Writing For Children Course: Week 5


We started the session with the usual ‘brain dump’ – 5 or so minutes of writing about everything and anything we want. I had something on my mind: Writing itself... What do you call something that you spend your time on, that you do because you enjoy, and that makes you no money?

Yep, that’s it, a hobby.

And what do you call having a hobby when you have little kids, run a household, and now finally have the opportunity to squeeze in a job that actually could make you money?

Well that’s a good question. I guess you could call it a lot of things. Some might call it an indulgence, perhaps a waste of time, others might call it ‘life balance’.

I think I call it A Source of Guilt (worth the Title Caps as it is kind of a story within itself). Whenever I am writing, even when it is during my 5 hours of allocated ‘writing time’ each week, I guilt out. Big time.

As my hands type and three quarters of my brain is in imaginary story-writing heaven, the other chunk of my brain is thinking of things I should be doing instead.

That little brain-part is convinced I should be washing, dusting, paying bills or, you know, doing my 'real job' to make the money to pay those bills.

Sometimes I think: what is wrong with me? I have made a commitment to follow this dream and should just go for it and enjoy it. The other times I think: what is wrong with me? I have made such a dodgy life choice here, I should get up, wash the skirting boards and write some invoices, immediately.

Is this business of writing actually a business?

Ok, I didn’t write all of that in the time I had (I was a few minutes late to the class as usual – I am such a sucker for my four year old boy who begs me to put him to bed. He rewards me with pearlers like ‘Mummy, you are my favourite safe place to go to’ and ‘Mum, I will never let you down…Good.Night.' Really, how could I miss that?).

The brain dump was full of thoughts I have been mulling over for a while though. Last week our amazing course leader let us in on how many books she sells and how much profit that adds up to. And she is a successful published children's author. It was the saddest story you have ever heard.

Here is the profit from all those books you sold. Yes that is a bag of chocolate coins, what did you expect?

Here is the profit from all those books you sold. Yes that is a bag of chocolate coins, what did you expect?

I went home at the end of the session and stood at my leaky sink in my run down kitchen eating a big slice of cold pizza and drinking a big glass of cheap cold wine. Why this choice Mish? Why writing? Why did I not have a sudden urge to be a something-that-makes-lots-of-money. I was reminded of a choice I made while I was studying for my psych degree.

My teenage life had been peppered with experiences that made me keen to help people, particularly children, solve problems. My mum told me that was called being a ‘Psychologist.’ Perfect, I thought, I will be one of them. So I applied for the course as soon as the applications came out.

A couple of years into the degree I did some Organisational Psychology units and absolutely loved them. I found the content more interesting than all the counselling, clinical and stats units combined. Then I found out that most Org Psychs made big bucks, mostly because they made big bucks for the big companies they worked for. I had been tempted by the devil. So one night I wrote a personal manifesto, or was it a mission statement?

Show me the job satisfaction!

Show me the job satisfaction!

It went along the lines of dropping all of my Org Psych units because my life was not about making money for corporate pigs and corrupt conglomerates. I know, I know, I don’t even want to continue, you get the gist. It finished with a line saying this was the last time I would make a choice based on these philosophical grounds and in the future I would only travel a path that would actually make me some good coin. Because good coin was good.

Of course that path never eventuated.** The helping-other-peeps-paths and the earning-good-coin-paths never actually cross; it is a well-known fact (to everyone but me).

So here I am. In a position where I could probably really ramp up my own consulting business and do well (and help people too I think) and I am overcome by this ridiculously povo-ridden passion (unless I am another J.K Rowling which you will have gathered I just ain’t) that I am compelled to explore.

Argh, ok, I am even starting to bore myself with this excessively long post about me and money (two of the most dull topics I could think of). Brain dump indeed. I guess amongst all of this contemplating is the incredible excitement I get when I remember Tuesday is coming (course day but only for one more week OHNO!) or when I realise I can fit some writing time in my day. My step gets a little jumpy and I rub my hands in glee. Happiness.

To skip to the predictable end of this thought process I think I just have to work on the constant guilt and get down with it. At least for this one year that I have put aside to walk the writers' walk. I have to get down with the imaginary story-writing heaven and get down with another year of drinking cheap wine next to a leaky sink, in a run down kitchen.

Unless I get a publishing contract of course.

Then I will get down to drinking slightly less cheap wine next to a leaky sink, in run down kitchen, with a huge smile on my face…

We have everything we need in there, including a stand alone bath...

We have everything we need in there, including a stand alone bath...

** definite point of debate there - of course it is the western-world-middle-class-white-whine version of making good coin I refer to. No one is wearing newspaper for shoes or brushing their teeth with stale bread around here. God knows I would be out making any kind of coin I could if the little monkeys lives were compromised...