Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be ...

... writers.

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," pole position in the Poorhouse Classic! Vrooom Vroooooom!

This might surprise some of you, but I'm not a goat judge.

I got the idea of calling myself a goat judge when my daughters and I went to a county fair and I saw a goat judge at work. He was an old grizzled geezer, and completely besotted with goats (in an appropriate sort of way). To me, judging the quality and quantity of lactation, as well as handler skill, looked like a swell way to make a living.

One thing's for damn sure. It pays more than what I am, which is a writer.

I published a nice book last year. I'm proud of it. I also finished a second book-length manuscript and wrote a long article for Faerie Magazine.

It's a sweet life when you love what you do. That's why I wish I loved scooping ice cream at Coldstone, or taking toll money on the turnpike.

If you ever dreamed of being a freelance writer, your own boss with your beautifully-produced books arriving in the mail, well. Get an application to Goat Judge School and start learning about buds, kids, and the proper principles of fencing.

Even highly successful freelance writers will tell you that you're always one assignment away from mortgage foreclosure. In fact, forget about a mortgage. You won't qualify for one. When the banker hears "freelance writer," he or she will leave the room, stamp NO NO NO NO NO NO! on your application, and come back with a shit-eating grin, trying to offer you a high interest credit card -- just in case that novel growing spider eggs in the corner of your office ever gets published because your daughter marries the president of a big New York publishing house.

My daughters aren't marrying age, and I'd never advise them to tie the knot with a publisher. Those dudes are only one bad book away from foreclosure too. Just ask that gal who bought a book by O.J. Simpson called How I Would Have Done It, But I Didn't Do It, But I Could Have If I'd Wanted To.

If you're wondering what sparked this rant, it's this: I've been a long-term substitute teacher in a high school since December 10. My salary was raised January 1. Between then and now I've earned more teaching freshmen how to research a report on insects than I earned all of last year on all the projects listed above.

And you know what else? My paychecks have arrived right on time, with the taxes already taken out. I haven't had to make one phone call, let alone the 15 or 16 it usually takes to get a ducking editor to pay what they owe. (Must admit Omnigraphics Press is a prompt pay and a good staff. The exception, not the rule.)

Think about this for a minute. It pays better to be a substitute teacher than a writer. Unless you're bloody John Grisham or J.K. Rowling.

If you'll excuse me now, I have to crank up the Model T and go get my daughter The Spare from her school. I never make her do her Language Arts homework.



BBC said...

People keep telling me that I should publish a book.

But I don't write because I want to make some money and that is what the book market is all about, I write because I want the world to be a better place.

Tennessee Jed said...

It stinks you can't find the way to a best seller. I will think good thoughts your way.

My wife was a sub for a time and I know that ain't really a living either. She is an assistant now getting her degree and that money stinks too.

The other day I was climbing a 80' pole and was thinking how I am putting my life at risk to clear less than $6 an hour after health ins. and child support.

Athana said...

Dear anne, I paid a visit to Omnigraphics, but couldn't tell which one is your book. What's your title?

Jeff said...

Anne! Does your book have anything remotely to do with your blog? If so, why on the gods' green Earth are you not promoting it more here? Ten to one you and your blog can sell your book a hundred times better than Omniwhoever could. A link, a page, anything! According to technorati, you have almost twice as many inbound links as my blog does, and I get around 75 visitors a day. Your traffic must be at least that high. We're all potential customers, and you haven't told us you have a product!

Rosie said...

Yes, you should definitely put your book up here. I tried to search Omnigraphics for it, but they have some issue with searching by author. What's your title?

I just get so flummoxed when I try to think about submitting stuff. I swear, I start looking into all the queries and the whole damn process and I just get sick to my stomach.

Interrobang said...

What you've said is exactly why I'm a technical writer. I still get to write all day (or most days), but paycheques come more or less on time, and I can bill by the hour.

I hope to make more of a switch over to other types of freelance writing in the future. My streetcar book should be coming out soon, and I have a manuscript called "How to Dress Like a Muslim" that I'd like to see published, and I've got to get off my rump and start submitting articles and stories places again.

I will admit, technical writing isn't for everyone -- it has a constant, steep learning curve, it requires a good deal of rapport with computers and/or machinery and people like engineers and programmers, and it's ferociously difficult to break into the field. Not only that, but when you tell people what you do for a living, they say, "What?!"