The Enormity of the Task Ahead

I realize that I am rehashing over old stuff here, but I slept badly last night, due in large part to restless children, and this was bouncing around my mind in the darkness. I’m sure some of it was merely a case of the dark amplifying the shadows that normally haunt a writer and twisting them into something far uglier… rather, I hope.

Have you ever stopped, put your keyboard to one side and taken a moment to think about the enormity of the task at hand. I’ll be honest, I don’t like my job, and I don’t want to be working there until I can retire, forty years from now. I want to be able to write full-time.

I see a lot of my friends online powering ahead through their careers and some of them even write full-time. By that I mean, they have left the day job behind.

This is where my ‘experience’ came from last night. With 4 kids at home to support, and with the expensive way of life in Holland, I don’t think I will ever be in a  position to stop (office) working and write full-time. Not unless I achieve full on global success. Sure that is the ultimate goal, let’s face it, that is a completely different level of success than many indie authors achieve.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but then my mind continued to percolate and got me thinking about my writing. I am now finalizing a short story collection, but … is it good enough, can I afford to put something out there that won’t make it? Will it bite me in the ass and end up hurting me. Or rather, am I publishing these short stories in an anthology because they are good, or because I want to have something out there, something being sold and (hopefully) earning me money?

The, the final and most frightening moment of the whole course of events was about my real job. I put in my eight hours and go home. The job irritates me, and offers me no satisfaction, but, it is a job, and it pays the bills, so I cannot complain. However, should I be doing more? It isn’t a career, there aren’t any promotion pathways and the like, but maybe, just maybe, I should be spending more time focused on that. Maybe I am going about things the wrong way. Writing is the hobby, it is the thing that may pay my bills, one day, if I am lucky. The job is what does pay the bills, and like it or not, it’s the only thing around.

I can even take it in a broader context, because if I moved jobs, I know I would feel just the same after 6 months, because office work like that bores me. So any sort of job like that I turn up on time, leave on time and get pissed if anything keeps me there over my scheduled 40 hours.

While this may sound more like a pity party, I can assure you it is not. It was just the way my mind worked in the midnight hours. It was always about the writing, the plans, and the Mount Everest (squared) climb that not only I, but all writers face.

It makes me thankful that the writing community is so close-knit and willing to help each other out, because, in all seriousness, can you even imagine what it would be like if we were all just out for ourselves?

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9 thoughts on “The Enormity of the Task Ahead

  1. Alex, I feel your pain. Someone recently told me they are pulling back from writing full-time and I keep hearing things that suggest this may be a secret trend. We’re all remaining positive and showing our brave faces, but this summer has sucked for sales. Things went downhill as soon as Amazon’s algorithm changed. I feel the financial pressure. Yes, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” but it’s still a race. More books for sale means more kinetic potential. I have no solutions at the moment and I don’t think anyone does. It’s like we’re waiting for the glut of “free” to ease up and trying to discover the next development in getting discovered. You aren’t alone. I’m not alone. Doesn’t help much to know that. All I know how to do is write the next book and do all I can to make the dream work. It’s frustrating, so day job or no, I’m just going to focus on writing books and trust that it will work out. If we had a choice about writing, we wouldn’t do it, but it’s in our wiring so we write. Get lost in composition so you can be found. That’s all I’ve got for you. Sorry. I wish I had more.

  2. You’re not alone Alex but you are luckier than many. I’ve come across so very many writers who work all their lives and don’t start writing until they retire. I’m almost one of them just a little luckier than most.
    I think you’re driven to write, now, not in twenty or forty years time. You /know/ what you want and you’re making it happen. I know it’s frustrating but in a sense you really do have it all. Sure you have four kids to feed, clothe, educate etc but YOU HAVE FOUR KIDS! Isn’t that an amazing thing? And despite the demands on your time you’re still writing! And you have a full time job… and yet you are still writing! You may not have much money but you have love… and you’re still writing!

    There are always at least two ways of looking at everything. I am so envious of your drive and energy. And youth :p Your glass is half full Alex. 😀

    1. Oh having four kids is awesome. Even on the worst of days, having them around, in the house, is the best thing in the world.

