In my post yesterday, I got a lengthy anonymous response which was really interesting, particularly the part about people who want to write but aren’t even casual readers (it doesn’t strike me as impossible but not taking part in the creative overmind seems like it might make some aspects tougher). Agent Jonathan responded today in that thread, and I agree completely with his comment:
Most publishing professionals feel the same way as me. Almost all could be making more money and working less hours in another profession. But they don’t because they love their work.
Agent Jonathan speaks from passion and I applaud. I love being a literary agent. I did not go to college planning on being one, though I loved books and reading and knew that I wanted to be involved in publishing. When I ended up working at DMLA, the role was a perfect fit. It’s me. And no matter how challenging some aspects of it can be or the day-to-day stuff that might bog me down (and about which I might talk too much), it’s what I want to be when I grow up — except I’m not growing up, so I’ll just be it now. I know loving what you do is more rare than it should be in this world, so I’ll count myself one of the lucky ones.
Hear, hear! That’s all true about my job, too.
And may I say, that I’m very glad that you love what you do.
Are you familiar with Todd Snider’s song “The Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern”? In it, an old lady bartender tells the narrator:
“Life ain’t easy getting through everybody’s gonna make things tough on you
But I can tell you right now if you dig what you do, they will never get you down”
By the end of the song, the narrator has seen the wisdom:
“Now the nights are long
The driving’s tough
Hotels stink, and the pay sucks
But I can’t dig what I do enough, so it never gets me down”
I’m glad that’s how it is for you, because that really is a gift.
I think it’s so great when an agent says that they love what they do. It shows writers that they are there to help develop careers.
I plan to be doing what I love in just a short while. :*)
I don’t understand people who write just because they “want to write.” I mean the hobbyists. The people who don’t read, but think they should write a book because it seems like a thing to do. I don’t write any idea that doesn’t hound me until I can’t even sleep.
I forget who said it, but my favorite quote about writing:
“If you can quit, do.”
I do get it somewhat — if what they want to be is a hobbyist. Frex, I do a lot of cooking but I don’t want to work as a chef (even though more than one person has suggested catering as a second career to me).
A writer learns from life, so even when you have to have a “day job” while moving ahead with writing, you’re still working on writing. That doesn’t even mean you have to hate the day job either. is also an it professional as well as being Patricia Bray, the author of Devlin’s Honor, etc. She loves what she does during the day (most of the time) and is driven to write too. Thank God! If she wasn’t my shelves would be much more bare. I’d still read everything I could get my hands on, but not everything gets the honor of being part of the permanent collection. I reserve shelf space for those beloved stories I read over and over.
As one of the lucky ones, I can confirm that you speak truth. 🙂
I know loving what you do is more rare than it should be in this world, so I’ll count myself one of the lucky ones.
Which is why I too feel lucky, both with my teaching and with my writing.
“I know loving what you do is more rare than it should be in this world, so I’ll count myself one of the lucky ones.”
This is very true, and I completely agree — I could be doing other things for more money and fewer hours, but I love my (day) job and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
loving what you do
Writers have no need to worry about the hobbyists, or even the people who write because they think its “cool”. People who learn a thing can never hope to compete with the person who passionately is it.
The passionate person works longer hours, invests more heart and just doesn’t quit. The other person takes days off, leaves it behind to go on vacation, observes all government holidays and is always watching the passionate person invent something new.
That’s a GREAT bit of conversation between anonymous and Jonathan – thanks for posting it.
For what it’s worth, I totally wouldn’t mind getting paid more for this, though 😉
FWIW, I wish egnts & editors & the whole publishing industry in general was more financially rewarding too. (My bookworm 11yo has just decided she’ll be an editor when she grows up, can’t blame me for hoping she doesn’t starve in getting there.)
That’s adorable 🙂