"How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every operning flower!"
Isaac Watts 1674-1748 "Against Idleness nd Mischief."
I've been so busy lately there's not been much time left over to work on my novel. It seems that every once in awhile I get bogged down with the 'busy stuff' of living a writer's life. For one thing, I'm teaching writing classes two nights a week for the School Board, one night at home in a private workshop and one morning a week with my Memoir's group. This is my 'bread and butter', my 'employment' as a writer. Aside from that I only have my pensions to live on or the occasional (rare) sale of a travel article (peanuts these days!) or the bonus of being invited to do special workshops. (I did a travel writing day at a college which paid super well and I'll be doing a travel writing workshop at the Summer Dreams Festival this summer.) I have also started to do editing on the side as a supplement to my income. Of course, all these tasks, which are necessary to keep the bread on the table (and the wine on the shelf) take up some of your writing time.
Living the writer's life means you do not make very much money and have to be constantly out there looking for ways and means. (Sam has a very good blog right now about how much money writers make on their book sales http://samanthawinston.blogspot.com and questions whether writers should post their work as self promotion. I can tell you travel journalism is paying very poorly right now and a lot of publications expect you to give away your literary treasures which you've toiled hours over. Writers have to promote themselves and for some of us, that's hard to do. And often posting their work on web sites or blogs is a handy tool of reference for potential 'buyers'.) I do make quite a bit on tax refunds every year -- enough to pay for a ticket to my next exotic destination. But in order to collect back tax you have to also pay into it and show you are trying to make a living at your self-employment as a writer.
It's important also for writers to keep in contact with others of like mind, and to be involved in organizations that might help forward your career or at least allow you more contact with people in the 'trade'. I'm on the boards of the Pandora's Poetry Collective, the Theatre in the Raw, and the B.C. Travel Writer's Association. I'm also a member of the Federation of B.C. Writers. The Poetry Collective puts on the Summer Dreams Festival. The BCATW is hosting a gala in May. The FED is having their annual general meeting this weekend so I'm going over to Victoria to attend it. As well, they are offering workshops so I'm taking one on Memoir Writing. You can never learn too much! It's also an opportunity for me to visit my cousins. And a weekend away on the Island is always a treat. (I may even find enough time to visit the Titanic Exhibit at the museum.)
In addition, I attend my weekly critique group, the Scribblers. And this is what keeps me on track with my own writing. When I know I'm up to read, it helps me focus on getting on with my writing. Without this valuable input and influence I'd perhaps never gotten as far as I have with my novel (which is coming close to being finished.) I think it's important for writers to keep in close contact with other writers for support and encouragement. That includes keeping a blog and/or website. I've made valuable contacts with other writers right here on blogspot.
So goes my week these days. Busy as a bee. But it's all for a worthy cause -- money to live on and travel with, camaraderie with other writers and involvement in the arts and media events.
What do you do for your 'busy work'?
A business with an income at its heels
Furnishes always oil for its own wheels."
William Cowper 1731 - 1800 "Retirement" (1782) l 615