1857 is a podcast by one of my good friends and I was listening to it over the weekend, while doing some knitting. (This was my attempt to make my brain shut up and allow me to chill.) The episode was on when hobbies become jobs, and if they do, will they lose their appeal. Give it a listen.
It struck me as apposite, because I had a 'proper job' (i.e. one that paid me a decent wage and a pension) and I gave it up, mostly because it had pushed me into a breakdown but partly because I wanted to do 'my dream job' which was writing. And while I was doing the proper job, writing was a hobby.
Is writing still my dream?
Well, eleven books on and I'm still doing it. And luckily I'm in the fortunate position of not needing to go back to having a 'proper job' because all those years of working allowed me to squirrel away money. Which is good, because writing doesn't even cover its costs, never mind actually let me earn anything!
Some days, it's a fabulous lifestyle. I lose myself in the worlds I'm creating, talk away to the people I made up, and time just flows. On days like that, I feel like the luckiest person alive.
Other days, it's hell. As Stu and TJ contemplate in the podcast, as soon as you start monetising something, it stops being a hobby and starts being stressful. I can feel as if I'm on a treadmill and not always writing what I want to write.
I think I need to go back to having more fun with my writing and write stuff just for me. (Of course, in many ways, that's kind of what I did... I wrote The Guardians of The Realm series for me, because I wanted to read something just like it and found nothing out there that was quite right. I hadn't realised at the time that I had such unique taste...)
The quandary I feel I face is that what I want to write isn't what other people want to buy. Which is a bit of a bugger when you turn your passion into a job. What sells like hot cakes in the urban fantasy world right now are a whole series of things that I personally don't enjoy reading and couldn't write.
I'm currently deep into edits, but once they go off to my editor at the start of next month, I think I might take some time to write stuff that I enjoy. It'll probably never be published. But the passion is feeling too much like an unpaid job right now, and I am a terrible boss.