Precarious, Indeed

It’s weird being home and seeing high school friends, whether by accident, by appointment, or on Facebook. At university it was great being surrounded by people with similar interests as me. Lots of my uni friends do Creative Writing and we can talk about the possibilities for future employment as journalists, teachers, authors, and more! We can trade works and build each other up to be better and it’s good to know I’m not alone on this precarious road I’ve chosen.

But then, every few months, I return home again. I return to extended family gawking at the massive amount of pages I’ve filled in my notebook, and those same people asking with deprecating tones, “How long are you going to live with your parents?” or “Do you have a job yet?”. And then there are the friends and high school classmates who’ve found internships and summer jobs at big important companies, doing things relevant to their degrees. They aren’t trying to push this in my face, and I really am happy for them all. I’m not even envious, because no matter how cool it would be to work at a place that’s trying to cure cancer or whatever, I know it’s not for me.

But being a writer isn’t easy. It’s a career that takes time, patience, hard work, and luck to build up on. It can also be a lonely path. After university, I’ll be dodging annoying questions full-time and all my writer friends will be all the way in England. I don’t know very many writers on this side of the pond, and even when I’m at school, writing can be a very isolating task. Everything that happens goes on in your head, and there are things happening in everyone else’s heads that you don’t know about. There’s no instant gratification to this kind of work. My first novel, which you all know as Book 1, has never had a second draft. It’s five years old. I think I may have given up on it a few weeks ago, too, which is weird. Of all the stories I’ve written and scrapped, I never thought that would become one of them. It was the one that made me realize I liked writing.

So yes, I still live with my parents, although never both at the same time anymore. No, I don’t have a steady paying job, although if I were ever desperate, my local fast food restaurant always seems to be hiring. And you know what? I’m twenty. Maybe in other careers I would need to get a move on and gain experience before graduating so I have a resume that can compete with all the other applicants for an entry-level job.

As a writer, however, time is on my side. The more I write, the more I improve. If I try to hand in Book 1 in the state it’s currently in, as my sister suggested yesterday, I would be blacklisted from the publishing industry and would have to change my name and move to yet another (hopefully English-speaking) country. If I tried for a job, the competitors I would need to worry about are the ones with the highest skill and most experience, regardless of how young they are. So maybe I won’t hit the ground running. Maybe things won’t work out for me for a long while. But it’s okay. I’ve got time.

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