Do you guys ever write comments on other people’s blogs that you realize upon finishing could stand as blog posts of your own? N.K. Jemisin writes a wise and meditative post on the necessity of day jobs for writers, and here’s the comment I posted in response. Go read her post first, and then come back here if you want to read my reaction!
I was very much struck by Cormac McCarthy’s decision to work at nothing except his writing; he endured poverty and privation so as to not do anything else, and I think it was this monomania which eventually caused his first two divorces. There were times he couldn’t even afford a new toothbrush, but still he persisted in doing little more than house sitting for others or the like so as to focus full time on his novels. Inspiring and terrible both, I feel, in that it demonstrates the level of sacrifice necessary to be a full time writer in this age.
This is a very wise post, nkjemisin, but still presents a bitter pill to swallow; though I enjoy teaching middle school more than any other job I’ve held (which range from working in factories to mortgage brokering, from being a janitor to a corporate blog manager), I still dream of being a full time writer. Fully aware of the challenges inherent in the lack of structure, and the inspiration I derive from working outside my home and being ‘in’ the world, as opposed to out of it, ensconced within my bedroom typing. But ah, the ascetic dream of removal and isolation, pure focus and unlimited productivity! Even if it’s just a mirage, it’s a damned attractive one.
I think I’m the only person I know within my circle of friends who aspires to be sufficiently successful in their dream career that they can subsist just above the poverty line while pursuing it. Everybody else dreams of promotions and money, bigger apartments and vacations to Barcelona. But ah! To be able to simply and indefinitely cover rent, health insurance, food and transportation on the most basic of levels, and just write, write write write! Now that would be a dream come true.