Getting Fired

Over the course of my life, I have been fired from one job, and that was on the day that I quit. I was a baker, working the 2 AM to 9 AM shift. I had just gotten married, and frankly I was tired of only seeing my wife in passing, so I turned in my two weeks notice. The owner fired me on the spot. Life goes on.

Writing novels is completely unlike that. If you take up the job of writer, you will never be fired. You will most likely have to take other jobs at the same time, you will certainly have to curb your budget during the transition from salaried employment to freewheeling novelist, you may even have to depend on the patronage of strangers. If you’re fortunate, your family may be willing and able to carry the extra burden of your fiscal irresponsibility. But no one is ever going to call you into their office, make a few offhand references to your performance reviews, and then show you the door.

Instead, you’re much more likely to starve. That is to say, your sales may suffer for whatever reason, so your publisher might not pick up their option on your contract, and the next publisher might not offer as much of an advance, or the buyers in charge of stocking the distributors might order fewer copies of your next book, until you’re facing a smaller and smaller income stream. And then one day you wake up and realize that you have to get another job, and maybe put this writing thing behind you.

I guess it’s more accurate to say that the only person who can actually fire you from this job is you. They say that writing is some combination of hard work, talent, perseverance and luck, but it’s also possible that you just might not be smart enough to fire that lout at the keyboard.

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