Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Giving up my day job

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You know that piece of advice often given to writers? Don’t give up your day job? Well, I’ve given up my day job. Okay, not permanently, only for the month of August during my tenure as WIR. It really is quite a delight to give myself permission to focus on creative writing, and reading, and books, and the arts in general, and then to be able to blog about them here through Open Book.

Like so many others in the arts, I have a day job that financially makes it easier for me to continue to do what I love – write poetry, stories, and novels.

What’s my day job?

Writing.

I think of it as my practical writing. I’ve never liked the word technical writing. It doesn’t seem to adequately describe what I do. If you “google” me and add the word literacy to the search, you’ll find that my name brings up a slew of educational materials and projects. I’m a bit of a writing mercenary and have worked as a “hired gun” on a range of contracts. My day job has led me into prisons (while designing a tutor-training package for those teaching literacy skills to inmates), and has led me to explore how young children acquire language (while writing a family literacy manual). It has led me to ponder the aging brain (a Seniors research project), and recently to design a literacy program for women who want to re-enter the workforce.

I tend to think that learning to be a writer is a bit like learning to be a marathon runner. You put in the miles; you put in the pages. You write, and you write lots, and through it you learn how to string together a story, put together words, to communicate clearly. I have found my “day job” makes me a better creative writer, and my novels and poems and short stories, have made me better at my day job.

Once upon a time, I thought I might become a children’s writer. To that end, I wrote a year’s worth of children’s stories for a small weekly rural newspaper. For each story, I received ten dollars in pay. The stories weren’t very good – this was an awfully long time ago – so ten dollars was probably very generous! Regardless, I learned early on that a poem or short story doesn’t pay very much – usually the honour of seeing it published and having it read by others. But that’s a great honour. I have never taken it lightly.

When it comes right down to it, the publication of my creative work has given me the most return, not financial return, but personal satisfaction. And to see a novel in print, after dreaming it, writing it, polishing it, sometimes for years, that for me is the greatest satisfaction of all.
~ Marianne

An aside: Interesting, isn’t it, how words enter our everyday language? Not so long ago ago, if I had asked you to “google” me, you’d have thought I was suggesting something rude, maybe akin to ogling. And now it seems we will soon be “bing-ing,” if Microsoft and Yahoo have their way.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Marianne Paul

Marianne Paul's is the author of the novels Dead Girl Diaries (BookLand Press, 2009), Tending Memory (BookLand Press, 2007), Twice in a Blue Moon (BookLand Press, 2007) and The Shunning (Moonstone Press, 1994). Her fiction, non-fiction and poems have appeared in publications such as Vox Feminarum, Cahoots, Canadian Author, Western People and The New Quarterly.

Go to Marianne Paul’s Author Page