it really is fabulous! Jessica's talent amazes me. and yeah... some of us just waited until the parenting could take a little neglect *shifty*

Abby-I can't imagine how you do it with little ones! Mine are 12 and nearly 16--I filled in former 'reading' time with writing time...

Barbara-I fear you may not be able too! Amazon's bias for the US is showing and people in other places are having trouble. Grrrrr! (I hear after enough complaints last year they fixed it)

erica and christy said...

Okay, so it might be a little late for me to be adopted by rich benefactors, but for all you rich benefactors out there - I have really cute, smart kids. You want them for your grandkids, for whatever short time you have left on this world. Just sign right here: _______________. :)

I watched Jessica's trailer a few times before I knew it was her song and voice. What an amazing talent. I'm glad to have met people such as her (and you, of course).

And ABNA hates me so much, they sent some sort of bug into my laptop and now it's broken(okay, that probaby wasn't the reason, but still). My son's computer is old and will probably die if I try to download the Kindle app, so I'm praying for a speedy lappy recovery!!!
erica

The Words Crafter said...

It really is hard to balance all of these jobs. Kudos to the ones who manage to do it to some degree without sacrificing the crucial elements of their lives: the other people in it. Great post...

I went back and read your astrology post. Interesting. I didn't know Scorpio was a feminine sign! And yes, I crave security. Cool :)

Holly Ruggiero said...

I LOVE that trailer. It is so beautiful and haunting too.

erica and christy said...

Congrats on ABNA. I can't wait to read the excerpt! I'm glad I found writing and that I'm finding time to do it in! christy

kimberlyloomis said...

I so hear the time constraints that us humans live with. Choices always must be made and, honestly, it's wonderful when things work out such that you return to the pursuit of that which you love. [At this point I am learning to like the TV again so I can write a little bit during the day. Don't judge me. ;-) ]