April 25, 2011
My writing career is strange. It always has been, I think. I started out wanting to be a novelist, then got successfully sidetracked into nonfiction, now I write damn near everything and make a living at it.
I know a fair number of writers who started out with nonfiction and shifted to fiction. Some who started in fiction and stayed there, and just about every variation possible.
There have been some recent blog posts by John Scalzi and Tobias S. Buckell where they put up graphs showing the mix of their revenue, where it's coming from. Then I compare to what Kristin Luna does for a living - primarily a travel writer, whose blog, Camels & Chocolate wears me out just reading it (in a sorta jealous sorta way). And I look at my friends Erica Orloff, with her mix of mostly fiction and some ghostwriting and nonfiction, and Jon VanZile, who does a lot of paid blogging and editing and ghostwriting, and...
I know an awful lot of writers and one of the things that occurs to me is I get into trouble when I try to emulate someone else's writing career. We're all unique in our writing careers and because writing is such an individual thing that comes out of our experiences, personality and skill set, it's tough to look at, say, JA Konrath, and say, "Hey, I'm going to duplicate his career."
Be yourself, pursue things your own way, and enjoy the twists and turns. I had a good discussion with my brother this weekend - he's a composer and musician and college professor - and his son is pursuing a degree in creative writing and my oldest son is interested in filmmaking and creative writing and digital media arts with the idea of working in TV or film - and I commented that most creative careers don't go in a straight line. My brother commented, "Mine's been more of a spiral and I can't always tell if it's an upward spiral or a downward spiral."
Yeah, no kidding. I often do find myself returning to things I didn't think I would. And going after new things that don't necessarily work out. Some do, some don't.
That's a creative career.