Thursday, 2 July 2009
Working Girl - Elen Caldecott
I loved Nicola’s post earlier on this week. All the questions made me smile-wince, or swince as it will now be known. But there is one that always evokes a bigger swince than the others; and that is the dreaded ‘JK’ question.
Not that I mind being asked if I’m the new JK, well, not that much anyway. What I mind is the assumption that it’s only a matter of time before children’s writers buy great swathes of Morningside and use £50 notes to paper their new mansions; as though that’s the normal career path. Of course, my friends mean well. Of course, they’re being kind. But there is still a sense – among non-writers – that writing is a solid route to bucket-fulls of cash.
And thrice Ha!
I did an MA in creative writing. Throughout, visiting speakers and the course tutors would do their best to open our eyes to cold reality. ‘It’s tough to get published and it’s tough to make money even when you are published’, they said. Often.
But it’s only now, with a first book out and two more scheduled, that I’m starting to see their point.
But, I am not here to whine. Oh no.
On the contrary; today, I want to celebrate. I want us to applaud the wonder that is the Day Job.
Too often, it’s seen as a dreadful impediment to the ‘real work’ of a writer; your perceived success depends on how quickly you can give it up. But for many writers, you can never give up your day job. And we can sometimes be made to feel bad about that by friends and family who should know better.
Well, I love my day job, and I (probably) wouldn’t give it up even if those rolls of £50-note wallpaper do turn up. I sell tickets 3 days a week in an independent cinema. I work alongside interesting people and our customers are superb too. And, yes, I do get to see the films for free. Writing fits around the job perfectly and having to work makes my writing time even more precious.
Also, the fact I have to leave the house three times a week means I have to shower and get dressed. If I were a full-time writer I’m not so sure that would happen...
Lots of writers are teachers, or work in publishing, or even fly planes (I only know of one who does that, to be fair). We are all real writers, and we can all (mostly) pay the bills.
Long live the day job!
p.s. the photo is of me and some pals at Watershed - I am the Eric nearest the camera!
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