In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.
As I have previously mentioned, my rceent trip to New Zealnd gave me the change to meet a whole new group of awesome writers and fans. I also had a chance to do a reading with a bunch of other authors–including today’s guest, Darian Smith. I loved the excerpt he chose to share with us from his new novel, Currents of Change, which is available on Amazon.com (and burning up the bestseller lists, I hear!) and at selected bookstores. Take it away, Darian!
I must admit, I found this theme of “Paying for our Passion” a little daunting when I heard about it because, let’s be honest, it’s a passion that doesn’t pay and I prefer not to think about that! If you’re a person who gets jazzed about finance or brain surgery (I’ve seen Grey’s Anatomy, I know it happens) then you’re going to make a decent living out of your passion. For writers…not so much. And the irony is that even the little bit that you do make, people feel entitled to take from you (I’ve recently had my first experience of being pirated. Not pleasant but there you go). But whiney as that sounds, writing is my passion and I love doing it.
So yes, most of us pay in order to write—be that with finance, time, sacrifice, or mental health. I’d love to say I have a partner who earns heaps and lets me stay home to write but, for better or worse, I married a fellow writer— so we’re screwed! We’re gonna be card carrying members of Starving Artists R Us! But that’s okay.So in what ways do I actually pay for my passion?
Well the obvious answer is by having a day job. I work for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in a role that I love. I get to connect with people who are dealing with a variety of neuromuscular conditions and to provide support and information to help them on their journey. It’s a cause that’s very close to my heart given that my wife also has muscular dystrophy and I like to think of it as making a positive difference in the world—a “good karma” kind of job. I’ve also been fortunate enough to tie a couple of my writing projects to MDA for fundraising so it’s great to be able to unite two passions in that way.
Less obvious but something I think impacts every writer is mental health. With my background as a counsellor and family therapist, it’s something I’m very conscious of. Writing produces something very personal and then that work – bound up with my dreams and passion and soul—gets thrust out into the world for people to judge. It’s nerve wracking and there’s a certain amount of bravery involved when you don’t know what feedback you’ll get (if any). Most of the writers I know have mentioned struggles with depression at some time or another. That said, writing gives back in this area as well. Positive feedback is a huge high and often a story can help me process emotions and events from my “real” life. Many of my short stories have served me in this way and I’ll be putting out an anthology of these in a couple of months.
Overall, I guess that while I do pay for my passion in many ways, my passion does pay me too. Even if I’m a long way off the J K Rowlings of this world, I get enjoyment, a sense of achievement, and an opportunity to share part of myself with the world every time I do what I do. And that’s pretty cool. I don’t know if the finance guy or the brain surgeon could say they do any better in that regard. I’m glad to say I’m a writer.
Darian Smith writes mainly speculative fiction (fantasy) and lives in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife (who also writes) and their Siamese cat (who doesn’t). His novel, Currents of Change, was recently number 1 on an Amazon bestseller list. He is the winner of the SpecFicNZ/Steam Press manuscript competition and has been a finalist for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards several times.
By day, he works with people who have neuromuscular conditions such as muscular dystrophy or charcot marie tooth disease. He is also a qualified counsellor/family therapist and can be seen – by those very swift with the pause button – on television shows such as Legend of the Seeker and Spartacus.
For more information about Darian and his upcoming work, please check out his website at www.darian-smith.com.