So. Thread. I worked years of day jobs while writing novels that wouldn’t ever get published because I wasn’t ready to write them (but they still needed to be written in order for me to learn things).
Ironically, had I just quit my day jobs to concentrate on writing novels, I would’ve starved because I needed to write unpublishable shitshow novels before I ever figured out how to write not shitty ones.
I began working freelance in the game industry as a way to hone my skills and make money but for the initial years of this I still had a day job because... I needed rent and food and bill money and gas money.
I was young which is arguably the most apt time to simply QUIT THAT JOB AND FLY FREE but being young also means I really wasn’t good enough to just “be a writer” and “follow my dreams.” So, I worked a day job AND worked at writing.
The money from freelance was good, uh, but its fucking freelance — the money came on its own goddamn timetable, appearing randomly, as if by WITCH SPELL. Not reliable. Needed the day job.
Eventually I met my wife and we moved in and her health care and steady income let me disentangle and start doing freelance regularly, full-time. AND EVEN THEN —
When it came time to get a mortgage ha ha I had to get another day job because banks were like “WE DON’T SPEAK FREELANCE BEEP BOOP BEEP.”
I worked for the International Cash Register Dealer’s Association, I shredded documents for a pigment company, I sold computers, ran IT for a fashion merchandising company, worked at bookstores and coffee shops, did marketing for a library system. That’s just some of it.
All the while I carved out time to write in mornings and lunch breaks and at fucking midnight and on weekends and whatever. And when I wasn’t doing that I had the comfortable safety of my wife’s income and health insurance.
I am full time now because I’ve built to this point with help — help from day jobs and my wife and from taking it slow and steady. Which I know isnt sexy and exciting, but that’s how I did it. YMMV.
And maybe I’ll have to do it again, and If I do, I hope there’s no shame in that. I’ve got dependents.
And even with all that I’m still a VERY PRIVILEGED AND LUCKY DUCKY ASSHOLE to be able to make it work as long as I have. It wasn’t easy and I had help.
The starving artist is not a sexy myth — but some people want it to be because if you’re hungry, they can take advantage of you. Work with your belly full and a roof over your head and if that means day job(s), so be it.
No harm in comfort and safety. Zero shame. Art is still art when you’re not almost dying in order to make it. The world will always be ending — no need to rush it.
You can follow @ChuckWendig.