Want to be a Writer? Don’t Have a Backup.

Tell your parents you dream of being a successful writer (or actor, artist, filmmaker, etc.) and, after they hopefully give some encouraging words, you’re bound to hear, “That’s great, but you should have a backup.”

We all know what that means. Few people make a living pursuing a creative career, they’re thinking, so you better have an alternative career path lined up when you inevitably fail.

But I’m here to tell you that you can’t fail at any artistic pursuit. Your first or tenth novel might never see the light of day, but if you keep honing your craft and putting words to the page, you’re allowed to put “writer” on your business cards. That means you don’t need a backup!

Now, I want to be clear, that doesn’t mean you don’t need another job. A backup is something you do after you fail at your first pursuit. A job is something that brings in money and other positive benefits while you’re a writer. (If it doesn’t, you should get a different job!) There’s nothing wrong with that. Many successful writers have held down other jobs. Kurt Vonnegut still worked as a car dealer after publishing his first novel. Philip Glass was a plumber while he composed music. Many successful writers continue to teach. A second job can provide community, inspiration, and interesting characters. It can keep you sane and get you out in the world instead of insolated in your home with your cat and laptop your only friends. Spending 40 hours a week writing is likely to make you crazy. You don’t want to end up like Jack Torrance, do you?

So, when you’re working on a report for your boss, serving up coffee at Starbucks, or suiting up as a professional wrestler instead of working on your next book, embrace your situation. Your job isn’t a backup, it’s a lifestyle choice.

Happy Writing,

Kelee

 

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Hot For Teacher… Or Student

“Elena could be the best student in the department but she gets distracted easily.”

“You mean by Dr. Stewart?” I immediately regretted bringing him up. The last thing I wanted to know about was a sordid departmental affair.

Nina smiled. “She’s not too subtle about it, is she?”

“Does she stand a chance?”

Nina looked at me a moment, as if considering how much to share. “I don’t know.”

The man made me want to throw up. “It doesn’t seem very ethical, getting involved with one of your students.”

“Dr. Stewart never has a relationship with a student he advises.”

“But anyone else is fair game?”

“I think you’re judging him too harshly. He never makes promises or shows favoritism.”

I was surprised by Nina’s naiveté. “Does he pass out his ground rules with the syllabus?” I said. “’Here’s what you can expect when you sleep with me.’”

She offered me an odd little smile, as if I was the naïve one. “He’s always very honest about his feelings, though I’m sure some women still fall in love with him.”

–excerpt from Goddess

When I first created the character of Dr. Ashland Stewart, I knew I wanted him to have a history of dating much younger students. It would make Julia Nelson, a 40-something mother of three, even more incredulous of the evidence that his lust was now directed towards her. But I was concerned that some readers might be turned off by the hunky archeologist’s professional ethics.

None of my beta readers seemed bothered by Dr. Stewart’s past, but a real-life professor–Laura Kipnis from Northwestern University–received a very different reaction when she defended professor/student romances in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Two students filed a Title IX complaint against her, claiming that her article created a “chilling atmosphere” on reporting sexual assaults.

I’ve certainly had my share of crushes on teachers. A few of them may have had an interest in me, though I was too shy to consider that possibility. Would I have been worse off if I had slept with them? Sometimes yes, when I wasn’t ready to hold my own in a relationship with someone older. But at other times, I could see where taking a relationship from the classroom to the bedroom could have been an opportunity for a lot of fun as well as a great deal of personal growth.

My point is, while some sexual relationships (i.e children and adults) are clearly wrong and imbalanced, it’s unfair to make sweeping indictments when a student and teacher who are both adults want to continue their education between the sheets.

Best Wishes,

Kelee