Mark Terry

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This Writing Life

April 16, 2009
It occurred to me that the title of this blog is "This Writing Life." Okay, kidding. I knew that. Here's the train of thought:

My oldest son for a while--he's 15, this comes and goes--wanted to be a high school band director. Then, for whatever reason, we went on the high school marching band trip to Disney World and he came back and decided that, no, he no longer wanted to be a high school band director. (I'm not quite sure what the disconnect was, but I think he saw it as a nightmare for the band directors, which is interesting. I would argue that the head band director was having a good time with his family, although having talked to him Tuesday  it's obvious that his stress level has all but disappeared since the Disney trip; the middle school band director was only okay about it, but I think he had personal things going on simultaneously; the other high school band director didn't act like he was having a good time at all. It may be outside his comfort zone. I don't know why, maybe I'll ask him, since he's also my guitar teacher).

Currently, and this isn't the first time, Ian's thinking about history and international relations and political science.

Which would be interesting and exciting. I'll be supportive of whatever he wants to do. It's his life, he has to live with the decisions he makes, not me.

But I suspect it's going to come back to writing. Because unlike the music thing, which he enjoys but has to be nagged to practice his instruments, Ian writes on his own almost every day. And for his age, he's pretty good. He has a distinct voice and his ideas are good. His execution, well, he's 15 and it shows, but I think he can overcome that if he worked at it.

I also wonder about both my sons getting out in the working world as adults and then thinking, "Wow, this isn't anything like my Dad's life." Right. Dad commutes about 15 steps, doesn't have a dress code, goes to the gym every day, has time to do kid pickup or drop-off and occasionally chaperone various school events. Dad, unlike Mom, doesn't bitch about work much. Mom bitches about the people she works with all the time. And when they're in the working world, they probably will, too.

Only time will tell.

Anyway, there's a point here. What I was thinking after this was, you know, if you're a person that likes to write--not just having written, but actually likes the physical act of writing--and likes or loves to read (anything and everything), then writing for a living is a fantastic gig.

Yeah, it's got its headaches. No health insurance, no paid vacation, no retirement plan, the money comes and goes, dealing with the publishing industry can be a pain, editors apparently keep their jobs just about as long as fast food workers do, and publishers change their priorities constantly...

But you know what? I love it and it's great.

I don't think it's for everybody. You've got to have some hustle and some tolerance for uncertainty.

But for me, it's been awesome.

Mark Terry


Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I generally pray none of my children works for the Man. Life is WAY to short. So far, I have one musician (no "Man" in sight for that one), one aspiring math professor, one aspiring filmmaker, and a Demon Baby who aspires to destroy the world.

The writing gig has stressed me lately. A lot. But I have two releases in the next eight weeks so I'm kind of sitting back and thinking, "Yeah. But it's all good."

12:24 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I think it just depends. Some people work happily in an office or in a business or whatever. Either they don't want the headache of self-employment or they like to have people around them or they like the structure and security. I think that's fine, although I don't doubt anybody who had a stay-at-home-working parent might wonder when they're listening to people get into fights over who made coffee last.

I was asked by my doctor this week how the writing business was going and I said good, I was busy. Then I sort of killed that comment by saying I didn't think 2009 was going to be a particularly good year. They're both true, I think, although I hope I'm wrong about 2009 in general. My regular clients seem to be keeping me busy, but I'm a little concerned about how difficult it's been bringing on new clients. So my income is okay, work is okay, I'm busy, but I'm not 100% confident that there's a cushion of new work to rely on. Make sense?

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I think that if your sons grow up seeing working for oneself as a normal way to live, rather than getting the idea that it is just natural and normal and necessary to punch a clock, then you've given them a tremendous gift. Whether they write or not is less important.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I suspect so. The very notion of being self-employed seemed terribly foreign to me. But I can increasingly understand people who have run business after business. There's something about being self-employed that suggests--to me at least--that if it doesn't work out, you just try again ... not necessarily go back and work for someone else, at least not permanently.

4:06 PM  

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