On writing for a living

11 Nov

Happy Veterans Day, everybody.

So, today I registered for classes. I’ve still got three semesters worth of classes to take, but I’ve somehow managed to accrue enough hours to almost be a senior at the end of this semester, despite being a transfer student. As such, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the future, and the title of one class I almost decided to sign up for really started this whole thought process I’ve been on: “The Novel.”

As a creative writing major, I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that after I get out of college, one of four things will happen.

Possibility 1: I become a teacher, probably at a smallish university such as our own.
Possibility 2: I get a job in an unrelated field.
Possibility 3: I write the next great American novel, don’t sell out, and win widespread acclaim or am at least able to survive on publishing contracts and book sales.
Possibility 4: I write what I want and I starve.

I have always known that Possibility 3 is an incredibly far-fetched notion. Making a living from writing is incredibly rare, and if I do manage to make a living from my writing, it will be even less likely for me to garner the kind of success only known by Stephen King, James Patterson, John Grisham, etc. But it was always a possibility. Until, that is, I really started thinking about the chance of becoming a successful writer.

I’d have to write a novel. I think I’d always realized this, because it would be nearly impossible to make a living from short stories and even less likely to make a living from poetry, but I really started thinking about it. I cannot fathom coming up with enough to say to fill an entire novel. I like short stories, and more specifically I like short short stories–1,000 words or less, generally. The likelihood of earning enough money to survive from a collection of short short stories is slim to none.

So this leaves me with the other three possibilities–though I’d prefer not to starve, so really only two possibilities. It seems like a waste to go through all this schooling to “learn” how to write and not do anything with that, so I guess I will become a teacher. I have never wanted to be a teacher, so I have been grappling with this for the last week. I don’t know what all this means.

I don’t really know what the point of this blog post was. This is really just what I’ve been thinking lately.

Maybe I should have stayed an engineer.

-Bryan

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One Response to “On writing for a living”

  1. thepeel November 15, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    D. Sedaris does okay doing short stories. Most of his ‘novels’ are really just collections of stories and essays he wrote and shoved together that kind of link to each other. You can survive and do well doing it that way, you just won’t be the NEXT GREAT AUTHOR

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