For a while now I have been asking myself how I can make a career out of my writing. My immediate answer would be to write novels and short stories. However, I am not naive enough to think that that will be able to keep a roof over my head and food in the fridge, not to mention in my tummy, without some other means of supporting myself. So what other skills have I learned over the last four years that will allow me to get a job that I will not absolutely hate but still allow me to write?
My first thought was to teach Creative Writing at the collegiate level. Sounds like a great idea, right? I can talk about writing all day long, and I love to read the work of other writers and give feedback on how to improve it in various ways, so teaching sounded like a great fit. But after talking to several professors, I learned that teaching does not leave you all that much time to write. The committee meetings you have to attend, advising and office hours take up a lot of time, so the only chance you really get to write is while you are on sabbatical, which requires you taking a pay cut and you are only eligible every seven years (at least at most schools). In other words, if your primary love is to write, then they advised that I don’t go into teaching, at least not right away, no matter how rewarding the career is.
Needless to say, my sites shifted to other career choices and settled next, on editing and publishing. This decision was based on all of the workshop classes I had taken over the last few years, but in all honesty I still do not know a whole lot about the industry. After talking to a few professors involved with publishing and people working exclusively in the industry, I know there are not a lot of jobs in literary publishing right now and I was told to think outside the box. To get experience, they advised me to look into corporate publishing and web editing, anything that involves you looking at writing of some kind and editing it. The trick is developing “the eye of a good editor.”
The next question I had to face was whether or not to go to graduate school right away. I have gotten varying levels of advice about this. Some say I should go immediately simply because I should finish all of my schooling before I try to get a job because it will increase my chances. Some say I should go immediately because I want to get it done before I settle down, get married and have kids. Still, others say I should go but to wait a little bit first because the people who excel in a writing program are those who have more life experience and therefore have more they can write about.
No matter what option I end up choosing, whatever path I follow, there is, without a doubt, a way to make money through writing. I have my plan: to write while working in editing and publishing in some format, before going to graduate school. Will my plan actually end up going the way I hope it to? I can’t know for sure, which is why I have backup plans as wel. But, as long as you are dedicated and willing to put in the work, it is possible.