I could be doing any number of other things right now. I could make an honest attempt at a medical degree with which I could help heal the sick. I could get a high paying job, squirrel money away, buy a sail boat and become a full-time blue water sailor. I could sell dope or get high or make an effort toward increasing my resume of Face Book friends. I could run for congress or run a marathon or open a brothel. I could be just another Nobody from Nowhereville. One in 7 billion.
But I’m not doing that. Instead, I’m writing.
Writing isn’t hard work. It isn’t hard work like ditch digging is hard work. It isn’t mentally taxing like rocket science. In fact, if I could actually make a living just writing I would feel as if I had played the system, that I was crafty enough to pay my dues without trying too hard. “The world owes me a living”, that would be my song.
Speaking of songs, do you remember a song by the Dire Straights called “Money for Nothing” where the narrator of the song regrets not having learned to ‘play the guitar, play the drums, that ain’t working, that’s the way you do it, your money for nothing and your chicks for free’? Sometimes I think that way about writers who make a living writing; minus the free chicks.
I’m not saying writing is a walk in the park. There is a lot of effort that goes into research, editing, rewriting, Etc. There is a lot of stress that is often hinged upon fear of Writer’s Block, not to mention the stress of not having a steady, reliable income. But at the end of the day, when that royalty checks roll in, I think I would feel a bit guilty. My aches and pains wouldn’t come from suffering for the greater good; wrenching heavy machinery all day, or hauling logs, or even a ten hour shift waiting on tables. Instead my back would ache from being hunched over the computer, my fingers would be sore from punching keys, the tips would smart from paper cuts. No wonder Hemingway drank so much!
Maybe it’s just the idea that only a fortunate few can make a living creating and being creative, and maybe I don’t think that I deserve that or that ‘chances are’ I would not be so fortunate. Despite the lack of suffering for the greater good (at least in a way that is widely accepted as proper suffering) there is a place –NO- a need for artists and poets and even… novelists. Someone has to do it. Why not me?
-D. Gage (I decided to pull out my old pen name)