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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)

TITLE: Dirt poor and loving it
By Tom Rinkes


Someone once said “To thine own self be true”, but I don't know who it was; I'll have to Google it. A writer's life is filled with forty to sixty hour weeks with the perks being daily under-fed and under-dressed. In other words, for awhile, they're dirt poor. So why do they do it? It must be that they have a passion for writing, and what to write enters their brain as soon as their feet hit the floor in the morning, yet it's not always to their liking. A typical water cooler conversation may go something like this:

“What's Harry (the editor) got you doing today?”

“The Senator.”

“Bummer. I wanted that.”

“Why? Do you like him?”

“Not personally, but I like his politics and position on things. Why do you ask—don't you like him?”

“Can't stand the man, all the way around.”

“Are you going to write it the way you feel?”

“Are you kidding? And get fired? Harry loves him, so I must too, whether I like it or not.”

Maybe Shakespeare should've have added “...be true and unemployed.” (Love that Google.)

Speaking of search engines, they've become the backbone of a writer's research abilities. I use them constantly, and have found them most useful. But the writer, be it a blog, a newspaper or a magazine, still has to do the old fashioned legwork.
They must drive, ride the subway, or just plain walk to do interviews with the people pertinent to their story. They may have to deal and hob-nob with people they don't particularly like or approve of, especially if they're a Christian, but nonetheless the job must get done.

Then there are the freelancers, the bravest writers in my book. Some are lucky enough to have a spouse with a good job or career that can support the household while they practice and expand their burning desire to transcribe. The others simply go by faith if they're writing for the Lord, or faith in themselves. Whatever the reason, times can be lean. For some the disappointment never goes away because they don't have what it takes, and that realization can be heart breaking to some.

Fiction writers take an imaginary idea, toy with it, and then have to make it somewhat believable. That takes expanding a crazy concept to novel size, and that's a lot of work and even longer hours until a publisher buys it. Steven King survived on handouts before he made it, and J.K. Rowling was a bag lady and homeless before her first book was published.

Then there are writers like my son. After college, he took a job as a reporter for our local newspaper. Once every summer, our area hosts the largest outdoor country music festival in the nation. He was given the assignment of covering the week long event and then write his review. He told it like he saw it; that it's the most highly organized booze, drug and sex-fest that fifty dollars a ticket can buy. His editor rejected it—because this event brought in six million dollars total to the local economy—and ordered him to do a re-write that was...flattering.

Paul asked me what to do.

“Quit,” I said.

“But, Dad, I won't have a job.”

I thought about it, and said, “I've been supporting you for twenty-two years...a few more weeks won't kill me. You're supposed to be a good Christian, so follow your conscience.” Within a week he was re-employed at another newspaper, and that was that.

I have a small mountain of books beside me on writing. I've read them all and some two and three times, and they all preach the same message. Above all else they stress that one must write what they want, what they feel and what they know must be said. To find your best genre takes time, emotion and the tenacity to keep typing away one rejection slip after another.

Sometimes, it's lonely at the bottom, even if the room is crowded.

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This article has been read 406 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Esther Phillips05/20/10
You have done an excellent job of showing the pitfalls of writing. It did my heart good to hear the success at the end. Good job!
Judy Wood05/20/10
I like your advice to your son to follow his conscience. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of writing.
Mildred Sheldon05/20/10
Loved the title and the contents of your article. I loved your advice to your son. Be true to your conscience. Good job.
Maria Kana Santos05/20/10
I enjoyed your story very much. I echo the father's and son's conviction and values as counselor (to his son) and writer. Keep it up. Well done in writing this.
Gregory Kane05/20/10
I particularly liked your last line. You conveyed some important truths here.
In terms of keeping your entry flowing, I felt that your water cooler dialogue didn't sit that well with the tone of the rest of your entry. Hang in there and keep on writing
AnneRene' Capp05/21/10
Well written, informative, and entertaining commentary on the life of writers. Got a kick out of the father's good humor to support his son another two weeks after twenty-two years! Good Job!!
Caitlyn Meissner05/22/10
This was good. You made an informative article interesting for the reader. That can be hard to do. Good job!