Sunday, 13 May 2012

Don't Give Up the Day Job

Shh!  I’m going to talk about something unmentionable.  It’s something we all have to do it but we don’t really like to talk about it.  Is it the washing up?  No, that’s what dishwashers are for.  Is it going to the toilet?  No, poo is a perfectly acceptable topic for conversation, particularly when you are British and drunk.  Is it sex?  Of course it’s bloody not.  Erotica is a massive seller on Amazon, although I’m not entirely sure that Fifty Shades of Grey is the best colour to chose when writing soft porn but hey, they’ve sold more novels than me so who am I to criticise.

It’s making money.  You see, although we all have dreams of making as much dosh as J K Rowling, last month I made the grand total of £34.71 from my Amazon sales.  Not that I’m complaining, I appreciate it and it will keep me in giant chocolate buttons for a while but I don’t think the Inland Revenue will be hunting me down anytime soon.  The plain fact is, as much as I would love to write full time I can’t afford it as I like having a flat, owning a car and eating every day.   So I have something called a job because otherwise I would have to live in a cardboard box, use a supermarket trolley to get around and rummage in bins for food.  And I’d have nothing to play my Avengers DVDs on. 

You may have noticed from my blog intro that I have a secret job so I have to be a bit circumspect when talking about work.  I would love to say that I work for M15 or Special Branch in the police and that I have multiple identities.   Then I’d get to meet people with funny accents on a park bench and say things like, ‘the nightingale is yawning’ and exchange briefcases, whilst also having a passionate affair with someone who has a dark and mysterious past.  Oh hang on, that’s Fifty Shades of Grey again. 

It’s nowhere near as glamorous as that.  You see, I work in a large building with small and often annoying people.  And they’re not dwarves.  Get it?  Let’s just say that a certain Mr Gove is not one of my favourite people.  It’s a shame that the powers that be aren’t too keen on us using social media because there are some very funny stories that come from where I work.  The thing is, although I am probably average at my job, I have to fit writing around work rather than work around writing.  Not that I would dream of drifting off into a daze and planning a new story in my head during a boring meeting; usually the ones where they use the words, ‘cohort’ or ‘strategy’ zzzzzzzz....  But then I get to rush home from the madhouse, open my laptop and write away because whether I ever make it or not, it gives me another world to escape to.   And there is always that glimmer of hope that one day, I’ll be able to tell Mr Govey-baby that he can shove his job up the annals of power.  Oh dear, I think I just have.

So I wonder dear readers, what do you do to pay the rent and how do you fit your writing endeavours around work? 

If you want to read some of my adventures at work, then the character Linda in my novel The Ghost Hunters Club will give you a good idea.  Or you can read one of my other stories which have been partially written when I should have been doing something else.  Oops.

Click here for L K Jay Amazon UK

Click here for L K Jay Amazon US


  1. LOL! We want to meet people on park benches and say cryptic phrases too! While we are living the dream and writing full time, we're only able to do this because of a terrible past that left us unable to work in normal society. But instead of drinking away our benefits, we opened ISAs and saved enough money through our adult lives to keep us going now we're no longer on benefits. It helps we still live at home and are tight :D We have a part time job as chair co-ordinators, which sounds glamorous but really involves setting out chairs and tables for different meeting groups & if we're lucky, funerals. They pay more. Oh and bank robbing pays REALLY well ;)

  2. I don't class myself as a writer mainly because I haven't written a book. But like you, I have to be careful when mentioning work after recently signing a social media policy. Damn Big Brother is everywhere. When not blogging or tapping away on my laptop writing a short story worthy of posting on my blog, I'm one of the faceless people at the other end of a phone call. And every now and then, I'm a secret agent ;)

  3. I think all of us writers are right behind you - mainly because we're trying to push you out of the way so we can get to the publishing house before you do.
    I'm a technical author and work for a software house in Cambridge, so I spend a lot of time writing and associated work. But I would happily give up everything to become a full time fiction writer.
    Here's an interesting idea: how much would you be happy to live off to attain you writerly independence? By that I mean, how little income do you need or want to make from writing fiction? Personally I think it could be as low as about £35k, which is obviously a long way from the millions JKR makes. Given that this figure isn't fantastically high, I think it makes it easier to realise that we don't have to be wildly successful to make enough to buy our financial freedom.
    That said, there are no guarantees of future earnings are there. Which makes grabbing as much as we can while we can a prerequisite doesn't it?

  4. I also have a secret job. My employers allow me to have a business interest as long as I don't mention my day job when promoting my writing. They also said I can only do it for 16 hours per month, and I stick to that, of course. Not once have I exceeded that total, nah-uh! Come February 8 next year I should be able to reveal all, but any one desperate to find out what I do wouldn't have to look very far - a few Google searches would do the trick. I do spend most of my work time researching and writing reports, so I do get paid rather well for writing. It's not what I want to write, of course.

    Tucker: you ARE a writer, regardless of the lack of a novel. You write: therefore you are a writer. Aspiring writers, on the other hand, don't write, they only have aspirations of writing.

    C L Raven: as usual, you two have intrigued me and now I wonder about your past.

    L K Jay, your secret occupation is more transparent than mine!

  5. You can only spend 16 hours per month of your own time on writing? That's left me speechless! Do they allocate time for when you can eat and have a bath as well?? Do they have CCTV in your living room? I'm amazed that employers think that they can direct your own, personal time.

  6. I must admit, I was surprised by the time restriction - 30 minutes per day, approx. I challenge them to enforce it. I will, however, not state my occupation, 'cos that one they can enforce.

    Hang on ... Damn, missed the 22.5 minutes they allotted for my evening meal ...

  7. That isn't an unrespectable figure to be fair - it means your work is selling, even if it isn't a living wage. Short stories are always a hard sell, and the profit per sale is tiny, so to get close to the £50/month territory isn't bad, especially as it will build over time.

    It's passive income, so you need to look at the value long term - it might not have made back it's cost in time (x your usual hourly rate) + expenses yet, but long term should make a mint, especially if you keep writing.

  8. When you put it that way, it gives me hope! Keep on writing, you never know where it will lead...

  9. I am so glad Mari Biella introduced me to you! This post not only made me smile, but it resonates. I, too, have a day job. In some respects, I don't mind, because it gives me a great place to watch people interact. It also gives me a way to pay for groceries. Food is a good thing!