August 21, 2011

WRITING ADVICE – Kristine Kathryn Rusch #2: “Postponing Your Dreams”

I first ran across the work of Kristine Kathryn Rusch when her named appeared on the bottom of a standard rejection form I got from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, where she was head editor for several years. A short time later, I ran across one of her short stories (“Retrieval Artist” in the June 2000 ANALOG), which of course, led me t0 her RETRIEVAL ARTIST novels. I’m a fan now and started reading her blog a year or so ago. As always, I look for good writing advice to pass on to you as well as applying it to my own writing. I have her permission to quote from the articles. You can find the complete article referenced below, here: 2009/11/26/freelancers-survival-guide-postponing-your-dreams/

“By the time Baby Boomers realized they weren’t doing what they wanted to do, that they were running out of time to make a real difference in the world, to follow their passion…they [we]re embarking on a career that can take ten years to ramp up…

“I’ve watched others who have postponed their dreams struggle with years of learned behavior…The feeling that anything is possible that you had in your twenties is gone. As a middle-aged adult, you know that some things are no longer possible…Postponing your dreams is a dangerous thing to do. Because time does eventually run out. In order to freelance, you need to learn how to take risks…freelancers can’t survive without it…What most people who postpone their dreams fail to realize is that when they retire, they might have the time to work on their dreams full time, but they might not have the time to achieve them.

“So many people postponed their dreams because they felt they had something to lose…They could…risk the fortunes of everyone they love, not just their own fortunes.”

Dire and dark. Dark and dire.


I cannot shake the feeling that a Ringwraith is standing behind me in the bus, breathing cavern-cold breath on my neck. The hairs of someone who is prey rise up both to protect from the sudden drop in temperature – and in order to make me look larger to the Wraith so that it might think twice about swallowing me.

And yet while I have no track record compared to Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her husband, I have still been paid for my writing. I am still a professional writer. It’s just that I am not a full-time professional writer.


I have been accused of being a “hobby writer”. “Hobby” and its accompanying sesquipedalian “avocation” are (no matter how respectfully you say them) condescending – and not even true. You could call Benjamin Franklin a hobby politician or just as easily have said that inventing stuff was his avocation.

“But, but, but…” you might stammer. “That was then! This is now!” All right then, I have a good friend who once played NFL football for the Seattle Seahawks and the Buffalo Bills. That wasn’t all he did. You could have called him a hobby clinical pathologist as well or said that his avocation was playing for the NFL.

I have been working at creating more and more of my income through my writing and its allied professions. For example, my current income-related writing is around $10,000/year. That is because in addition to my publications, I also travel as a speaker/teacher to Young Author’s Conferences and teach both in the summer and as a writing coach. I have also been a Writer in Residence in my home state. My income that could be directly connected to writing was higher in those days. As I build my career, the number of published pieces increases and my royalties increase as well.

Will I be among the best-paid authors like James Patterson, Stephen King, Stephanie Meyers, JK Rowling? Most likely not, but I’m not going to rule it out, either. I won’t be taking out a loan to buy that new 2012 Jaguar XJ. But I will write as if I’m going to move into their ranks. I will continue to scribble ideas at odd times and in odd places. I will keep my eye on e-publishing as people do new and innovative things, but I will also peek around the corners of high school libraries, county libraries, independent bookstores, and root around in the plywood shelving of the neighborhood Half-Price Books as well as sip lattes at Barnes & Noble whilst thumbing FORBES.

Realistic writing like this is what INSPIRES me and while my dreams may not be grandiose, I am still working them, still having them and still believing them.

Comments from anyone reading this?


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