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writergirl
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I am new here with a question:

What would you do if you had enough money to stay at home and finish your novel? Here's the catch: you have three small children and would not be able to get a good job without a masters degree (if some tradgedy struck and you needed steady income). Would you go to grad school to be on the safe side and try to write in your spare time or would you follow your passion and write?

Thanks for input,
-E


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wbriggs
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I *did* go to grad school, and wrote in spare time. I don't know who else that would be right for.
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Beth
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I'd go to grad school. I don't write well in a vacuum, anyway - I need other things going on in my life besides writing. If writing is the only thing I'm supposed to do, I find a thousand other things to do instead; if it's one thing on a long list of things to do, somehow I find the time.
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JBSkaggs
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Stephen King worked fulltime as an English teacher untill he sold his first big sale. Almost every writer I know works and writes on the side untill their career takes off.

Dean Koontz sat down with his wife and made a contract that he would write fulltime but if he could not make a living in two years to give it up.

Its all up to you. Sometimes you can play life too safe and never breakthru.


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Rahl22
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I'm in grad school right now (only 400 days left!) and am quite glad for it. I hate classes and can't wait to leave, but it will be nice having an income to support myself on while I figure out my writing.
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Christine
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Ok, let me see if I have these facts straight before I answer. I have made the following assumptions:

1. You are not married? (I'm hazies on this one.)
2. YOu have 3 kids.
3. Your current skill set requirse a graduate degree to get a "traditional" job.
4. You have some amount of money that will last you X number of years if nothing bad happens, Y number if something bad does happen, and quite a bit longer, say Z longer, if you sell your novel.

You are describing a potential future situation that I have considered in great detail.

At the moment, I am married, living off my husband's income, and trying to get a writing career off the ground. I have no kids (yet) but will probalby get started on that soon. My nightmare situation is that my husband dies, leaving me with some kids to take care of and I have to decide whether to keep writing or not.

In that eventuality, my husband has a life insurance policy. This buys me time. Time which I have decided would be best spent in graduate school getting me a safe, secure, and marketable option.

I love to write. I even think that if all goes well I can eventually sell a novel and make some money off my writing. I do have plenty of years to make this happen, after all, and I'm stubborn and persistent when it comes to something I want. But family comes first, and writing does not come with any guarantees. Sadly, it does not even come with guarantees if you're good at it.

Unless you've got enough money that you can live comfortably off the interest for the rest of your life wihout touching the principal, I would encourage you to go to grad school and try, like most of the people on this site, to find spare moments to write.


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MrClean
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It also depends on how much you might need a job later on. Are you going to school just to go, or are you going with a specific goal in mind? Does grad the grad school goal have anything to do with writing or are the two at different spectrums?

What ever you decide, make sure you won't have reqrets. If you can spare some time away from school, it sounds like the passion of writing might be what drives you. Will it make you happy?

My 2 cents.

MC


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writergirl
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Wow, I didn't expect to get so many responses so quickly! Let me clarify my situation: I am married and have a bachelors degree in psychology so I'd need a grad degree to get any decent paying job. My husband makes a decent salary and benefits. I have three small kids who are my full time job right now which leaves me little room for writing. I do however have a first novel completed and am 50,000 words into my second book. I'm contemplating what to do with my life for the next year when I'll have slightly more time to myself as my son will be going to preschool. Should I spend that time writing or going to grad school (part time, probably on-line as it would be all I'd have time for). My passion is writing but if I follow that path, I'll have no room for grad school (as it is, I now "work" well over 40 hrs with my kids). The other alternative is spending the little free time that I have writing which will leave me no time for grad school. What would you do?
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Christine
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Ohhhh....

Well, let's see. I have a degree in psychology but no master's degree so it is not marketable. I have a husband who supports me. I will probably have kids soon, leaving me with little free time.

I have chosen to write. My husband supports the decision and I love it.

What should *you* do? What do you want out of life? I made my decision based on a lifelong passion for writing. I hesitated, but it was mainly due to the fact that some people (especially my mother) frowned on the idea of me writing instead of getting a "real" job. What pressures make you want to choose one path over the other and are they the right ones?

If I were you, I'd set out a pro/con list, fill in every detail you can about both options, and then throw it away and do what your heart tells you to do. Strangers on a forum can't answer that question and I find myself wondering why you would choose to ask our opinion? Not that we don't all love to hear ourselves talk (er...see ourselves type??? ) and give those opinions, but why should you respect our word over your own feelings?


