Though I’m a writer in my heart, and supporting myself through my craft (whatever that looks like) is my ultimate goal, I’m a high school English teacher by day and have been for seven years. I love my work. I do. But as I sit here on an average Tuesday evening, eyes crossed with tiredness, blood stream trilling with copious quantities of coping caffeine, trying to muster up the focus, or even the energy, let alone the courage to go back to revising my dauntingly long and unwieldy novel in progress, I think of the great writer and writing teacher John Gardner who in On Becoming a Novelist said this:
“While one is learning one’s craft, then practicing it and hunting for an agent, then waiting for mail with the agent’s return address, one must somehow make a living…the writer will have to find a job. Almost all full time jobs are hard on writing…also, I cannot work on a novel if I do not have long time blocks for writing–fifteen hours straight is for me ideal. Trying to nickel and dime your way through a five hundred page novel can drive you crazy. Some writers, in hopes of solving such problems, take work as fire watchers and sit alone in high lookout posts, occasionally glancing at the horizon. Theoretically that ought to be an ideal situation, but in practice it’s a pain because the CB never quits. Jobs as night watchman or night hotel clerk are not much butter, and trying to earn a living by teaching high school is much worse–nothing is more draining.”
You ever have that feeling when you read something that the writer is not only talking to you directly, but that he’s right beside you whispering in your ear?
And he’s wrong. It’s seven-hundred pages.