Monday, 22 March 2010

Your Dream Job vs Reality

I was trawling message boards today when I came across this post.

I can't consider writing a hobby. It's my chosen profession that I don't happen to be making any money from yet.

I'm working on a screenplay, and have ideas for several more, but it's hard to imagine getting into the business of film. I don't want to rewrite somebody else's work, use somebody else's idea, or adapt somebody else's novel; I just want to write my own original scripts. I also don't want to have to deliver a pitch. I realize all that makes it phenominally unlikely that anything I write will ever be produced.
Many people wish they could change careers, and lets face it, the majority of jobs today aren't exactly fulfilling. Most workers sit at a desk/computer/phone from 9 till 5, day in, day out, with little appreciation for what they do.

But some of those people also have a dream of doing something else, something that's probably only a hobby at the moment. The list is endless, but things like flower arranging, painting, writing, dress making and dog breeding. If only they had the resources or were given the opportunity, they'd jump at it.

And so many of them will find themselves disappointed because the reality fails to live up to their dreams.

When something is a hobby, you only see the good parts of it like the artistry of painting, the creativity of writing or the cute puppies of breeding. When you make something your career though, it's accompanied by so many other annoyances that have little or nothing to do with what you love.

Painters need to paint what sells. No matter how much you enjoy painting old tyres, if there isn't a market of buyers, then you'd better get painting some landscapes or be prepared to join the dole queue.

If you love writing, you'd better be prepared to edit the hell out of your work before you present it for sale. Spelling, grammar, plot, all will probably need a lot more work than you would normally put in to a piece of work.

And then there's the fact you're likely to be self employed. It's up to YOU to sell your work. You have to approach galleries and publishing houses. You have to advertise your pedigree puppies and your flower shop to the world.

Then you have to do your own administration work, do your own bookkeeping, income tax and VAT returns (or be prepared to pay quite a bit for someone else to do them).

In short, when you turn a hobby into your job, you have to be prepared to work at it and to do the grunt work as well as the bits you truly enjoy.

I love writing. I hate editing. I love creating the characters, winding them up and watching them go. I hate administration and filing and book keeping. I love receiving a good review from a reader. I hate receiving a rejection letter.

But I am so lucky to be able to hate those things, because I'm doing what I love. It's worth every paper cut and every second of tedium because when that's done, I get to write.

The poster above is not a professional writer no matter what he tells himself. Unless you're willing to work at it, you're a dabbler, not a professional. If he did lay the ground work (and assuming he's actually any good) one day he would find he was in a position to only write what he wanted.

No matter what your dream job is, no one is going to come along and offer you everything you want on a silver platter. Life just isn't that kind. but work hard, stay with it, and don't lose sight of what it is that you love, and one day you could be living your dream too.

1 comment:

  1. I get that. I love editing and despise writing (although I find I have to write; it's a monkey on my back!). I can do the writing thing (and I do in my job every day) but I'd prefer to edit other peoples' work. That's why I edit for free time and time again and force myself to write even when I don't want to. It pays my bills and opens my life up to be able to do the things I do love.