1. WMMorgan
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    WMMorgan Member

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    Quit my job and gonna write!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by WMMorgan, Oct 12, 2009.

    Fed up with it. Mediocre pay as a contractor-tech for protecting a nice chunk of the AT&T national buried-fiber network, and no raises in five years.

    The last straw was when a senior AT&T tech kept crowding me (I mean, literally crowding me, the skin on my right arm still crawls with the memory) with his elephantiasic beer-gut as we traced a rope-pulled transmitter sonde through a deep cable conduit. He scarcely hid his contempt for my perceived ability, or rather his perception of my lack thereof.

    The hand-held DrillCheck is a technological wonder. Got some redneck semi-literate utility crew boring a new gas-line under your billion-dollar fiber-optic cable? The DrillCheck will tell you where that whilrling diamond-toothed drillbit is, and where it's going. It's black and shiny with a handle and two side-projecting antenna masts. Looks like something Batman might whip out of his Batmobile and point at the Joker.

    For more than seven years I have used the DrillCheck a hundred times, successfully. Never had a cable cut--and you don't want to be anywhere near a fiber cable-cut, because all holy hell will break loose.

    And this CWA-Union fat bastard thinks I didn't know how to use a DrillCheck? Yeah--right.

    I quit right then and there. Told him to f--- off and get himself a new technician, and I left him there in the hot steamy evening of downtown Mobile, hoping the next morning I'd get word that he had keeled over from the heat. It's happened before. (He didn't.)

    That was September 8th. What the hell, I was seriously thinking of quitting anyway. Got a nice chunk of savings. I think some stock I own will do very nicely in the next year or so, with a little luck. (Check it out: HDY. Little company with the largest single offshore oil lease in west Africa, a piece of continental shelf the size of South Carolina. And brand-new industy-star-level management.)

    Thinking of writing a horror-anthology, then a book. Or a book and then the anthology. Or maybe both at the same time.

    Please check out The Weather on Krypton in the Fanfic forum. Getting some stunning reviews. Wish I could write like that all the time.

    Just wondering: Can a new writer--all things being equal--just throw together an anthology of unpublished stories and expect it to even get looked at?

    ~
     
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  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Certainly you always have a chance of getting it published, but if you have a whole stack of unpublished short stories, you're better off sending them to journals and magazines first. They are much more likely to look at unpublished authors. Even if you do get them published, then get someone interested in a book, anthology or novel, you're not going to make much money from it unless you're insanely lucky. So I would hold off on quitting just yet. Most writers who have no other source of income, or a spouse who works full time, are dirty poor.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yup. And being the starving artist is nowhere near as romantic as it sounds. :redface:
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In a word, no. Novels sell. Individual short stories sell in magazine markets. But anthologies from an unknown writer? That's a pipe dream.
     
  5. WMMorgan
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    WMMorgan Member

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    Sorry pal, too late. This was a month ago, as a comprehensive review of my missive here should reveal.

    Besides, there are different kinds of poverty. The job was driving me crazy, and I felt trapped. I was poor in spirit. I'm free of them now. No worries. :D
     
  6. WMMorgan
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    WMMorgan Member

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    Advice noted. Thanks!
     
  7. FrankB
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    FrankB Member

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    I agree regarding the anthology.

    If you've got enough socked away to live on for 18-24 months, and you're good (and lucky) you've got a chance to make some money as a writer.

    Good luck.
     
  8. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    If you have a few bob to enjoy the freedom of spirit doing what you want entails, I say go for it, but be under no illlusions, and certainly don't hold your breath! Good luck with your endeavours.
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fair enough, since you do have stock and lots saved up, but I wouldn't give up on having a normal job in the long term. Send out the occasional resume, and if you get a job offer than sounds good, don't turn it down.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cog said it for me!... a big, fat, 'not a chance'!'

    and rei's right in that you need to have the stories well-published singly, first... add to that, you must make a name for yourself as a good short story writer, before a collection of your works will have any chance to be taken on by agents, or book publishers...

    and 18-24 months is not even close to enough time to write a novel, get an agent, snag a publisher, and get some money flowing in... so, i'd get/keep some kind of day job, if i were you, rather than use up your nest egg and end up penniless and incomeless, way before you've any chance of making a living at writing...
     
  11. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Chase your dream WMMorgan. Very few people have the opportunity or guts to make such a choice. Give yourself a specific goal and a reasonable time limit. Then give the effort all you've got. Good luck!
     
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  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Salty is right, though. We do sound horribly negative, but we also don't want anyone making any stupid mistakes. What everyone has said is realistic, what every writer has faced. For the first five years I spent submitting things, I got no books accepted and earned a total of ten dollars. Since then, while I have had a book acceptance, I haven't made any money.
     
  13. Hollowly
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    Hollowly Member

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    Personally I think you did the right thing. Life's to short to waste on a job you don't like - not to mention the spirit crushingness of it all. You made the first big leap. Now you've got to work towards what you really want to do. Though that may mean getting a "day job" (atleast for awhile), you'll be working towards what you want to do.
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Get as many short stories published as you can while you work on your novel. It is easier to get a novel published if you have published short stories.
     
  15. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    That's some blood in the testicles you have right there Morgan, respect for that.

