I'm finished with posts about Margaret Atwood after this one, I promise*, but I think all of us aspiring writers should take comfort in one small but important point she made during her answers to questions after her lecture last night. In discussing her life while she was starting out as a professional writer, she explained that she always had a day job for the first ten years or so. Think about that. Margaret Atwood is a frigging genius. She's published dozens of books, won scads of awards, and touched so many lives that even in sparsely populated and mostly conservative Kansas the room couldn't contain everyone who wanted to hear her talk. Yet this giant of literature, this master of so many literary forms, had to earn money with something other than her writing for years when she was starting out.
I'm not as smart as she is, I'm not as wise as she is, I'm not as witty as she is, and I'm certainly not as experienced as she was when she finally quit her day job after a decade of publishing. If I'm not making a living with my words right now (or even ever), that's okay. I may get there yet, assuming that's a destination I have my sights set upon.
I'd be pretty pleased with myself if I turn out to be half the writer Margaret Atwood is, so I'll give myself twice as many years as she needed to take up writing full-time. Twenty years are on the clock for me, so I'd bettered get busy--but I'm not ready to quit my day job.
* Promise not valid. You may have noticed that I was quite geeked up to go to her lecture last night, especially if you follow me on Twitter. I'm sure I will have more to say about what Margaret Atwood soon.