Oct
23
2014

Dream or Oblivion

A Guest Post by Quincy J. Allen

I find myself standing upon the brink of either making a dream come true or the very real possibility of professional oblivion. It’s a peculiar view. Staring into an unknown future is not unlike staring into null-space—that shapeless mass of gray darkness said to drive humans mad should their gaze linger too long. It is entirely likely that I will make the transition to full-time writer within the next year, earning my living by making things up and putting them down on paper. However, I might not.

I can’t imagine a better life, but it’s still a dream.

I live every day with the fact that if what I write between now and then flounders and fizzles out… well, I may find my own momentum and drive fizzling out in its wake. I hope not. I like to think that since I’ve toughed it out this long, I’ll be able to tough it out for another five years or until I can make the transition. It’s hard, though. This life. This hope and effort and meager result after meager result.

There aren’t many careers that are like being a writer. Most professionals earn a wage as they work. The show up, and as each hour ticks by, they accrue their living wage. Sometimes hourly and sometimes as a salary. Most writers, however, work similar hours but then only get to hope they generate income as a result.

Think about that for a minute. If you have an 8 to 5 gig, just imagine going in every day and then wondering whether or not you’ll get paid at the end of two weeks… wondering if someone else might get paid instead.

Would you go back?

Now try doing that for one or two or five or ten years. I’ve been trying to generate real income with my writing for half a decade. I have a good friend who has been at this for over a decade, and he is only now starting to generate any sort of real income. Over the course of my life, I’ve heard people laugh at or even deride those of us who are drawn to the writing profession. I’ve heard the phrase “Writing is easy…” and “Writers are lazy.”

Bullshit.

I’ll put the commitment and staying power of a real writer over just about any other profession. There’s also the simple fact that writers devote their lives to their own ability to create something worth paying for. They don’t rely on others. The folks in an 8 to 5 are frequently working for someone else’s dream. I’m over-simplifying a bit here, but a writer is part entrepreneur, part creator, part businessperson, part boss, part researcher, part analyst, part everything.

So the next time you meet a writer, I mean a full time writer, find out how he or she got there. You may find that not only did they move the mountain to Muhammad, they climbed the damn thing after, and did it all while working an 8 to 5.

Emotional though they may be, writers are as tough as nails and the live their lives staring into an abyss, hoping they’ll make a dream come true.

*   *   *

Quincy J. Allen, a self-proclaimed cross-genre author, has been published in multiple anthologies, magazines, and one omnibus. Chemical Burn, a finalist in the RMFW Colorado Gold Contest, is his first full novel. He made his first pro-sale in 2014 with the story “Jimmy Krinklepot and the White Rebs of Hayberry,” included in WordFire’s A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories. He’s written for the Internet show RadioSteam and his first short story collection Out Through the Attic, came out in 2014 from 7DS Books. His military sci-fi novel Rise of the Thermopylae is due out in 2014 from Twisted Core Press, and Jake Lasater: Blood Curse, a steampunk western fantasy novel, is due out in 2015.

He works part-time as a tech-writer by day, does book design and eBook conversions for WordFire Press by night, and lives in a cozy house in Colorado that he considers his very own sanctuary—think Batcave, but with fewer flying mammals and more sunlight.

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3 Responses

  1. Steve R says:

    Quincy,
    This is a bit late but I want to add my voice. Please keep it up. I enjoy your writing. Really liked your underground railroad story in Steampunk Trails 1. Also saw your steampunk panel at MileHi Con a few weeks back, which was good stuff–I wanted to introduce myself afterwards but you know how crowded that one was! Then I to move on to another room before that got too crowded.
    So anyway, yeah–“keep moving.” Especially forward.

  2. It’s the hard that makes it good. The impossible. What else should I be doing with my time? And yes, part entrepreneur, part analyst, part everything. Including warrior. That Quincy J. Allen…he’s a warrior.

    • Quincy says:

      There’s not doubt we’re all warriors in one form or another, Aaron. It’s like my ex-Lt. Colonel brother used to tell me… “Stay low and keep moving.”

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