As I eagerly await the arrival of the final draft of my publishing contract for my novel, I am still faced with the necessity of writing for money. So I have updated my profile on Elance and started bidding on projects, and lo and behold, so far I have had two ‘bites’ – one from a company who write targeted blog posts for marketing purposes, and the other to write review/revision materials for a healthcare professional group. Both of these projects are well within my scope to write. But I am faced again with the dilemma. Writing things for money means I don’t have enough time and energy to engage with fiction writing. But if I don’t write for money, I have less freedom to be creative. I have responsibilities. I am lucky in that my ‘day job’ affords me a great deal of flexibility and my particular skills make some aspects of that job easier than it might be for other people. So I can maximise my efficiency and make more time for myself by not taking too much work home. But like so many other writers, particularly women, I have other responsibilities. There are always housework, cooking, childcare, animal care, shopping and finances to attend to. I have a partner and family who quite like to spend time with me.
So it amazes me sometimes that anyone gets any writing done. Is it therefore a retrograde motion to spend some of that time writing for money rather than writing fiction to be published, developing my art? I don’t think so. Some of the best advice I have been given as a writer has been that good writers see it as work, and are disciplined, dedicated, and manage their time well. Only time will tell whether my writing is good, but I have the attributes of a good writer by those standards. I am particularly good at writing to order, focusing on deadlines and ensuring that I pay attention to instructions and guidelines. So, am I selling out by spending more time on paid work for which I get no credit and gain no author reputation? Or am I simply being practical?
Certainly I could not make my living as a writer yet, not by any stretch of the imagination. But the money helps to pay the bills, and allows me to earn a second income from the comfort of my own home. Still I wonder if the value of my PhD in Creative Writing lies mainly in its value in enhancing my writing and editing skills, or the fact that it enhances my profile as a freelance writer and makes me more likely to get work writing filler for websites. Only time will tell.
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