Monday, May 07, 2012

Hard Work

It's hard to say what makes a professional writer. One can go by the traditional definition created by various writers organizations which state things such as a certain number of short story sales at a certain level of pay. For some reason, many of them claim that five cents per word is the cut-off point to be considered a pro sale. And further state that one needs three such sales of that level (or greater) to be considered a professional writer.

If so, I achieved that relatively soon after deciding to tackle the writing business in a serious manner. But it took many years before I earned any money at all that made a difference in the household budget. And to date the most I've ever made from writing was less than any of my regular day jobs.

And that's the thing--all of my professional life as a writer I have had to hold down a regular job in addition to selling my fiction. I've sold short stories, comic book scripts, reviews, and novels. And I've never been able to quit whatever paying job I have held so that I could write full time. It's just never been in the cards.

Generally, I've never had a hard time finding the leisure moments to work my second job of crafting fiction. I could always come home, shower, eat a meal, and then tackle the day's quota of words. But now I'm getting old. I'll  be 55 soon, and I have to admit that's old for a laborer. And that's what I do to pay for the roof over our heads and the food on our table and the clothes on our backs--I work as a physical laborer.

And I ain't  a kid any more. In earlier times I could shrug off the fatigue and get cracking on my short stories and comic scripts and novels. Now I find it more and more difficult to do that when I get home. My job is harder and my body is slowing down. My joints ache and my muscles hurt and by Jove I'm just freaking bushed when I get home. These days, I'm lucky if I can kick in a few hundred words before my eyelids want to close for the night and I have to head off to bed.

Oh, well. It's never been an easy thing to do. Many times I wanted to give up, but I just kept plugging along. It's a tiring, private task, but I haven't given in to the bad guys yet.

Where's my coffee cup?


MarkGelbart said...

I just turned 50 two weeks ago. I celebrated my birthday by running 5 miles, then punching my punching bag sans the 16 oz.gloves I usually wear.

I run 3 miles 4 times a week and can do 60 pullups. I refuse to physically decline.

I feel like I'm in as good as shape as ever except for my eyesight and hearing. I've always had poor eyesight. I have terrible near-sightedness, but now I can't see small things up close. It's annoying.

I'm just going to strive to age with dignity. I know that's a lot easier said than done though.

HemlockMan said...

As a laborer I have no choice about the physical exertion. 10+ miles of walking every day. In all kinds of weather. With a heavy load. It sucks ass. The knees are going, and there's nothing I can do about that. Already one round of surgery and I hope to avoid more. I'm not technically in bad shape as far as my lungs and heart are concerned. It's just that it's getting harder and harder to recover from the daily exertion of lugging that mail for so many miles.

My eyes have always been awful. Blind in one, sight fading in the other. Nothing I can do about that except wear my glasses.

Oh, well. If I can hold out six more years I can retire.