It would be so great if we all could stop assuming that all writers WANT to write full time. - Ekaterina Sedia via Twitter
I was fascinated by this tweet yesterday: a writer categorically stating that she didn’t want to do the job full-time.
In fact, I wonder if that’s what it is? The very fact that if it’s full-time, it must be a job. I’m assuming a lot from this tweet, because I’m assuming that Ekaterina (read "The Alchemy of Stone", it’s brilliant!) loves to write. She does it extremely well. Perhaps it really is vocational for her, perhaps she doesn’t want to tie the craft to any financial requirements she might have for her life, perhaps her output is relatively small. Or, perhaps she has a wonderfully fulfilling job that she would never want to give up. In which case, she’s extremely lucky to have two occupations that she loves.
There is, of course, the other to consider.
Writing is hard work, and sometimes it’s demoralising. I do know writers who can sit at a keyboard all day, every day, and write. They can write through the drivel to get to the good stuff when the spirit doesn’t move, and they can be practical and workmanlike about it. Of course, there are also writers, like the husband, who simply write every day because that’s what they do. I think he’d quickly go crazy if he couldn’t. I don’t believe I’ve known him ever to take more than a day or two away from the work, and when he does take that day or two, his ideas notebook still never leaves his side.
On the other hand, I know writers who find the whole process excruciating. They have something in them that requires them to write, but they struggle with sitting at the keyboard and agonise over every word. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, and I hope it isn't true of this case.
Right now, I have the best of all worlds. Writing isn't agony, although it can be exhausting. I do not write every day, I’m not that sort of writer, but when I need to write or want to write, I can write as much as I want for as many hours in a row as I want without letting anyone else down, including an employer.
In the end, we are all different, and lots of writers, especially in genre fiction, need to do a day job to make ends meet. I wonder if they love the work more than I do? I wonder if having an amazing hobby and keeping it free of connections to real life might not be the ideal way to go about being a writer.
I wonder whether Ekaterina Sedia doesn’t have a very valid point.