Mark Terry

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

5 Years From Now...

February 11, 2010
I've been thinking about 5 years from now. Mostly because I'm working on a project that's sort of annoying me as well as sucking up most of my time and I--aside from the money--wish I was doing something else. And at least part of my brain is saying, "I really hope you don't do this kind of stuff for the rest of your career."

To be true, there's another part of my brain, the part that has less to do with what I want emotionally, but tends to be more rational, realizes that I'm doing some pretty lucrative stuff and one of the reasons it's lucrative is that it's difficult; it's also fairly lucrative because it's difficult in a particular area, and although it's sometimes hard to see the picture from inside the frame, I am pretty much an expert on this particular area and there just aren't that many of us out there with the same skill-set of writing ability, research habits, knowledge of the field, and inclination (or financial need).

Nonetheless, I reflected on the fact that 5 years ago, when I went full-time, I was mostly writing for trade journals. I still write for some trade journals, but not nearly as much as I was 5 years ago. Now it's mostly market research reports with some novel writing, some technical editing, some newsletter stuff, and ghostwriting/collaborating on a nonfiction book. Writing careers evolve.

So where do I want to be in 5 years?

I'm just superstitious enough to not want to jinx myself by saying, "I hope I never do another market research report."

Because they're interesting, they pay well, and I'm fairly good at them. And because, you know, I'm 46 and hope to continue as a freelance writer for the next 20 or 30 years or so, I see no reason to shut myself off from some types of writing. I couldn't have imagined doing this ten years ago, so who knows what I'll do in the next 5 or 10?

That said, I hope I'm doing more book writing, more ghosting, more novel-writing, and yet, making the same kind of money or better. (Better would be good).

And although the collaborating on the nonfiction book is sort of a pain because of how we worked out the financial end of things (in other words, I got paid pretty well to write the proposal, but the contract didn't really lend itself to an advance, but we more than made up for it on the back-end, or I did, anyway), I very much wanted it in my portfolio. Because being able to advertise yourself as a ghostwriter/collaborator for nonfiction books--especially in the areas of business, medicine, or both--strikes me as being a good thing to advertise. And my collaborators are already talking about a follow-up (although I keep putting the reins on them, since this book isn't anywhere near being finished).

And I want the novels to make more money, sell more copies, get more subrights, and etc., etc.

I know most of you are harnessed to the fiction wagon, so your 5-year goals probably have something to do with making a living writing novels, and I'd be pleased with that, too. You can share it with me if you want.

But mostly I think you should look at where your writing is today versus where it was 5 years ago, then think about what it might be like in 5 years.

Thoughts?

9 Comments:

Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I've done a lot of fiction, some of which has sold. I've written a lot on my blog (which doesn't make money but has taught me a lot). That's dying down though since it doesn't pay. I do a little tech/help text writing. I'd like to do more. I like that stuff, weird me.

5 years, I'd like to be my major money maker novels. I'm not, though, the breadwinner for my family, so I have breathing room.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I can't help but thinking of what old baseball manager Casey Stengel once said, when talking about his team at spring training (I think it was)

"I got a kid, Greg Goosen, he's nineteen years old and in ten years he's got a chance to be twenty-nine."

Which is to say, in five years I look forward to being able to sign up for Medicare.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

Hmm, last five years aren't exactly impressive, for me. I'm making a little more money, a nice bit from royalties (which I really like), but I haven't exactly done anything new. Hopefully I've gotten better at writing.

That leaves the next five years... I just hope to be debt free, in a bigger camper with no leaks, with enough money to go to Guatemala for the summers. I'd like to go to Vegas for Christmas and do the Venetian wedding we always hoped to do. I'd like to be making enough from royalties and advances or serial payments that I don't have to write so fast and can spend more time volunteering.

And I want to go to Disney World and the new Harry Potter park. (All that really relates to writing, I swear.)

9:18 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Sex Scenes--I haven't been as active on the blog lately because I'm just totally buried in work and finding time to finish the paying stuff is coming up in short supply. Something had to give, and at the moment it's the blog, fiction writing, and TV.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Eric--my wife and I were just talking about not being inclined to retire (too many cases of our parents getting sick or having dementia) because it makes you nutty. I said I don't see any reason to retire if my health remains good. Granted, it's easier to say that when you're 46 than when you're 65. I might just want to take it easy, although maybe it'll be more a matter of being able to take some time off to travel or visit my kids or something.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Natasha, it's not so much "impressive" change as whether there has been change. You've certainly had a big change in the last year. Who knows where your writing will be in 5 years.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Five years from now I'd like to be working on the 5th Nicholas Colt novel. :)

7:03 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Jude, I am working my way through your ms. I'm just swamped with work, so it's taking me a while.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Five years from now I'll be retired.

I'm a couple months short of 67 right now and I am mentally targeting age 70 for retirement from my current employment... thus, retirement sometime in 2013. (That's partly driven by the requirement for mandatory withdrawals from 401(k) type plans.) I had always assumed that once I retired from full-time work I would do something part-time (do some consulting, so some teaching as adjunct faculty, whatever... but having pushed retirement from my present job out that far, I'm beginning to think that I might not seek out a part-time job.

I've got so many things I would like to do that I just do not have time for today... and, yes, that includes writing.

8:50 AM  

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