Monday, May 26, 2014


When I was in high school, I thought I might want to become a writer.  I thought that meant that I had to be either a novelist or a newspaper reporter.  I knew I wasn't cut out to me a newspaper reporter, because you have to be kind of persistent about trying to get people to talk to you, and my attitude is if people don't want to talk to me, I should respect that.  I attempted to write several novels, and enjoyed it, but in time I came to see that writing novels was not my thing either.  I'm not that imaginative.  Now I think that the kind of writing I do is to write my thoughts and observations.  Sometimes it's mostly introspective, while other times, it's about observing other people and writing about what they say and do.

 Anyway, when I was a teenager, I thought that the only ways to earn a living as a writer were as a novelist or a newspaper reporter.  But I look at things I got in the mail, and I realize that someone was paid to write them, and I realize that there are a lot of ways to get paid to write that I didn't necessarily think of.

I have a clothing catalog that says
Splash through a creek.  Hose down your horse.  Get doused in a downpour.  With DuluthFlex Dry on the Fly Pants, you'll be comfortably dry before you can say, "Where's an umbrella."  
I have an alumni magazine from College of the Atlantic.  Each issue starts with a letter from the editor.  In this issue, the letter from the editor starts with a paragraph about how it is the anniversary of the publication of The Maine Woods by Thoreau.  Then it goes on to say
The founders of the College of the Atlantic -- inspired by Thoreau, among others -- created a school in which students are immersed in firsthand experience.  At COA, students connect directly to their subjects -- to learn for themselves, much as Thoreau did, aided by faculty catalysts -- whether studying biology, history, literature, art, or land use planning.  This kind of learning hones self-reliance and keen observation, qualities crucial to thriving in our unpredictable world.
And another piece of writing, which unlike the others, is not something I got in the mail:
As the summer heats up, we often try to start our routes as early as possible to avoid the mid-day sun. Please remember to have your trash and recycling out by 8 am so that we don't miss it. Also, if you don't already have compost service with us, summer is a great time to start. Putting food waste in the compost helps keep animals and flies away from your garbage bin, and keeps the smell down. Compost service is free for our customers who already have trash & recycling service with us. Contact us and we can sign you up.
So it's not always obvious how a person can earn a living as a writer.

And it's very much not obvious to me how I can earn a living.  Not that I necessarily want to be a writer.  Well of course I would be doing some writing as part of the job, but writing might not be the thing that defines the job.

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