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Thursday, 7 February 2019

Yes, but what's your real job..?


In my experience most people automatically assume that being a writer isn't actually a real job. Even when I tell them I write every day, for at least six hours a day, more than half the people I talk to, will still ask what my real job is. 

In fact the reaction is often akin to what it would be, if instead of saying I was a writer, I claimed to be a fairy charmer or a dietician for frogs. On the whole, people just don't get it. Perhaps because of the fantasy (excuse the pun) surrounding the concept of being a writer (see previous post) or perhaps because it seems a tenuous way to make money...

And in truth they're not far wrong. With royalties literally only pennies on every book sold, it takes thousands of sales to be able to buy a round at the pub, and yet, there is money to be made. 

One of the ways is in ghost writing, or in writing commissioned articles for magazines, either online or in print. There are well paid jobs in copy writing and/or editing, so if you're not fussed whether you write about a new-to-market car, or the latest restaurant, or how to rid yourself of the misery of piles, or any number of things that magazines publish, you can have a job for life. 

The trouble with this sort of writing however, is that it's all slanted towards making the average consumer lust after the subject of your article. This sort of writing is rich in flashy adjectives which often imply that a person will be sexier, more beautiful, richer in life, thinner, sleeker, more intelligent, if only he or she will buy/use/spend /try/give,  etc., etc., etc... And come on, we all know the reality of that, don't we? 

Another problem that writers can face is in connecting with others. It's a dog-eat-dog world in writing, so chatting to another author can become a bit of a competition. They tell you how many books they've written and how successful they are, and you reciprocate. 

You're both cautious when discussing your WIP (work in progress) because there's a chance that 1. this person might steal your idea, 2. this person might ridicule your idea, 3. this person might suggest there is no value in your idea, since the concept has already been written about in a book they will name by an author you've never heard of, and 4. this person might actually like your idea and therefore tell others about it, leading to numbers 1-3 above. 

So connecting with other authors has to be done carefully. 

Quite recently I found myself in one such scenario, and on exiting the building where we had met, I let out a huge sigh of relief ,and then allowed my self to laugh at how silly I felt at having to skirt around the topic of my WIP, whilst she did exactly the same thing. 

We were like boxers in a ring who never landed a single punch. 

But funny as it seems, it's deadly serious too. I know of two production companies who are adamant that their productions have been ripped off by another company. Easily done, when agents, publishers, film directors, producers and TV companies insist that they want to see a whole script before making a decision. 

Of course you can pay for copyright and registration of your work, but like everything in life, that requires money. Whilst relatively inexpensive per script, try doing it with thirty books or scripts. And of course, should you be plagiarised even so, it takes seriously big bucks to drive these cases through court. 

So remember, as they used to say in the war - "Loose lips sink ships," and keep those great ideas to yourself!

Happy reading!


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