      Writing is who we are, and I will always write, and I will succeed, simply because I won’t stop until I do.

      It was just a sobering idea, whispered in the middle of the night. Just as I was falling asleep it spoke, and then the more I thought about it, the bigger the moutain became. It’s funny how that happens. haha.

      Sometimes I forget I’m you. It sounds silly, but I don’t feel 28. Maybe it’s the kids, maybe its from my time in the police, being serious. I’ve worked since I was 14, after school etc, never been a big socilaizer. It’s easy for me to forget I’m not middleaged haha. Nothing against being middleaged 🙂

      I am my own worst enemy much of the time, and expect too much of myself. I am happy for it to take time, but am hard on myself for not writing more, or promoting more each day. I guess you could call it determination. LOL.
      We will both get there Meeks, and when we do, we will sit back, watch the sun go down with a cold drink and a smile on our faces 🙂

      1. I’m a one-pot screamer so I may watch that glorious sunset with a nice latte but I’ll be raising my glass in spirit if nothing else!

        28 is so very young in my eyes! I don’t envy your youth because I really like the person I am now, after so many years of learning and living but I do wish I’d found my passion at a younger age.

        So many people drift through life, never knowing a sense of purpose, always feeling a vague sense of dissatisfaction with everything. Having a passion and knowing what you want to do to make that passion a reality – that is a huge gift because you will never wake up one day in your sixties to the realization that you have wasted your life.

        You are one of the lucky ones 😀

  3. Yes, Alex, you are among the youngest of the Indie writers I know, and I am really impressed with everything that you have achieved and what you continue to do. It takes some self-discipline to keep up the regular blogs and to write/edit every day alongside an office job, and with four children as well, I don’t know how you do it!

    But you do, because writing is a part of who you are, and even if you never published any of your work, you would still have to write. So, it makes sense to get it published and see what happens, because who knows? You may well be the next Stephen King… you have plenty of working years left in you! We don’t know how the publishing world will change during the next 12 months even, so one day our time will come, and you will be able to give up the office job and earn a living from your writing. Then you can rest easy and look to the next challenge.

    1. As I said to Andrea, sometimes I forget I am only 28. It escapes me. I am hard on myself. I don’t expect to get to the top of the heap without work, or even over night, but I am hard on myself for not doing more. For thinking that I should have written more, should have set my alarm 15 minutes earlier. Which I actually do now. 04.30 :S but still I find myself thinking, well, what’s another 15 minutes. I am tough on myself. It’s a good thing, I am sure.

      We will have to organize a get together next time I’m in the UK.

  4. I believe that Stephen King addressed this very topic, when he wrote his book On Writing. Even the great man himself had to work regular jobs and live on very little, ’til his books finally made it big.
    I am sure that he got discouraged many times. Remember, it was only after his wife had found and secretly submitted his manuscript, that he achieved what he had longed for so much of his life.
    Alex, if you have realized anything about me, you have discovered that I do not lie, not even to spare a person’s feelings. You write well and have the potential to make it big.
    The day job is just a thing that is for here and now, to help your family to survive ’til the world realizes your greatness. It will not be like that forever.

  5. as a writer who didn’t begin until retirement I smile at your impatience – but I know your frustration – always the damned job eh! but at 28 -what a dreadful young age, can hardly remember that far back, you are still gathering experiences – the children will provide tons, police work yes, boredom and frustration yes yes – the only way I found was to turn the negative into a kind of writers workshop, each day to glean another insight, character, jewel of an expression, from those around you, revel in the fun at home. Keep on going – so many truely great authors had to work under the same frustrations, keeping family and home together. I think nowadays we are used to speed in everything, but maybe good writing belongs more in the ‘slow’ movement

    Keep smiling

    1. I have to accept that I am young, and things take time. Or rather tell myself that I did my best at the end of the day. That I gave it my all and took steps to achieving my goal. I need to lighten up on myself, that is the key.
      I am happy for things to take time, and get done right, it is just that I have little patience with myself. I feel guilty if I take a night off or if I don’t get as much done for whatever reason. 🙂 I’m just nuts that’s all.

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