Home » Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing » I’m going back to the day job.

I’m going back to the day job.

31 October 2013


From Robert Chazz Chute at VentureGalleries

Let’s get a myth out of the way immediately.

Some writers say it’s a rule that a day job keeps writers in touch with the real world and, to be good, writers need real world interactions to draw upon for their fiction. Maybe that’s true for them and their process. I had enough drama to draw from before I left home as a teenager. I deal in fiction. Imagination and Google are more useful to me than interactions with actual humans in Meat Space.

Meat Space humans are difficult for me to deal with. I see the world differently and they don’t all get my sense of humor. I’m a little weird and sometimes I have to make myself shut up so all the weirdness doesn’t escape at once and scare people away. In books, it’s easier. I’m supposed to be strange when I write. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you relate to that. When we go corporate, no one’s supposed to suspect our minds are active.

Even when I’m lying, I try to tell the truth.


I ran into a friend and former client who got the news I was returning to my old workplace. “Are you okay with that?” he asked.

The question was gentle and well-meaning. He knows that, for me, the last two years dedicated to writing have been the best two years of my life. When I’m at the keyboard, I’m home and having fun creating chaos. I’ve used those two years (mostly) wisely. Ah, but the question. “Are you okay with that?” Depending on my mood, it’s loaded with should haves and what ifs and worries about dealing with an unknown public.

If This Plague of Days wasn’t taking off, I’d have a huge problem with my return. It would feel like capitulation and a backwards step. I’d feel like a loser if not for the seeds of success very slowly budding. I’ve also published ten books in two years. My readership is growing. The timing would have been ideal if the growth I see now happened a year or so ago. But having a hit isn’t like that and hits don’t last, either. There are too many variables and they aren’t all under my control. To pay the bills, I have to do what I did two years ago. I’m risking starting another business.

I’m not quitting writing.


We do what we must. We move forward. We make what fun we can from whatever we do. That sense of entitlement with which I am sometimes afflicted? It doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t help any of us. I’m earning my readers, one at a time. Though it is deep and dark, we are finding each other in the forest. It’s going to be fine.

See the rest of the post here.

From Guest Blogger Randall

Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing

7 Comments to “I’m going back to the day job.”

  1. My first thought was: Good for him for coming up with a hit!

    My second thought was: I wish I could tolerate my day job like he says he does. I’ve tried to write in fits and starts here, but you never know when the you-know-what will hit the fan. Like it did this morning. ::sigh::

  2. I’ve recently spent a LOT of time thinking about this very same thing. I have a decent job that isn’t too hard on the brain, but I still wanted the time to write more (aka, “the Dream”).

    I tried to ramp up writing to the point where monthly royalties would sustain me, and am currently right in the “not enough to live, too much to die” type of not-quite-making-it success. That said, I make more writing for small presses than I ever made selling to one of the Big Five/Six, so the new industry paradigm works for me overall.

    The choice I faced was really “burnout” or “scaling down”. My partner was unwilling to “support my dream” (and bless his little cotton socks for that), and there are very real outgoings to cover. In my case: I have a mortgage, and I do want to make pension payments so I won’t have to rely on the community when I hit the carehome stage of my life. Also, is the writing income sustainable?

    I wasn’t going to quit my day job and be at the mercy of Jeff Bezos fiddling with the genre I work in (gay romance, mostly, which was hit hard by Amazon’s “AmazonFAIL” thing a few years ago, where they made it impossible to find our books in the catalogue).

    So I quit “the dream” and am writing like I used to. After wrapping my commitments (ie, finishing a series I started), I’m going to take 2014 and write non-selling historical novels, just for the hell of it, while taking steps to get out of my current industry and switching over into another.

    I think I sedated my unhappiness in my real life career with the “dream” of writing full time, and I’m actually mildly hopeful that changing that career is the better “fix”. Also, the day job enables me to write novels that won’t sell thousand, but maybe just a few hundreds of copies, that are very heavy on the research, and that simply take a lot longer to write, without feeling the terrible pressure of writing to market and having to triage my projects into “will sell”, “might sell”, and “won’t sell”. Usually, the weird books are the most fun ones, but they simply don’t sell.

    I’m still uplifted every time I see a writer successful enough to quit the day job. Maybe one day it’ll be me, but I’ve now made my peace.

  3. I wanted a fresh start so I quit my job and moved across the country thinking my dream of writing full-time would be finally realized. I have been unemployed for three months and I can’t find a job in my field. I have to pay my bills and right now I can’t. I remember I wrote some of my best stuff while I was working 80 hours a week (very stressful) and while I don’t plan on doing that again, I hope to find something soon. Meanwhile, I keep writing and hoping that someday I’ll be able to “live the dream” too.

  4. margaret rainforth

    Best of luck and fun to you with the new day job! Today I saw a couple of huge, black, wild boars rooting around in the grass two feet from US 1. I wouldn’t have seen that sitting at my computer. That could be part of a story someday!

  5. My day job is Mom and it’s a 24/7 job. But it makes me happy.

  6. I’m a stay at home Mom so I don’t have a day job to quit or go back to. We live on one income and it’s not easy. I live in Canada in the country.
    I have not started to publish yet but am getting close. I have made the decision to write what I want and put it out there. I write straight and gay(M&M)erotic romances. How well I will do is a total unknown. I like the dark side and I don’t think too many readers are into that. I also like erotic historical romances and have started a series.
    After reading those comments from the STOP Publishing article, it all becomes noise and I need to shut it all out and do my own thing wherever that takes me.
    Authors have to do their own thing and do what is right for them.

  7. Back in the days of trad publishing only, I promised myself that I would always view writing income as extra money and never get dependent on it, so I could walk away from a bad contract or bad edit, should it ever become necessary.

    Now that I’ve gone indie, I still treat my writing income as an extra income stream, which gives me the freedom to write in niche genres and stay my own course with regard to the stories I write, the way my covers look, the way I market, etc…

    However, I am lucky that I have a day job (or rather two, freelance translator and university lecturer) that give me enough flexibility to write and that make it easy to scale back, should the writing income ever become more than an extra stream.

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