It is my goal to be a professional writer some day. By way of definition, this means that I can support myself and my family solely by writing. It can mean (though it doesn’t have to) that I’ve been published by a traditional publisher. I don’t expect this day to come soon, but it’s what I’m shooting for in the back of my mind with every project.
This is a tough goal and one that requires a lot of discipline, sacrifice, and creative energy. And time.
One question I hear asked is when do I stop? Or, to put it more accurately, at what age do I consider the goal of financially supporting myself with writing unattainable?
I will NEVER stop writing. Not while my brain functions and man can build an interface to it.
But at some point I may have to consider that it won’t be my day job either.
I think at 28 I’m still too young to really consider this question. I certainly have a target for when I hope to achieve this goal, but its fuzzy at best. I can’t really pursue writing with the same zest if I thought failure was an option or a possibility.
And not being able to support myself with writing, but still having enough time to do it well might be just fine. Plenty of authors have day jobs, even ones with bigger followings. This is not failure, but it’s also not what I’m shooting for.
I’m young. I’m arrogant (you have to be a little bit to think that people want to read what you write). And I’m willful (I prefer to say disciplined). Ultimately, one or all of these will have to change before I change my mind.
That said, reading Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek did get me to thinking about one set of conditions under which I might stop. My family, which right now is just me and the little red haired girl (and a couple of pets), is the most important thing in my life. I’ll do whatever I have to to support us. My wife is a great support to the writing, both in the help she gives, and the sacrifices she’s willing to make.
But, if I ever reach a point of diminishing returns, where the sacrifices are too great and the benefits too small, I might consider stopping trying to write professionally. I only pray that if I ever do reach that point, I’ll have the strength to know it, and be able to change my plans without resentment.
Because marriage is sacrifice, and my marriage is more important than my writing. That’s why I’m lucky I’m with who I’m with.
But for the record, she’s not going to let me stop.
Incidentally, I am encouraged by the community of people in there 30s and 40s on WordPress who are still actively pursuing this dream. I’m okay if this takes a long time, and you guys prove day in and day out that passions are always worth pursuing. Kudos.