9. Have a backup plan.
I understand this sounds pessimistic. It seems to suggest you may not have a successful career as an author. Well, let me tell you, you are going to be extremely famous. You are going to be successful and rich! Unfortunately this may take 80 to 140 years to kick in, thus the need for a backup plan. I’m not saying you can’t make your way off the lay of the land while waiting on the big time, but I am saying without a backup plan you might find yourself poor in a way that adversely affects your ability to write as excellently as possible. Impoverished writers are frequently too cold and hungry to concentrate properly. Should they defy the odds and really get going on something white hot, like a version of Pride And Prejudice, taking place in the future, with some of the characters as dragons, they are going to be easily interrupted by irresistible opportunities like learning that a large lot of only two day post expiration date cheese has been thrown out into the large, unsecured dumpster of their third favorite grocery store’s parking lot. And if, later that same day, sitting in a rickety chair that’s missing one leg with a cracked plate full of cheese, cheese, cheese and cheese sandwiches our impoverished writer does manage to get back to how a future dragon could be pretty much exactly like Darcy in an almost more than Darcy kind of way, they will only be thrown off again when their turn comes to huddle at the one tiny space heater they share with their seven roommates.
If said writer had instead chosen a nice backup plan like “Become Professional Baseball Player” they could sit in a cozy, craftsman style, 11,000 square foot writers study, lulled into a deep concentrative state by typing into the same typewriter John Steinbeck used to type Tortilla Flat (modified to store the typing digitally), all on P. G. Wodehouse’s old mahogany writing desk while the servants, well out of earshot, whisper excitedly to each other “The master is not to be disturbed during writing time!”
Baseball player was a random choice for a backup plan, but it’s a good one and worth seriously considering. It pays well, gives late fall and winters entirely off, and has a retirement age of about 37. But what if you’re too old for that and not athletic anyway? How about President of the United States? The benefits of the Presidency do not stop at a superbly generous retirement package for as little as four years of work, but also pretty much guarantees a lucrative publishing contract for your first book. Yes, it will have to be about your Presidency, but it’s a foot in the door of an ever more challenging to crack publishing industry. I know the Presidency can be a hard job to get, but being a Governor or Senator can provide many similar benefits and there are loads of Governor and Senator Jobs (150!). Indeed any backup job in what I call the “Fame” line tends to provide a handsome income and wonderful entrees into the publishing world. Don’t think of your backup job as a Prima Ballerina, Rockstar, News Anchor, Movie Director, Fashion Model, Nobel Prize Winning Physicist, or Movie Star as giving up on your dream. Backup plan is really just a shorthand way of saying that you should have a long term plan that takes into account the many subtle things in life that lead us to success as published writers, such as being next door neighbors with the CEO of Random House.
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