The Sticky Tentacles of “What If”

You may not know it from my constant harping on writing-related things and publishing related things and my obsession with books about writers, but I’m fascinated by writer’s day jobs. As I cleaned this blog up and polished some of the old crust off of it in preparation for this 30 Day Challenge, I tried to read more blogs outside of the ones I normally read. One thing I found over and over again is that a good chunk of popular bloggers are full-time freelance writers.

This is not really surprising I guess considering professional wordsmiths are usually seeking any and all platforms to hock their wares, but it was interesting to see the variety of work they do. At the top of the spectrum you have the famous to semi-famous author bloggers like Neil Gaiman, Laura Lippman, and one of my new favorite bloggers, Lawrence Block. These people make their cash with novels and a little short fiction here and their. Then you have the next tier of folks like Chuck Wendig and John Scalzi who make some coin from novels and short stories but also still have feet firmly planted in the freelance worlds of corporate non-fiction (Scalzi) and RPG crafting (Wendig). Then there are the remaining bloggers who are everything in between.

John and Chuck are the ones who have been on my mind the most because they were full-time professional writers long before their first novels came out. I’d love to be a professional freelancer except I have no desire to do freelance journalism and I have no skill or interests really in RPG gaming. This is where the What If tentacles have been crawling around in my brain.

I had a good long time to assess my skill and interest in journalism. I liked it for a while and had a natural knack for it, but tired quickly of the tediousness and petty stupidity of suburban newspapering. I never really got a chance to give corporate writing a try. When I was done with college in 2003, I sent out a ton of resumes and went on several interviews for corporate work. I interviewed with an architecture firm to do copywriting, my current University interviewed me back then for editorial work and copywriting for the legal continuing education program, and I interviewed with a couple of automotive trade groups for copywriting and editorial work. Never got called back for a single one. I only applied for one journalism job and they hired me on the spot after my first interview.

Since the end of my journalism career, I briefly pursued an academic career (another field I am sure I have no desire to return to) but mostly I’ve made my career in the administrative field where I’ve been quite happy and made a good living. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that I would have been great at corporate writing if given the shot. What’s funny is I’ll occasionally look at the job boards here when they post writing positions and I’d have to take a serious pay cut to move to that field now.

Ultimately of course it’s worked out for the best because I like not having my creative side taxed which leaves me free to pursue that work on my own. And what of a future as a freelancer? I still think that’s possible writing only novels without needing to be a bestseller. I can be a quick writer when I want to be and that means the opportunity to write multiple books per year. Along with my dark crime fiction I’d like to write cozy mysteries and romance fiction. Along with the possibilities of ebook publication on my own I think there is plenty of work out there to keep a talented and focused freelancer busy.

For right now though, I’ve got to get this current novel done. So go away.