Why I Still Apologize to My Parents for Being a Writer

Writing Books
Photo by Dullhunk via Flickr

Occasionally, I am forced to question my life and all the decisions I’ve ever made and after reading this disappointing article about the plight of authors in the U.K., I was ready to throw in the towel.  I’m just not cut out to be the next James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, I can’t mass produce (or pretend to mass produce in the case of James) books.  Noticing I was having a crisis, my mother did what any reasonable person would, she encouraged me to call my aunt who was an H.R. specialist about any openings at her company.  See, problem solved.

Just the idea of lying, I mean, exaggerating my way through another interview was not an option.  My last job interview ended in disaster, when I was asked by the HR manager what my dream job was, and I answered: writer.  P.S.  I was applying for an admin job.

Instead of arguing with my parents, I have learned to just apologize.  It saves time.  Here are just some of the things I have to apologize for…

Reason #1:  I Walked Away from a Good Okay Job

I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s face when I announced I was going to be a writer.  The forced smiles and the crack in my mother’s voice when she asked, “So who you gonna write for?”  When I told them I was going to start freelancing, those smiles became even more strained.

You see, when I was 17, I thought I wanted to write and even took a few adult writing classes but was told it was impossible to make a living as an author.  So, after high school, I took computer classes (to everyone’s relief) and learned everything you could about Microsoft products.

P.S. I never bothered showing up on graduation day.

P.S.S. I still couldn’t find work even with my new skills. Apparently, you need to have 5 years of experience to get an entry level job.  Funny, they never mentioned that in school!

I wound up getting a crappy office job making $1 more than the people at McDonald’s.  Whenever I would complain, my dad would say, “Well, it’s better than nothing!”  But in actuality, if I had just crunched the numbers, I would have discovered that I’d been better off on unemployment.  At least then, I could’ve had 24hrs I needed to build my business and would’ve been paid by the government to do it!

Reason #2:  I Can’t Even Sell My Own Book!

Not long ago, I found myself telling someone not to buy my book even though that person was my target audience.  Keep in mind, I’ve created online ads, done book tours, and even did interviews but I just can’t bring myself to scream, “Buy my book!” at unsuspecting people like a crazy old bag lady.

Reason 3:  I’ll Probably End up on Government Assistance 

Recently, on Facebook the question was asked, “What one piece of advice do you wish someone had shared with you before you started to write?”  Answers included things like:

1.     “Don’t do it for the money”

2.     “Run!”

3.     “Don’t quit your day job”

4.     “Have a backup plan career wise.”

Notice how it was all money related?  Even authors who were doing well decades ago, are having a hard time making money these days.  With no advances, small royalties, and no control, traditional publishing is becoming an impossible environment.  Back in the day, authors were selected and groomed for the industry but now, I face the same mentality I did during the recession, which is: “What have you done (sold) already?”

Reason #4:  I Talk Like I’m Crazy!

This past summer I was interviewed on a podcast where we discussed character development and intuitive writing.  The host asked, “Did you ever have one of your characters just take over?”  Me being me, answered, “Of course, sometimes I have to fight with them.”

Yeah, nobody will use that one against me in a mental competency trial!

In Closing…

There’s plenty more I need to apologize for like blogging when I should be working on my novel.  However, the fact of the matter is, I’m not sorry, never was.  If this turns out to be some silly pipe dream then I’m okay with it.  The biggest crime any dreamer can commit is wasting time, whether it be in a cubicle in corporate America, or in relationship that’s long dead.  Forbes did an article called 25 Biggest Regrets in Life and most of the people surveyed regretted not trying things that really matter to them.

Granted, no one wants be Don Quixote who comically fought the windmill, but don’t forget, he originally set out to restore chivalry.  Yearning for the days of knights, damsels and dragons he left it all behind to search for something he felt was lost.  And like Don Quixote, we all long to be something more, right?

So back to you, what are you apologizing for?


  1. I understand where you’re coming from. I, too, always wanted to write fiction. In high school I wrote for the school newspaper, and teachers told me I had some talent with fiction, but I heard what you did about it not being a practical career move—and one must eat, after all. So I put it aside as a childish fantasy, and I got a degree and a job, which I endured for 30 years and left as soon as it yielded a pension I could live on. What I regret is that I did not continue to write as a hobby. That, I think, is how it must be pursued, at least at first. Yes, in the real world one needs a paying job, but don’t stop writing.
    (Note: I escaped from wage-slave servitude in 2011 and have since written 5 self-published books. I’m working on another. It’s a great hobby. I wish I had taken it up earlier.)

    • Wow, you’re already on #6? I gotta catch up! I as well regret not pursuing writing as a hobby, maybe it would have made the day job more bearable?

  2. I have always wanted to write. Even when I was tiny, I made up stories. It came naturally to me. I went to college, married & had 2 children in less than 3 years. I taught for just over 3 years & moved to Florida. When we got here, we realized we’d spend more on child care than I could make, so I didn’t work full time. I’ve been out of the open job market (except for the occasional substitute teaching gig) for 25 years. I have no resume, no current skills, no interview answers.

    When I first started writing, hubby was behind it. He hoped I would make good money. I haven’t. I’ve made a little, but not stellar. Being a full time author, one really does it for love. My health is such that a full or even part time job, would be very hard to keep. That doesn’t stop my family from saying, “You know where you should get a job. . . .?”

    • I know, my mom told me the thrift store near her house was hiring last month LOL! They just don’t get it. Money isn’t important to me, or I would’ve been a doctor. But I don’t get upset anymore, it’s just not worth it, now I tell them, “Sorry, I’m an artist and there is no cure for it.” 😀

      • I was offered money to write book reviews and evaluate manuscripts recently. When I told my wife I turned it down, she asked, “What’s wrong with you?” As far as I can tell, nothing. If I wanted to make money doing something other than writing novels I would, but I don’t. I still write reviews, and I’ll provide comments on manuscripts on occasion, but I won’t do it for money. That makes in an obligation, which takes a lot of the fun out of it…. Okay, maybe there is something wrong with me.

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