There’s a romantic notion that writers spend their time either in coffee shops with a fountain pen in hand, scrawling notes in a beautiful notebook, or locked away in a writing room, with a bookshelf that reaches across one wall, and a view overlooking a stunning garden, full of inspiration. I’ve read statuses and comments telling authors that to be successful, they need to be able to push a book out a month, and spend £1000s on marketing and promotions. However, for me, this is not achievable. Not because I don’t want it, but because it’s simply not practical.
My office varies between sitting on the sofa in the front room or sitting at the dining table in the kitchen. One day, I hope to be able to transform our spare room into a little study, but it will be one that I share with my photographer husband and gaming children since the idea is that we invest in a high-spec PC they are able to use as well. It won’t be a private sanctuary I can hide away in, and I think this is partly why I struggle to make writing a full-time job, even though crafting a novel requires my undivided attention.
The average job is 9-5, Monday-Friday. My husband works longer hours than that, and on top of his day-time job also runs his own photography business. I don’t have what most people consider to be a “day job”, and a lot of people assume that I should be at home playing the good housewife, writing in my spare-time. Those that don’t think a woman’s place is in the kitchen, have the idea that I do write full-time, from the comfort of my own living room. Neither of these are true.
I’m a writer. I have been since 2008, when I got my first freelancing job. Since then I’ve moved onto editing, proofreading, fact-checking, and dabbled with cover design. I set up RW Literary Services, took it down again when I got overloaded, and have recently set it back up taking on even more work. I write for private magazines and websites, as well as “content mill” websites, churning out article after article on a variety of topics. So, yes, as a writer, I work full-time. Sadly, it does not pay enough to be considered a full-time job, nor does it allow me the same hours to work on my novels.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful! I love creating new covers and helping other authors reach their goals. I love promoting my friends, and finding books for readers. However, I wish that I could call myself a novelist, and right now, I don’t believe I can.
The dream of having a library that I can hide away in, spending my days working on the next novel, be it a Charlotte Howard erotic romance or a C.V. Leigh paranormal story, keeps me going. It gives me something to aim for. One day, I will be a full-time novelist. But just lately, I’ve found myself being dragged down with negative thoughts, mainly because of the unhelpful and unachievable goal aspects spewed across social media.
There’s a difference of opinions over whether quick releases are positive or negative on an author’s career. Some claim to be making six-figure salaries by writing, self-editing, and self-publishing a book a month. Personally, I don’t think that’s realistic. Yes, some authors are clean writers and capable of producing quality work in quick time, but not everyone can, and I don’t think it’s fair to tell authors that they should be forgoing an editor and cover designer in order to save money. I’m not saying that because I work as an editor and cover designer, I’m saying it because it’s true. Even with my self-published books, I didn’t work alone. I had a whole host of people working behind the scenes. Even as an editor, I would never think to edit my own book. You should have an unbias opinion and a fresh set of eyes scan over every piece of work that’s going to be read by the public. But, that’s just my opinion.
I don’t think writing a novel a month is going to help my situation anyway. I’m a slow writer, and even slower at editing. I can write a first draft in 20-30 days, but that is just a first draft, and nobody should ever publish a first draft. My debut C.V. Leigh novel, The Change: A Wolves of Faol Hall novel is in the process of being edited, and because it’s a new genre for me, it’s taking a looooong time to get through. In the mean time, my head is full of ideas for new romance novels that I can’t give any attention to because the way my brain works means having to focus on one project at a time, and with RW Literary Services doing quite well, and my romance novels needing to be marketed, I’m already being pulled in several directions, and it is affecting the quality of my writing (shown by the amount of editing my recent books have needed). But, bills need to be paid, and editing a debut novel doesn’t bring in any money at all.
Saying that, I don’t think I’ll give up RW Literary Services even if I become a best-selling author. I’ve quite enjoyed creating digital artwork and expanding my skill-set. I produce images like the above in my downtime when I’m trying to clear my head from everything that’s tumbling around in it. Most of the images, I’ve picked up from commercial-free sites, but a few that I’m working on at the moment are from my husband’s stock.
I write romance as part of my career, and I still hold onto that romantic ideal of sitting in my own library, gazing out across my beautiful garden with bees and butterflies flitting around herbs and fruit trees, while my books make money without needing any help from me. But for now, I’ll have to make do with a laptop, on the sofa, and using my paltry royalties to pay for marketing.