Friday, 14 January 2011

The Other Side of the Dream

Over Christmas there were various family gatherings and at one I heard the following exchange between my older brother and my son, who graduated this summer and incredibly landed his dream job a week after his final exam:

David: How are you finding the world of work?
Nick: Not as much fun as being a student.

Surprise, surprise, being a 9-5, Monday to Friday office worker isn't as much fun as being a student, and - according to Nick - he was much better off financially as a student than as a tax paying, student loan repaying, rent paying, bill paying worker.  Of course, he's furthering his long term ambitions but part of him regrets taking up a job so soon after graduation when the majority of his contemporaries were having several months of travel and fun before looking for work.  

So, what's that got to do with writing?  When you're unpublished, all you can think about is being published.  The Land of Publication looks beautiful, a place where nothing bad can happen and the little birds sing in the trees all day.  Then, one day, it's your turn to cross the Great Divide and you find yourself there.  The grass is still green, but it doesn't taste as sweet, the little birds' tweeting gets on your nerves, the incessant sunshine is giving you a headache...

Getting published is never as you expect it to be.  For most of us it's a bit of a damp squib - our publishers don't appear that interested in our book, the press and reading public are equally indifferent.  Even if you get a glimpse of the spotlight it's usually a mad, demanding rush that doesn't allow you a moment's peace and squeezes out the time you'd normally spend on writing.  Oh, and the money never works out quite as wonderfully as you'd expected, what with commission and staged payments.  

I'm not complaining; I'd rather be published than not and my route was relatively pain-free.  But I do wish sometimes I'd spent more time on the 'wrong' side of the Great Divide, time that could have been spent building up support networks and industry awareness, developing a work routine and even a bottom drawer of material.   Nowadays you'd also be thinking of building a social platform through blogging, Facebook, Twitter etc.

So if you're on the unpublished side and looking wistfully at the Land of Publication, don't waste your time dreaming of what it's going to be like.  Find out, and make the most of your opportunities, both now and for the future.  


Liz Fielding said...

I'll be your son's mates would give up the few months of "fun" for the dream job. In a heartbeat.

But you're right. Being published, like working nine-to-five, is hardwork and no one appreciates you as much as you think they should. Or pays you as much. :)sen

Sarah Duncan said...

I think he's realising that now as quite a few of them are still unemployed.

And oh yes - no one appreciates you as much as you think they should!