One of my favorite shows, Nashville, did a cliché I hate last week. They showed this songwriter, this pure hearted songwriter, being forced to write a jingle for a car dealership. I guess I was supposed to feel bad for him. I guess I was supposed to say “what about his art?”
This man, this desperate man was forced to prostitute his art for the masses. I guess I was supposed to be outraged. I was supposed to say “how dare that dirty car company demand he sully his art by writing a jingle?”
But the thing is, I’m real. I’m a novelist who hasn’t taken the world by storm, but I fully intend to. And as a person with true ambition, as a real writer who files writer on her tax returns, I think you got to pay your dues.
I get a lot of flak from my writer friends for selling out. See, I write a lot of advertising material. I ghostwrite. Not everything I write is a novel I’ve been dying to write… Some of it is just more advertising fodder. I write to pay my rent. And I get flak from people who work as cashiers, dog groomers, pizza delivery guys and more for not staying true to my art.
And it’s time I say this.
You’re fucking kidding me, right? You really think working in a cubicle, punching a time clock or flipping pizza dough for forty hours a week makes you more of a writer than a girl who actually writes all week?
Yeah, I could work in a cubicle too. Hell, by now, I could have a corner office with actual walls. I could work every day of the week in a job I hate, making enough money to keep me in SUV payments and my very own modular home. I could have complete stability. But I don’t. And you know why I don’t?
I’m all in.
Every word I write makes me a better writer. The work I do to pay the bills is me practicing my craft, every day, all day, and seven days a week. I don’t work forty hours. That would be a vacation for me. It’s 8 pm on a Friday night. I’m a smoking hot chick with disposable income who should be out partying. But I’m still writing.I’m writing for clients at the same time that I’m working on the coursework for my MFA in writing. My life is writing.
And every word I write makes me better.
And every pizza you make, it makes you a better pizza maker. Every person you check out makes you better at math. Every phone call you take makes you better at customer service.But nothing you do every day makes you a better writer. You do what you got to do to pay the bills and you write when you can.
To me, you’re the ones who sold out.
I walked away from a high paying job a long time ago. I could have rested on my laurels and been like you, only better. My SUV would have been a Lexus and my modular home would have had a foundation.But I decided having passion for what you do is more important.
So I took a real risk. I went all in. I worked my way up from the dregs of content mills to being the kind of person who makes more in one article than you make all week. I did it because I love writing. I loved it so much that I gave up stability for it. My passion made me land on my feet. I’m all in and that means I’m willing to pay my dues. I’ll write anything, as long as I’m writing. I’ll write until my fingers bleed.
Because every word I write, that makes me better.
So no people, I’m not the one who sold out. Writing in a genre different than the one I anticipated does not make me a sellout.
Working in a job that has nothing to do with writing makes you one.
I’m all in, but you clearly don’t have the balls to be. I get it. Being all in requires bravery. It requires you giving up your cushy nine-to-five gig and trusting your talent to carry you. It forces you to accept the fact that you might not be as good a writer as you thought.
It makes that cash register seem awful cozy.
I took the risk. I get the reward. You could have taken the risk too. You didn’t. Instead, you chose yourself a comfortable career, where you work for someone else 40 hours a week, and spend about four writing. Then you call yourself a real writer, because you’re writing the stuff you want to write! You’re super cool and in fifteen years when you finish that novel? You’re going to set the world on fire!
But really, you’re not. There is a very strong chance that you and your writing are going to disappear from the world without making a dent.
But me? My writing, regardless of the genre, is going to be there forever. I don’t look down on the writing I do for clients like it’s some kind of sell out. I look at it as yet another opportunity to display my passion to the world. Because regardless of what I write, I’ll always shine and I will never look down on the people that got me there.
I’m all in.