Michele Regenold, Writing for Kids from the Boondocks

A blog about writing for children and the quest for publication.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Finding the right day job

The percentage of fiction writers who can actually make a living at writing is pretty small, I'd guess less than five percent. So I have no illusions/delusions that I will someday make my living writing YA novels.

For me that means that I must have a day job. I currently work full-time as a writer/editor/webmaster at a university research center. It's a pretty good job. I have the best possible boss someone like me could have. The compensation and benefits are good.

So what's the problem? For one thing, the subject of the center's research is dry. I have no interest in it whatsoever, but generally I've been able to ignore this and do a good job anyway.

Lately, however, the issue of whether my work even matters has popped up. I don't really help people. I push words around, organize information, yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm good at it, but I could stop doing it tomorrow and I wouldn't miss it.

For years I thought I just needed to work in a different location on a different topic. This drove a sort of neverending job search.

But finally I realized that if my work doesn't matter to me anymore, perhaps I need to do something else.

Unfortunately I'm not one of those people who can work at something she doesn't care about and go home and write, write, write.

The not caring really wears me down. I feel like I'm wasting my time and my employer's time.

I want to know what it's like to care about my work, to be invested in it, to make a difference in someone's life.

Is that asking too much?

I'm acting on the premise that it's not.


At 2:57 PM, Blogger Carol Collett said...

I hear you. I have to care about what I'm doing. I have to feel that in some way I have made the world better.
Keep looking, you'll find it. The good thing is that writing for YA can really impact someone's life.

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Michele. I still have a picture for you from the Iowa SCBWI. I am the geeky red-headed lady with whom you took a picture... Anyways, I agree with you that caring about your job is important. Not only that, I think working at work that at least matters to us stimulates our best work. So...working on this dry subject may not be the best place for you. Maybe even something that incorporates one thing you love, even tangentially might be better, right? For example, being a web master for the children's section of a library might be better than being a web master for some site you care nothing for. Of course, there is also the "if life gives you lemons, you make lemonade" attitude. Uh, I never quite know what to make of this question myself. I teach English as a second language, and some parts of it I like a lot. For example, talking to people from all over the world, and being able to help them understand each other. Then there are boring parts, too...but the schedule works out for me, as I can do it from home and also have my kids to care for. And I think many of the world's greatest writers had other jobs while they wrote. It keeps them plugged in, right?


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