Selling Out

There comes a time in each person’s life when you have to give up on the dream of becoming a dot-com millionaire by thirty and take whatever job will keep a roof over your head and allow you to visit the dentist on occasion. If you’re really lucky, you’ll even earn enough to buy the expensive food— the kind that comes with both flavor and nutrition. So I write to order in exchange for money. If it’s a program manual or an annual report or a web page or a property history, I’ll write it because that’s what my employer needs. If I worked for somebody else, I’d be writing something else.

Is writing for a salary a giant time suck that takes up energy and attention and creative juices? Yes, it is. Does it use up resources I could be using towards producing a pretentiously significant work of Great Art? Damn right it does. Bur here’s the secret, from someone who has been there— so is poverty. Dealing with the day to day hustle of surviving on no money is a giant, soul-killing hassle. I worked harder at being poor than I ever have at a day job, and while at the end I suppose that “my time was my own” to work on my own projects, I was perfectly happy to trade 40 hours or so a week for a modest yet sufficient paycheck.

All that said, if I weren’t paid to write, would I still do so? Probably. I am first and foremost and from time immemorial a reader, and reading led me to a friend who led me to a friend who led me to Nanowrimo, which has led me to more friends, who led me here, to the Cafe. I find as I get older and inadvertently somewhat wiser, I have more things to write about, so let’s see where it goes from here.

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