Reflections on being a Working Writer

Posted on May 9, 2010


Working writers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In my case, it is a short, aging, greying package with a sadly expanding waistline. Bit of a contrast there with say the decidedly glamorous Tara Moss! But writers come in different flavours in the type of writing they do as well. The writers who have their names emblazoned on things are just one facet of the overall occupation.

For many of us, being a working writer means picking up what work you can, extending your repertoire into different fields and endeavours. As I type this entry, I am still waiting on news of whether or not I am going to be picking up work as a technical writer, which can be a decidedly useful paying gig. I recently began work editing a small newsletter. It does not pay a great deal, but it is income of a sort and in many respects, more importantly it extends that experience set and overall portfolio. When we are still at the earlier part of our career, I believe that what a job pays is only one consideration. We also need to think ‘what does this job do for me, what experience does it give me?’

I was also recently sounded out about possibly doing some paid copy editing working on a manuscript. I continue to do a bit of freelance non-fiction writing here and there.

This sort of work is hardly glamorous but it helps pay the bills and allows me to continue say, “Hi, I’m Ross, a Working Writer.”

My real love is writing fiction, telling stories primarily in the speculative fiction realm (sci fi, fantasy and horror). Yes, I have fiction published. No, I have not been having a lot of success of late, but I have been pitching my work to better paying markets, seeing how they respond as a form of measuring stick about how my writing may or may not have improved. I am getting increasing numbers of “really liked the story but not quite right for us at this time – please send us more” rejections. While it is frustrating to be told that someone likes your story but not enough to actually publish, at the same time being encouraged to keep sending material in is an indication that I have developed my craft sufficiently to be at least gaining their attention for the right reasons. That in itself is encouragement to keep on going.

In the meantime, I can continue to plug away at being simply a Working Writer. After all, that is what my dream is and I have started to realise it.

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