Question of the Week: If You Weren’t A Writer, What Would You Be?

20 Nov

Wow! We’ve received SO many wonderful Question of the Week suggestions lately! Keep them coming, guys!

Caitlin asked us: “I’d like to know what each of you would be if not an author (like if writing wasn’t your day job, what would your day job be?)

Thanks for the QotW, Caitlin!

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Well, actually, writing isn’t my day job.  At least not yet.  My career track has been pretty varied, but I’ve always tried to get involved in work that has been somewhat related to writing and/or publishing.  I was a reporter for a while (one of my college professors told me: “It worked for Hemingway”).  Now my day job is at a public library—which, unfortunately, does not mean I get to sit around reading all the time.  But I do get to handle dozens, if not hundreds, of books a day (which never gets old), and the job provides a rich education on the human condition—to put it mildly.  I’m sure anyone who works in public service comes home every night with plenty of fodder for a novel.

The Writer Who’s Writing Queries

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I’ve actually considered this question several times before: What kind of career do I want after I graduate university? The answers have often left me with a horrible headache. I came up with: bookshop keeper, librarian, an employee at a publishing company, a member of an NGO. But they were all half-hearted considerations. I’ve pretty much gambled my whole future for writing. I’ve planned my life around writing because that is what I do and love best.

The Writer Who Just Started Querying

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If I weren’t a writer I’d probably be where I am now: employed at a medical billing company, working as an Executive Administrative Assistant (I love my job; I get to write policy and fetch coffee!). Recently, I was promoted to HR Manager for the company, so I’ll probably pursue a career in HR until the writing (one day hopefully!) becomes a full-time obligation.

The Writer Who is Also on Submissions

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If I weren’t a writer….Oh, boy. What would I DO with my life? If I had math skills, I would have pursued a career in science. No, seriously. From the age of eight (and until I was fifteen), I wanted to be a marine biologist and study great white sharks. To this day, I still have a fascination with sharks (and great whites in particular), and know way too much about them. If not a marine biologist, I might have followed my passion for antiquities and perhaps wound up as an Egyptologist or something.

Or, to imagine my life taking a completely different route, if my parents had forced me to keep up with ballet lessons, I might have become a ballerina. I sort of wish they had, because ballet is a passion of mine, and I wish could dance.

The Writer Who Is (Im)Patiently Waiting While Her First Novel is On Submissions

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For me, I am an author *AND* I have a day job: I work in real estate acquisitions for a local government agency. The truth is, if you wander through a bookstore, 90% of the authors you see have day jobs, and will always have day jobs. The vast majority of authors can not earn enough income to quit. An average first advance can range from just a few thousand dollars to around $10,000. Deduct from that your agent’s cut (15%), taxes, and book related expenses, and you can’t even pay rent! (Sorry to be the Debbie Downer! Publishing should be your passion, not your idea of easy money.) There are always exceptions, of course, but they ARE exceptions and not the norm.

My biggest goal is actually to become an agent. I know, whole-heartedly, that publishing is the industry that I belong in. If I can become a successful agent and continue to write, I can ditch the day job and focus 100% on my passion.

The Writer With a Book Deal

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Well, right now I’m not a writer 😉 I’m a college student. However, I’m not actually planning to be a writer as my profession. I know that while I love books, reading,  creating plots and characters, I cannot support myself on my writing full time. I hope to go into the publishing field, particularly for children’s literature, middle grade literature or young adult literature. I want to edit or be a part of sales & marketing or design or maybe even just run around and get the head editors/etc. coffee! I just want to be immersed in helping children and teenagers find their way if they are lost, just like books helped me during that time.

The Writer Writing Her First Novel

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Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!!!

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16 Responses to “Question of the Week: If You Weren’t A Writer, What Would You Be?”

  1. Savannah J. Foley November 20, 2009 at 7:00 AM #

    So weird, you guys; I didn’t even read the little ‘The Writer Who’ bits, and I knew who each paragraph belonged to!

