About Me

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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On becoming a full-time writer

Eileen asked me how and when I became a full-time writer - but that's not such an easy question to answer.

The easy answer is that I basically quit work last year at exactly this time. I still work as a paralegal one day a week - though I often, if they don't need me, don't work that day, so it probably averages out to three days a month.

My agent (who I'd signed with a few months earlier) sold two books (already written books) to NEXT and then just kept selling them. Once I'd sold two more books, I decided that it was time to quit work and concentrate on writing.

So I guess you could say that I became a full time writer one year ago - but that I probably quit work one year too early. I had contracts - I've sold nine books in the past 18 months - but even with those contracts, I'm often (especially in the past six months) scrambling at the end of the month to pay my rent.

Let's see if I can tell you why this happens and it might help you if you get to this point in your writing career (or any artistic career). Okay, so last September I cut my income by just over two-thirds and with the advances for my books, I probably got back up to 66% of what I used to make - probably just barely enough to live on. But this is my shot to make it as a writer so I've added some expenses that I didn't have before - travel to conferences, conference fees, promotional expenses. So I'm probably back down to 50% of what I used to make - and remember, I was only working part-time (three days a week) then anyway.

But I think I made the right decision even though it's been difficult. I've been writing for a very long time, and once I got the chance, I decided - despite the cost - that I would give it my best shot. I wouldn't have been able to write five books in the past year, my career wouldn't be as robust as it is, and I would eventually still have had to make the same decision and suffer through the transition from paralegal to writer - and I don't think that transition was ever going to be much easier than it was this time.

I've loved the past year - loved writing, loved going to Granville Island in the afternoon, loved going to conferences, meeting other writers, doing book signings and workshops. It's been a great year - so even though financially it has been (and continues to be) tough, I wouldn't give up a moment of it.

So thanks, Eileen, for asking me this question - it's made me think about what I've gained this year.


1 comment:

Eileen said...

Really interesting- thanks so much! It is always such a gamble. What to try and have in order, how much risk you feel comfortable taking, how many obligations you may/or may not have, confidence levels etc. I am trying to make my own decisions- although with only one book sold it is a bit easier! I have such huge admiration for you going for what you want. I can't imagine you would ever regret this decision. As someone else told me "there is always more work."