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writergirl
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Christine,

My dream and my passion is writing. It is also what I am most talented at. My husband is my biggest supporter and tells me to keep going with it. The thing is, I've had some serious flak from my mother and others in my family about getting "serious", writing's not a "real job" and that "you're too smart for that", "what if you don't make it", etc. (Will spare the details, LOL). And well, I guess I'm just letting it get to me and wondering if I really AM lacking in common sense. If I were to trust myself as you say, I would definately just keep going with my books. (I'm not planning on having a board decide this for me, BTW, just wanted feedback and opinions on what other people would do). :-)

-E


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writergirl
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Christine,

I just needed to ask this: Are you my long lost twin? I just re-read your posts. We are SO much alike!! Even the comments from our mothers about writing not being a "real job"!

-Ellen


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Christine
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I'm beginning to wonder if wbriggs is me, posting from about five to ten years in the future when I have a few kids.

Let's see: Psychology degrees, supportive husbands, mothers who want us to get a "real job", considering getting a master's degree...

My mother wants to brag about me at work again. I always did so well in school and I think she loved it. Now, when people ask her what I do I don't think she's proud of anything. I don't make any money to speak of and who knows if I'll ever get published, even if I am good. So she wants me to get a "real job." She disguises it by saying that you never know if a marriage is going to last and I have to be able to support myself but I think I know what she really ants...bragging rights.

Well, in about five years when I have my first novel on the bookshelves of Barne's and Noble, Borders, and Waldenbooks, she can brag. In the meantime, I will simply change the subject. She has actually cooled down somewhat since I got a couple of short stories published. I think when I started to take it seriously, she started at least showing some respect.


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JBSkaggs
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Not to sound too harsh, but you can always get a job. Maybe not a psych job, but you can always find work to put food on the table.

If you have the situation to write and can afford it I think I would take the opportunity to write.

Just as there is no gaurantee your writing will ever pay, there is no gaurantee that you will have this opportunity to write again. And Life is SO much more than just getting a paycheck. Ask any of the thousands suffering from depression and self regret WHILE making big bucks.

JB Skaggs


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djvdakota
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Welcome, writergirl!

Now, I'm assuming, from what you've written here, that you're not planning on actually using your degree unless you need to. In which case, you should stay home and write AND maybe take a class here and there to work towards your degree.

Here's why. And I'm speaking from some modicum of experience:

Let's say you get that degree. You frame it, put it on your wall, and go back to the extremely honorable business of being a wife and mother, AND doing many things on the side to teach yourself and keep yourself sharp and talented. You have a couple more kids. You're happy.

Ten years down the road, something happens. That thing for which your Master's degree is an insurance policy. BUT, ten years down the road that college degree isn't going to mean much if you don't have several years of work-experience in the field to put on your resume.

Write now until your youngest is old enough to be self-sustaining. You decide, by your child's individual needs and personality, what age that is. For some kids it's the first day at first grade. For others it's 18. For me the really important thing that children need to understand is that Mom can be there for them when they need her. And it's important for the Mom to be in a position that she can make that happen.

That said, here's what I'd do:
I'd stay home and write while they're still pretty small. In a few years (or sooner) you can go to school part-time while they're in school and work towards the Master's degree slowly. That ought to give you enough time to do, to at least some degree, everything you want to do. AND you'll be finishing your degree at a time when you will be most able (due to your children's ages) to USE that degree right after college.


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Pyre Dynasty
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Alright who's been cloning Christine? Survivor I'm looking in your direction.
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writergirl
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jbskaggs,
I know in my heart that you're speaking my truth as well. I really needed to hear that, though. Thanks.
djvdakota,
My job is mommy right now and as you understand, it's an enormous job requiring very little time for anything else (I have 3 children: 7, 5 and 3). From the time of their births, my writing has revolved around their schedules/needs which means maybe an hour every few days(if I'm lucky) and a few hours on the week-end when my H takes over. I'll have a few hours next year two days a week when my 3 y.o. starts pre-k. I just feel this enormous pressure (from my family mainly) to "succeed" in the work world (I know, success is different for each person. Following my heart feels more like success to me...). It's been really hard for me to deal with lately. I have a completed book and am more than half way through my present one and I can feel the next plot line thicken into the web that it will become making me realize that a third is next. How the hell do you deal with non-writers who just don't get that you MUST do this?

-Ellen


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franc li
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quote:
Alright who's been cloning Christine? Survivor I'm looking in your direction.

I'm pretty sure Christine and writergirl are clones of me, if Survivor started it. My degree is actually in Linguistics, and I have 3 kids. But I'm thinking of going back to grad school in a couple of years in public health. I'll want to do some coursework before I apply.

I actually just started a job as a part time bookkeeper at a Synagogue. Part time is good because you aren't totally used up at the end of the day. But it depends a lot on your personality.

[This message has been edited by franc li (edited March 07, 2005).]


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keldon02
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Going back to the original question I'd answer with a couple of other questions.

What if you were Marie Curie and you somehow knew that if you did you'd fall in love with a fellow scientist and your one true love would die when you were still young? Would you still go to grad school knowing you'd be lonely and miserable and in the end the job would kill you and kill one of your kids?

