- by Sasha White
There’s been a lot of talk about choices lately, and I’m thrilled. The publishing world is changing, evolving, and it’s opening up so many more opportunities for writers. Opportunities for writers of all levels. It’s important to acknowledge the ‘all levels’ things because too often the mid-career challenges aren’t talked about. There’s plenty of focus on the beginning of your career, and even on the “end” (Hitting the big lists) and how to deal with success, or failure to do so. But there isn’t alot out there in the mid-career range, and right now, with all the changes in publishing, theose of us in the mid -ish area are really starting to feel the crunch. Is what we’re doing enough to keep our careers alive? Should we be trying something different? What about those who want to try something different but they’re scared to because what they are doing is surving, and being safe is better than failing?
When I first decided to pursue a writing career I went at it with everything in me. I was super focussed, determined and very lucky. I happened to be writing erotic before the genre really cycled in as popular. Therefor when I heard New York publishers were looking to start erotic lines I was in the right genre at the right time and things moved fast for me. 2 years after I decided to try to make a career out of writing I quit my full-time job to write full-time because I had contracts for novels lined up, and I couldn’t spare the time to work. I wrote 9 novels (and half a dozen short stories) over the next 2 years, and I was well on my way. Then I pulled back on the writing, and went back to work part-time.
If y’all want to know why I pulled back, I’ll blog about it another time for you, but right now I want to talk about my other job, and how it’s helped my career choices, and writing itself.
What I did full time before I started writing is the same thing I went back to – bartending and waitressing. I’m a 41 year old waitress, and I love it. (Okay, there are times I hate it too, but that’s the same with everything in life.)
What I’m loving about it right now is that I feel I’m actually helping some younger people find their own path in life. You see, I’m forty years old, and I work with a bunch of twentysomethings. Most of them in University and waiting tables to pay their way. Not only does working with them keep me young, but it also helps me with characterization in my stories. The funny thing is that I’ve recently realized that we help each other because they’re getting as much out of our talks about what’s going on in their lives, and life in general, as I am. It shocked me a couple weeks ago when one of the girls I haven’t shared a shift with in a while told me she missed me because I always made her think with my advice. I thought “Advice? I’ve been giving advice?”
Then another girl came up and explained how I’d inspired her to follow her dream of being a singer. She’d tried out for Canadian Idol three times. The first two times she almost made it to Toronto Week, so on the third she’d fully anticipated making it only to have the judges comment on her eyebrows and say some not encouraging things. So she gave up the dream.
That made me sad because she was so passionate about singing, and I think if you’re passionate about something you should follow through on it. We talked a bit about how I got into writing ( how I have no education geared toward it, and it was basically all drive and desire that got me where I was) and I encouraged her. A couple days later she told me she was going for it- and she is. On Sunday night I went to a small private concert she did simply so it could be recorded for a demo/audition reel and I just have to say WOW!! This girl can sing.
I know that singing is a lot like writing in that theres so much more to building a career than talent, but just seeing the light in her eyes, the spring in her step, and the overall glow she had going on made my heart swell. She’s chasing her dream, and knowing that I helped her get back up after her confidence had taken a hit made me take a good hard look at some of my own recent choices. I really think I’ll keep working the night job for as long as I’m physically able because I love being part of so many people’s lives. Not only do they help me keep my characters real, they inspire me to practice what I preach.
You’re never too old to chase a dream, even if it means changing your style, your process, or even the genre you normally write in. If you have a yen to try something new, a dream to chase, then do it!
“Do, or do not. There is no try.”
PS: I tried to embed the clip, but it wouldn’t let me…so GO HERE and watch it. Get inspired.