If there’s one thing I believe I am very good at then it has to be writing. I’m not a talker and I will sometimes doubt my abilities in other fields where I can otherwise excel. But for a reason that remains unknown, I never doubt my ability to write very well, if ever imperfectly at the same time.
But how could I make a living by putting pen to paper?
Or, should that be: tapping keys infront of a computer screen?
This is something I haven’t explored on an ‘educational’ level as much as other subjects like woodworking. Creative writing wasn’t available as an A-Level fifteen-years ago and I doubt that fact has changed since. English, as a subject, seemed to broad, intimidating and demanding – I didn’t want to spend my evenings and afternoons writing essays on MacBeth, having done that for the previous two-years at GCSE level.
That’s enough waffling on that.
I feel as though my passion for writing first developed on an internet forum, setup for people to primarily talk about gaming. This was something I discovered in my mid-teens (let’s say fifteen-years-old) and it was something I committed to in my spare afternoons and evenings for several years to follow. An incentive was the offering of a ‘Game-A-Day‘ prize, where one piece of writing (which could’ve been a product review on the site or a post in the forum) was selected by the team of moderators and so, each day, someone would win a free game for their writing.
It was as simple as that. There honestly were no tricks and there was no underlying scheme. From memory, I think I amassed a total of twenty-two wins in my time, equating to twenty-two free games (or DVDs) of my choice. At the very heights of the leaderboard, there were others tallying close to forty wins.
Although I joined the forum with the intention of eventually winning games, I didn’t initially engage in the forums for that same reason. That seemed to come about as I was writing product reviews, in the hope of claiming my first prize – which ultimately came, unexpectedly and unintentionally, from a forum post I’d made and I believe it was on the subject of football.
My interest in football has waned over the years and I now view the professional game differently to how I saw it half-my-lifetime-ago. But I was a passionate writer then. Not always accurate but opinionated. I’d thought about following it and pursuing ‘something’ but lacked the direction or belief that I could be anything more than an over-opinionated shit-stirring sports journalist in the back of some newspaper.
Since then, blogging and such has taken off and I wonder whether something different to my own beliefs at the time, may’ve been possible after all.
In the winter of 2012, I enrolled in a Short Fiction writing course at the Folk House in Bristol. It was an evening course, once a week, where we were encouraged to write and share whilst learning about character developments and how to layout our intentions.
Going in to the course, I didn’t really have an interest in writing fiction or short stories – it was purely a ‘writing course’ that was convenient and affordable at the time. I came to enjoy it and learned a lot through its intensity. I’ve started many short stories that remain unfinished. I don’t know what holds me back but I do like the idea of self-publishing and how easy it seems to be for people to make their work available today (thinking of eBooks, as one example).
Perhaps I should set myself an intention this year… To finish one of my shot stories, publish it online and make it available. For a few years now, I’ve also been saying now that I’d also start to share more of my writing on this blog – which clearly hasn’t already happened!
Elsewhere, the Folk House also did (and, I presume, this is still the case) a similar course on the aspects of novel writing. You may’ve heard of NaNoWriMo? I know a few of you have taken part in this. That thought of writing a novel frightens me at the moment but, if I can get a few short stories published, maybe it would follow along organically…
Could I make a living publishing short stories? It seems ‘less risky’ than having to outlay huge amounts of money to acquire and maintain a workshop space, for one.
Some of you may remember that I used to write for British Woodworking magazine and, for a time (between 2008-2010), it was on quite a regular basis. I was never officially employed by the magazine and the money, although greatly appreciated, was not enough to live on but it would’ve helped alongside something else. Sadly, the magazine’s future remains ‘uncertain’ due to the editor’s health. There are other magazines and other editors but I always felt most comfortable there.
Clearly, some people make a living through blogging. How? I imagine it has a lot to do with sponsorship and advertising but I don’t have the facts. Some authors appear as though they’re writing within the confines of those who pay their wage and are restricted from writing as freely and openly as you or I, perhaps. I don’t know.
I’ve always liked the idea of being involved with a magazine somehow but I’m reluctant to make an about-turn and head for full-time or long-term education for so many reasons. Short courses offer more of an appeal.
Another idea – and one I’ve come up with quite recently – is to create a website database of walks around the Mendip Hills. A quick Google search doesn’t yield the simple and easy-to-find results that some may be searching in hope for. I know very little about web design and maintenance but, again, this is something I could learn from evening courses. Someone recently asked me (through social media) if I knew of any ten-mile walks near Cheddar… I wanted to direct them to a website but then realised there wasn’t any such page, without lots of scrolling, clicking and page turning, back and forth.
Could I make a living by hosting a walking website?
I’ve no idea. But I am increasingly frustrated with what I currently do.