Should you write part-time or should you leave your day job so that you can concentrate on writing full-time? That is the question. For most people, money is a serious consideration. Fact: The average full-time writer earns very little. So keeping your day job is a no-brainer. However, you can always go into a field that requires writing skills like journalism, technical writing, business writing or advertising.
I’m officially retired. One of the benefits of retirement is that I can now indulge myself. I have time to write professionally which I was denied when I was working full-time as an English teacher and later on as an academic librarian and then an educational media specialist.
It was my husband who actually convinced me to take an early retirement so that I could start writing full-time and also spend more time with him, since he was already retired. It took me several years to decide. It was hard leaving a tenured relatively well-paying position, but I have no regrets.
Still, writing has hardly proven to be lucrative. My very first acceptance as a “paid” novelist occurred when I initially took time off from my teaching job to be a full-time mother. The contract offer came from a publisher in
. I was so thrilled I actually burst into tears of
joy. New York City
My husband was even more thrilled than I was if that’s possible. He went out and told the neighbors. Then he phoned our friends and relatives.
I had stopped working as an English teacher and was spending my time as a full-time house frau, mother of two toddlers, and part-time writer. My dream had always been to write a great novel that would be a spectacular bestseller. I started writing way back in elementary school when I won several essay contests. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to become a writer. And I thought this was the start of making that dream become a reality.
I was delighted to learn that the novel was printed in paperback. Unfortunately, my "advance" of $500 as promised in the contract was never paid. Worse still, I soon discovered that the publisher had gone into bankruptcy.
My husband felt just as badly as I did. We visited the publisher's office in
. The editor-in-chief met with us. Manhattan
“We’re officially out of business,” the editor explained much to my disappointment. “We have a lawsuit against the distributor, and although the books were printed, they won’t be distributed. I can offer you 50 copies of your novel though.”
My husband and I didn’t know what to say. While we waited, the editor went and got a copy of my novel and then showed us the book. It had an attractive, tasteful cover.
“I love the artwork,” I said.
“How about if I send you the original painting and include that as payment as well?”
I readily agreed. “I’d like to frame it and hang the cover art in my house.”
I did receive the copies of the novel, but not the painting of the cover as promised. By then, the publisher was gone. No point trying to contact the company again. The experience turned out to be a disappointing one overall. But I never lost my enthusiasm for communicating the written word, never gave up on writing, or trying to get my work published. There is great satisfaction in seeing one's words and ideas in print. It's a unique and special experience.
Over the years, I've enjoyed experimenting with many forms of written communications: essays, articles, novels, plays, short stories and poetry. The creation of each work is much like giving birth to a child. There is pain and also pleasure not to mention pride.
It is not possible to get everything one writes published—nor should writers consider all their work worthy of publication. I for one am not on that kind of ego trip. I often comment that rejections keep me humble. I'm still trying to write something outstanding, still attempting to produce that best-selling novel, still hoping to be "discovered". Truthfully, it will probably be my last thought on my deathbed. But I could no more stop writing than I could stop breathing. I write because I can't not write. It's simply what I do and who I am.
I've had a great deal of work published since that first experience. Every time something is accepted, published and paid for, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and elation.
My retirement has given me the opportunity to do what I always wanted to do, namely become a dedicated, professional freelance writer.
My first hard cover novel for Five Star/Gale was published June 2007. The Inferno Collection, a mystery novel, is in libraries all over the English-speaking world. It sold well enough that the publisher decided to bring the novel out in a large print edition in September 2008. I was able to use my work experience to help me write the novel.
I had the pleasure of signing a contract with Harlequin Worldwide Mystery to publish The Inferno Collection as a paperback reprint. It is the first novel in the Kim Reynolds librarian sleuth mystery series and the fourth novel I contracted for reprint rights with Harlequin. I’ve now penned four mysteries altogether in this particular series and a number of other novels as well. THE BAD WIFE is the 4th novel in this series and is available in print and e-book form on Amazon from Perfect Crime Press.
My latest book of fiction, which is my 17th, is a new romantic mystery entitled THE INHERITANCE, now available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N Online and many other booksellers. It will be published November 1st by Intrigue Publishing.
Have I succeeded in making my dream come true? Well, I remain basically an unknown writer, and so it’s still a dream in progress, but I continue to work on it each day. I guess you could say it gives my life a sense of purpose.
As a writer, what will work best for you? I suggest holding on to your day job as it can provide you with both material for your writing as well as financial security. You might just be the one to write the next bestseller in your spare time. Who can tell? And if you are retired or simply have time to invest, think of writing that special story that is unique to you.