In three weeks time, I’ll be completely free.
After seventeen years in full-time education, I finally pack my bags and head back home from the University of Birmingham, where I’m finishing up my English with Creative Writing degree programme. I’ve enjoyed my time there and learned a lot of life lessons, so it’s safe to say I’ve no regrets.
That said, I’m ready to leave.
For the last two years, I’ve juggled my fiction writing/blogging/marketing with my degree. Neither have suffered for my extended commitments, except perhaps my sanity (joke — I’ve never been sane). However, as scary and daunting as finishing up and leaving for the real world is, I could not be more excited.
On June 1st, I begin my full-time career of making stuff up and writing for a living.
I’ve thought long and hard about where I want to go in the future. I’ve contemplated journalism, with fiction on the side. I’ve thought about graduate programmes and masters degrees, but all of those would really just be delaying what I believe is my true calling: writing and publishing fiction for a living.
Don’t get me wrong — full disclosure and all that — I don’t currently earn enough from my fiction to make a living. That’s no surprise though, really. I only have one novel out and it’s a standalone. Even so, through judicious use of KDP Select, I’ve earned around $1,200 from the book since November, which is probably more like $700 when all costs are taken out. I’ve made enough to fund another novel, and that was my personal goal with this book.
The truth is, when it comes to writing for a living, I don’t have to make mega-bucks to be happy. I’m totally willing to live on the breadline for two years whilst I see out my upcoming projects. I don’t want to go into too much depth just yet but I’ve got a VERY comprehensive map of releases from this day right up until December 2015. Although the publishing landscape will change, probably for better and for worse, these releases will not. If I see out this goal, I’ll have enough good quality books out to call this fantastic little activity a career.
I have a fantastic family who have supported me through every stage of my life and I know they’ll support me in the next step. I know that this will require patience — financial results are never instant with a growing career — but if I follow my set path, I’ll be in a good position at the end of what I’m now dubbing ‘stage 2’ to consider myself writing for a living wage. Stage 1 was launching the first book, selling copies, building an audience; stage 2 is what follows.
The decision to make writing my full-time activity (I refuse to call it a job) wasn’t easy. I’m well aware that writing for a living isn’t a click of the fingers thing and that I’ll have to pursue part-time employment every now and then to make ends meet. Regardless, I totally believe in myself and know that if I can just commit to a few thousand words per day, this will only be a temporary scenario.
KBoards has been a great source of encouragement lately. Over there, there’s loads of members writing for a living and sharing their stories. See here and here for two fantastic and inspirational examples.
I’ve realised it isn’t about luck anymore. In the old days, it was: you crossed your fingers to be picked up by a publisher, and even then, success was far from guaranteed. Now, it’s just about creating professional products, and plenty of them. Well, that, and constantly seeking to improve writing craft.
I know I can do that. I will do that.
At the end of this month, I’ll be launching a new book (to be notified as soon as it’s available, click here). I’d like to dedicate it to my family; my friends; all the readers of the website; people who email; reviewers, whether positive or constructively critical; Facebook friends; Twitter people, and so on. Basically, to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me going into this exciting yet terrifying second stage.
Here’s to writing for a living and following dreams.
Who’s with me?
Thanks for the support.