Actually this section could be called writing anywhere as an expat, except for those few countries with ridiculously strict border controls designed to keep out foreign slackers. I’ve given teachers a gentle poke over the last few days and I figure it’s fair enough to expose my own profession to scrutiny too.
First up, I need to make it clear I am a professional writer but that you are not going to see a book bearing my name in the near future. I won’t say never, but it’s certainly not high up on my list of priorities. I do other writing instead, I write articles (and have been published in my own name occasionally too – but mainly my clients buy the copyright and publish them under their own names). I write copy for websites. I write text for manuals and training courses. I have almost finished writing a book, but for a client and not for me – so it’s not that I don’t write books, but rather that I sell the rights to them in advance. (That means no royalties – but also no risk, and no marketing on my behalf).
I like my job. It might not set the best seller charts alight but it is useful in the main. I share useful information with other people, I help businesses reach clients and occasionally I even educate both myself and others. That’s not bad at all. I also know a couple of other jobbing writers doing the same kind of thing.
Then there are other “writers” in China. These writers don’t actually seem to write, they just seem to be too lazy to get a job. They’re always working on a novel of some form but after 3 years they seem no closer to finishing the job than when they arrived in China. Many of these writers want my time – for free. They’re convinced that if another writer just did the work for them, on their bare bones idea, that they’d soon be rich. I understand that – I’m convinced if I could just persuade a talented soul to work for me for free and do all my work, then I’d be richer too. I’d certainly be drunker.
These tortured artists always have a monologue about how their idea is unique and will certainly propel them to the ranks of J K Rowling – even though this is ridiculous, there’s only J K Rowling in her ranks and the chances of anyone else joining her in our lifetime are slim to none. (That’s not a resounding reference for Ms. Rowling’s writing which is enjoyable though not outstanding, but rather a comment on the amazing power of marketing and the limits of marketing too).
Often they will offer obscure promises of revenue sharing once my work has made them rich, and they get very upset when I refuse. If there’s anything more worrying in this life than unqualified English teachers for me, it’s the “writer” that doesn’t write.
By the way it’s actually not all that hard to get paid to write, it just takes a little bit of work and a whole heck of a lot of practice. I’ve got a long way to go to get to where I really want to be – and almost anyone on my blogroll could make a living at it if they wanted too (that’s another plug by the way – check them out they’re all really good blogs) – but starting out is easy, and then you get better with time. But please don’t ask me to write for free, the only free writing I’ll do is outlined in the “Free Stuff” section above and at the moment I’ve got a bit of a backlog (sorry Nate), because I’m writing nearly 10-15,000 words a day for clients.