    • sarahjmaas November 20, 2009 at 10:18 AM #

      Haha, really? That’s so funny!! And adorable and heart-warming. 🙂

    • Alexandra Shostak November 20, 2009 at 10:48 AM #

      Lol that’s a little worrisome to me considering mine was the weirdest… meaning that I must clearly come across as the Writer Who Only Has Half A Brain. haha.

      • sarahjmaas November 20, 2009 at 11:51 AM #

        hahaha, stfu! You’re The Writer Who Is Too Awesome For Words.

      • svonnah November 20, 2009 at 12:02 PM #

        Haha, you’re the only writer brave enough to say they want to be a vampire hunter and mean it. I wouldn’t mind being one, in theory, but I have the feeling you’d totally kick ass at it.

      • Alexandra Shostak November 20, 2009 at 1:42 PM #

        Hahaha, I do want to be a vampire hunter! I only wish they existed so I COULD be a vampire hunter ❤

        I'm so pleased that you think I'd make a good one 😉 Like, probably more pleased than I really should be that someone thinks I'd be good at a fictional occupation.

  2. rachelsimon November 20, 2009 at 8:47 AM #

    Sarah, I grew up dancing and I had to choose between art, Girl Scouts, karate and creative writing. I made the choice of dance, which I’ve regretted ever since. To make up for it, I have impromptu dance parties every day. I still longingly dream of Juilliard (I was eleven, okay!), but I know that I am not that coordinated (darn it!) and would never been to able to make it professionally.

    And Savannah, I also could tell who was who without the ‘Writer’ bits. I think it just shows how close (or how close we are getting) in this short amount of time. 🙂

  3. Lynn Heitkamp November 20, 2009 at 1:28 PM #

    I still wonder what my life would have been like if I’d chosen to take the year-long “studio” art class in 8th grade instead of taking half a year of art and half a year of drama. Maybe I would have kept on with art in high school then, and not gotten into the journalism track…

    My life could have been completely different!

  4. Caitlin November 20, 2009 at 4:03 PM #

    You answered my question!! I feel so honored, and I also really enjoyed your answers. I never would’ve guessed on several of them, so I feel like I’ve really learned a lot. I actually was inspired to ask because I currently have a friend majoring in Aerospace Engineering who sort of picked it as her back-up source of income to writing.

    • Sarah J. Maas November 20, 2009 at 4:49 PM #

      Aww! Thank YOU for your wonderful question! It sparked a lot of discussion outside of the blog, too–I think we dedicated an entire e-mail chain amongst ourselves to discuss what we’d be! 🙂
      Thanks again!

  5. junebugger November 20, 2009 at 11:33 PM #

    AHHHH I don’t want to think ahead. Me? Getting a day job? Oh dear. I’ll bring the whole business down because I am a total clutz/scatterbrain. The only place I function well is in my world of imagination

  6. Alexandra Shostak November 21, 2009 at 4:04 PM #

    Actually… you guys… I want to change my answer. If I wasn’t going to be a writer, I would be a backup dancer for Lady Gaga.

    • Savannah November 22, 2009 at 2:50 PM #

      I loooooorve Lady Gaga. I don’t usually fall for pop celebrities, but I think she’s just fantastic. I CANNOT get Bad Romance out of my head.

      • Sarah J. Maas November 22, 2009 at 2:53 PM #

        I keep watching the Bad Romance video again and again and again. She is SO weird and awesome. I adore her.

  7. Schneider November 22, 2009 at 3:50 PM #

    If I weren’t a writer?

    …Well, then I’d be Nobody. Because Nobody’s perfect. 😀

    I KID, I KID.

    (Plz excuse the lame jokes. kthx.)

    Actually, I’m probably going to major in Biology and go to school for medicine, but really, it’s only going to be the day job to pay the bills. I’ll be writing every second in between. ❤

  8. Maybelle November 24, 2009 at 12:12 PM #

    I think I would be an artist or a language teacher… and teach part-time piano and write on the side. 😀
    Or I’d work in the Haus of Gaga and help design costumes and stuff! Awesome job. I love how everything she does is so surreal!

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