Personally, I dropped out of grad school and am making more money than if I'd stayed in it. But I still don't have enough time to write. People do what they want to do regardless of circumstances.

[This message has been edited by keldon02 (edited March 07, 2005).]


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rickfisher
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writergirl--

I vote with the pro-writing crowd. Dakota's reasons for not getting a Master's NOW are excellent, as is her suggestion for working at it very slowly, starting now, if you can manage it.

But one thing no one has mentioned yet. You say your husband is supportive of the writing. That's great. It is also crucial. And it could change. I'm not saying that it WILL, but watch out for it. The last thing you want is to build resentment in your marriage. So just pay attention. If his attitude changes, and he starts to feel that too much burden is on him for some reason, then be willing to rethink things. What you decide on rethinking would be up to you, of course--I'm just saying, make sure you're constantly aware of his attitude.

But for now, at least, keep writing!

[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited March 07, 2005).]


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Robyn_Hood
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I vote for the writing. Just because you have a degree in a particular field doesn't mean you need a different degree to go and do something else.

I have an uncle (dad's wife's youngest brother) who graduated with a bachelor degree in music about 6 years ago. You'll never guess what he's doing now ... Investment sales and counselling. He's working at a bank where the only music he interacts with is on the radio. How did he get his job? The bank was more interested by the fact that he has a degree (any degree) and they trained him.

If you want to go to grad school, then go. But if you really want to write then write.

Outsiders aren't going to understand. There is a mentallity out there that in order to succeed in the arts you have to be very talented, very good and very lucky. While this is partly true, you also have to work very hard.

I thought of a question though. Do you have to choose?

The thing with being a professional writer is, you don't have to be a novelist. If you want a career in writing, you may want to consider a non-fiction career. You could become a reporter/journalist (I could rant a little here but I'll avoid doing so) or a technical writer (with appropriate training this can be a lucritive job. Research I had to do a couple of years ago indicated TWs with a degree could easily expect $50,000 a year to start).

I got most of the way through a degree in applied communications, majoring in journalism, and then I quit (because it was sucking away my soul! ). But not before I learned a great deal about writing and myself.

In the time I spent at college, I did next to nothing in the way of creative writing and that didn't work -- FOR ME. However, I did spend a lot of time a) writing articles, essays and editorials; and b) studying writing mechanics, writing styles and effective forms of communication.

Now that I have regained my soul and am once again writing creativly, my writing in general is much better than it was five or ten years ago.


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writergirl
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francli,
Part time is a good idea and all I could do to work around my kids in a couple of years anyways :-)
keldon02,
I see your point. Yes, I'd have to write anyways. There's no way for me *not* to write. It's part of who I am and I'd be busting with all the stuff inside if I was unable to get it on the page.
rickfisher,
I also think Dakota's points are excellent. And it's good to hear that it all doesn't need to be NOW, as you say. I'm probably pressuring myself needlessly. As for my H, yes I do see your point there. He does tend to get jealous of my interests outside of him and that may happen when ("if" isn't even a consideration, LOL) I become a successful novelist. But, at the present time, he's too involved in what's going to happen next in my novel so he's pushing me to write more. *Now* it's good. Next year, who knows.
RobynHood,
I probably would go into a health care field since I have my bachelors in psyche but I also have lots of post grad courses (I got all of the pre-med pre-requisites). And it's where another of my interests lie. But as it stands now, I incorporate my health care (and psych)insights and knowledge into my plots/characters.

It's not so much that I *want* to go to grad school. It's also not so much that I *want* to write as much as I *have* to write or I'm *miserable*. Know what I mean? Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy writing, but there are stressors there too at times. But it's where my talent lies and my passion as well. I guess I'm just doubting it because it seems like such a shot in the dark to make it as a novelist (and no, I don't particularly want to go into freelance. Novels are my thing. That may change, though, who knows). And I guess, just the pressure to "succeed" is getting to me right now. And my children will soon be in school and I'll have the opportunity to do something career-wise soon. I've gotten a few comments lately that have hit me hard, mainly from my mother. I'm allowing them to get to me. I think that maybe I just need to have more faith in myself. I want to do writing. It's what my heart is telling me to do. I want to be able to do it regardless of whether I'll "make it" or not. But, it's scary at times going down an unpaved path. I have all "successful" people in my family and there's that pressure for me as well.

-Ellen


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JBSkaggs
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It seems to me you have a great deal of pressure (either real or imaginary) from your family particularly your mom to go and get your masters and be a career woman. But your husband is supportive of you being a writer.

First of all this is a hard lesson to learn. But you cannot live for your mother. If you keep trying to please your mother or anyone in your life choices eventually you will feel cheated and angry at everyone. Its hard to to this.

To me the question isn't about writing or not writing but about being self confident in the decisions you make.


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goatboy
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Stay in Skool! Ur yew cud end up lik i.
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