I've been looking for work for a while now and someone asked me recently what my dream job would be. Being in day job mode, I answered something like full-time and with full benefits--especially health insurance. Then my questioner asked me again, "Seriously, what does your dream job look like?"
When I answered her, I told her about my writing. My dream job is to write as a day job--with those full benefits, I mentioned.
But when you think about it, no one expects writing to be a day job. I'm published but no one expects me to actually make any money at this, let alone get health insurance. Writers frequently give their skills away, writing blogs for free, writing articles so that they can get publicity for their other writing projects, writing the church newsletter because somebody has to do it. Yeah, so why doesn't the church's secretary volunteer her services? Or the church handy man?
But writing is regarded differently. We want to be entertained, but we don't expect to pay much, if anything, for it.
Every so often, usually on listserves like National Writer's Union, or Author's Guild, I'll see some activist who will rail against all of those who give their writing away for free. If all of us would just grow backbones and demand what we're worth, the theory goes, the average income for every writer will go up.
I'm not so sure. Afterall, the world is not going to fall apart if all of us writers go on strike--with the possible exception of TV programs. The social networking site Twitter's coverage of the Iranian election proved that even news will still get around without the help of people who consider themselves writers. So while I'd like to believe that somehow my writing will earn my living--I have to be realistic. And no activism on my part will really change that. I'd like to get paid, but I need to write.
So does my neighbor and the guy who is on the board of adjustments and the guy who drives the Kroger delivery van. The bright spot there is that some of us are going to drop out. I've been writing long enough to know that.
Writing friends have quit writing to have babies, start a business, get married (yeah I didn't get that one either.) Some have died. Being stubborn (and healthy) counts for something in this business, I think. Really, other than the need for money what other weeding out process do you know in a business that lets you blog on anything and everything you want for free? All you have to do is be satisfied with...pretty much nothing.
I'm not going to quit.
I'm a writer. I have my dream job. You can't take this one away just because it doesn't pay the bills. But if you know of any bookkeeping jobs in the Denver area, let me know.
Christine Duncan is the author of the Kaye Berreano mystery series. Book two of the series, Safe House, is due out later this summer.