How long can I keep up the conceit that I’ve been locked in a hotel room by my cruel, intolerable publisher? Years, baby. You should see the conceits I’m still keeping up on my other web sites.
You know, I don’t know about you, but when I was younger I used to imagine that published writers were, if not rich in the Bill Gates sense, at least comfortably well off. The truth is, most of us aren’t, at least not when it’s our first book. It’s shocking, I know, but I think the percentage of authors who have day jobs is pretty high. Then again, some people don’t require the quantities of Scotch and televised baseball that I do in order to survive, and thus can do with less.
It wasn’t that I thought writing as a gig was so damned lucrative–to be honest, I didn’t really think of writing as a job, really, when I was ten years old and trekking into Manhattan every week to buy paperbacks in Barnes and Noble. I just figured writers did a lot of sitting around writing, maybe drinking and screaming at the walls the way I always imagined Jack Kerouac did it. It just seemed like a magical kind of thing.
Now of course, I know the truth: Books are written on computers at day jobs, in coffee-stained notebooks on the subway, on cocktail napkins, on greasy palms and in blood on your forehead–there’s nothing magical about it. Even if you’re writing the book that’ll change the world, you’ve got bills to pay. In my case, massive liquor store bills. People sometimes doubt I drink as much as I say in my writing, but trust me, babies: The Somers machinery runs on booze.
So, the lamentable Day Job. My job doesn’t exactly pay a lot. Plenty, of course, to survive on, but I am not exactly earning a fortune. But it pays the mortgage–or part of it, anyway–and keeps me in liquor and hot dogs. What more could you want?
Recently, My Other Corporate Masters decided to close their New York office, and offered their NY employees the opportunity to work from home. Which is great, of course, for someone like me. Because at least now I can pretend to be one of those stay-at-home writers. Sure, I’ll be doing my job instead of writing*, but it’s one step closer to the dream**.
Now, of course, I have to battle my urge to just sit on the deck and drink beer, see how long I can collect a paycheck before someone notices. My guess is 3 weeks, actually, which ain’t bad. But the wife will be less than amused, and that will probably end up with me having to get another office job. Never! Anyone know where one can buy some Oompah Loompahs for the performing of one’s own job duties?
*Writing, of course, includes all sorts of activities that are not actually writing at all, like drinking. Or watching TV. Or napping. That’s the beauty of writing as a profession–everything counts as ‘research’. If you walk in on me wearing a tutu, dancing around to Soviet Army Marches and smoking clove cigarettes, I can just glare at you and say “It’s research for my next book!” and all is well.
**The dream includes a lot more drinking than you’d imagine at first.