    While some where discouraging but with good intentions, I suggest you stick to your decision for the moment and until cash starts getting to the low levels get a job. Until then, write write write. Never waste a single hour not writing. The faster you get it done, the faster you can make it a bestseller, and the faster you can get money.

    Good luck!
     
  16. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Just chiming in.

    It's hard to make money writing; the only job that pays less annually on-average (in the United States) is "migrant farmworker," according to something Joe Haldeman told his science fiction class last year. On the other hand, if you have enough saved to be able to go for a year or two without needing to work, it's not a bad experiment.

    Also, part time jobs might not be a bad idea if you're going to spend time writing. A lot of professional writers do something else on the side -- because they don't make much money, usually. Something like $5000 per year on average if they've already published a book and have kept writing since then.

    So, sort of saying some obvious things, and hopefully some less obvious ones:

    1) Write every day if you can. If writing is to be an income-getter, you're going to have to write a lot. I can usually manage 1000 to 2000 words a day if I'm not currently working / in school. (I know because I spent one summer during high school writing.)

    2) Short stories are good - they don't get much money, but they build up a readership. Amateur magazines don't pay but they may have reasonably readership. Same with e-zines, which may pay a pittance ($5 or $10 flat). Semi-pro magazines pay more, perhaps a quarter cent to three cents per word. The Writer's Market is a good resource; it is probably available in a public library, assuming you're in the United States. Keep sending stories out -- only send a given story to one publisher at a time, but the instant you receive a rejection notice, you should send that story out to another publisher.

    3) KEEP WRITING. Average turnaround time for a short story is around two months. Some groups are faster, some are slower. It's a good idea to have a bunch of stories circulating.

    4) Anthologies are probably only feasible after you've gotten 10+ stories published, so that magazine readers know you and your work and will recognize your name. It helps to have 5+ stories which have been sold to pro magazines. I tend toward science fiction and fantasy magazines myself, and if you are inclined the same way I'd direct you to Realms of Fantasy, F&SF, Asimov's and Analog.

    5) Some people can work on multiple projects at once; some can't. If you can, then work on short stories as you write your novel. (If you prefer to write novels at all, that is. But the money is in novels; short stories are good for starters and for getting your name out there and for accumulating experience.)

    6) KEEP WRITING, but target your audience. Short stories should be 5,000 words or less for optimum chance at selling them. Writers Market will let you know (sometimes) which magazines want fantasy, which ones can't take any more crash-landed-ship stories, which ones want flash fiction or humor or PG-rated stories.

    7) Keep sending stuff out. At some point, you'll get lucky.

    Best of luck,

    - A Fan of Heinlein (now branching out to be a fan of a lot of other authors) (Also, if you enjoy fantasy books, but haven't read Tim Powers, Scott Lynch, or Patrick Rothfuss yet ... why haven't you?)
     
  17. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you haven't read 'The Alchemist', you should. You're much like the main character in that book, as he gives everything up to follow his "life line". I think that if you have a really powerful force pulling you towards something, ingoring it for too long will kill you on the inside.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's not necessarily true, arch... a writer can have a slew of short stories published and if the novel isn't marketable, nobody's gonna take it on...

    all that having some paid credits does, is give one's novel query a slightly better chance of generating a request to see sample chapters, or the full ms... and if the query letter isn't sufficiently captivating, even those credits won't do the trick...
     
  19. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    I actually really enjoyed just reading your original post. I could very happily consume more of the same so good luck to you!!

    Sadly they're right when they say there's little money to be made in this game (on average - don't you cheeky chappies start quoting JK's wealth or King's bank balance at me ;) ) so best to look for a little supplementary income, even if it's only part time. And yes, do try and get some short stories published first. Every little helps and that beaten spirit will feel better for it.

    As I said before, all the best to you.
     
  20. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    But look at how much money JK Rowling and Stephen King have made after writing around 10 books! Fabolous! ;)


    Back to more serious stuff, as long as your book is just plain amazing, you can make shedloads like Paolini, JK, King's and whoever else made money. Make it read well, without no problems, let the reader sit back and enjoy the smooth ride, and you'll strike. :)

    I know it's WAAAAY HARDER than it sounds (ok, reads :p ) like, but as long as you are mentally prepared to do this, then give it a try. :)
     
  21. Laters
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    Laters New Member

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    i say rock on. jump both feet in and give it your all. you can always get a job later if need be but at least you tried this route and won't ever wonder.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is not a good economy to be without a job. Better to keep the day job and work on your writing on your own time. If you hate your job, find another job you like better before leaving the old one, but don't cut your throat by walking away from a steady income.
     
  23. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    Congratulations! You now have complete control over how you spend your time. Use your best time to write and not work for others.

    Check out Steve Pavlina's online article "10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job".
     
  24. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    Well considering how interesting your post read I say keep writing! Still I don't think a part time job is really going to distract you. Plus a long gap in your job history might be murderous on your resume. I'd keep a part time job for the sake of survival (if you can find one)..

    I'd love to have a career in writing. I'm currently majoring in Journalism, but my parents are trying to convince me to chose something else like a History major and eduction. They tell me the printed press is dying and that I won't find a job.
     
  25. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    There's always digital press. And there's always going to be at least a significant portion of conservatives who will always read printed books.
     

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