Don’t give up the day job

Most dreamers should not leap, the article ‘So you want to be an artist’ in Saturday’s FT Weekend magazine said. Even if you are sure that it’s your vocation, you are most likely wrong. Oh no! I’ve always wanted to write comedy. And now this article is telling me to give up!

I was hooked. I had to read the article to the end, even though it was depressing me. If you want to be an artist, writer, film producer, basically anything creative, the article said that you should probably have embarked on it aged 18 instead of making a living first.

Roman statue

I wonder if the Roman sculptor dreamt of being an accountant? Perhaps they wanted to escape wage slavery… or just slavery

Oh, is that like the teenager who wrote a vampire tale: Fangs for the six-figure book deal? That was the Sunday Times headline. I think you were meant to laugh. Only I didn’t. This weekend was not going well. Another depressing story I had to read. Depressing because Abigail Gibbs was, in fact, 18. And I’m not. Good for her, I willed myself to think.

Actually it was only her age that got me down. Because the next paragraph was what I like to read: Gibbs is an “internet sensation” with 17m hits for chapters of her debut novel. She posted regularly on the social reading website Wattpad, a “publishing phenomenon with millions of readers”, the ST said.

Now that got my attention. And she had posted her vampire story, chapter by chapter – but not the ending. She has nearly 100,000 web followers who want to know what happens. And guess what? They have to buy the book to find out.

By the end of the weekend, I had decided age is no barrier to success. You need to work to live. Make sure you enjoy your work but enjoy your life even more by pursuing those dreams – no matter how old you are. The internet is making anything possible.

What about you? Should you give up the day job? Should you stop dreaming because you are too old? Can we embark on different careers at 30, 40, 50, 60 and beyond? 

September 10, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Blogging, Comedy, Comedy writing, Publishing, Writing.


  1. A.J.Race replied:

    Smart girl that. Leave them hanging so they have to buy it, that’s just brilliant marketing. Never give up regardless of age. :). If its meant to happen it will.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Yes, great marketing ploy. I wonder how many will buy?

      • A.J.Race replied:

        I guess that depends on how much they liked the book and if the price is right.

  2. Gina replied:

    First thing, you don’t have to be a sensation to be a success. So some teen has jumped on the vampire bandwagon (surely it’s a convoy of vampire bandwagons now…?) Good for her but the arts are littered with bright young things who burnt out too soon and lived with bitterness or poverty (or both) for the rest of their lives unable to recreate their early success. Yes, we can embark on different careers at virtually any point in our lives but maturity brings a wisdom and sense that only certain dreams are achievable. I think that’s a good thing. So speaks a knackered middle aged woman with backache and a unpublished novel lurking in a drawer somewhere…

  3. hannah meiklejohn replied:

    That’s a terrible message by the magazine! Why should we be told not pursue anything creative just because we are post-18?!

    Two cliched, but very applicable expressions come to mind here – “it’s never too late” (or similarly, “you’re never to old”) and “it’s not the times you failed that you live to regret, it the times you didn’t bother trying”.

  4. Jennifer Simpson replied:

    I agree with Gina… we need to learn to redefine success: if you’re doing what you love, then THAT is success. I often go back to the book THE ARTISTS’ WAY by Julia Cameron, remembering (I must have lent my copy out) her saying that there are many ways to live the creative life, and sometimes just acknowledging that you ARE doing the things you want to do and enjoy, that it doesn’t always have to be about money (ok, some money would be nice), or fame (who wants all that paparazzi anyway) but that it’s about getting your work out there into the world.

    Either way, I don’t think that age has anything to do with it, and if you stop dreaming it’s time to die…

  5. Carrie Rubin replied:

    I think just as much can be said for doing it the other way around–get a “real” job so you have something to fall back on should the creative thing not work out. Of course, I’m probably just saying that because I’m old… 🙂

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      No – I agree with this approach. We have to put food on the table and roofs over our heads! Then we can dream…

  6. mskatykins replied:

    Er – I have just given up the day job! Yeeshk! Starting to get the panic attacks, but there’s no way back. I start my one year uni course this week, it’s already cost me my job and 5 grand, but do you know what, you only have one life and you’re quite right – you work to live not the other way round! Age, smage, just you go for it, WBD! 😀

    Btw, got myself a FB page now. I have no idea how to use it, but I’ve got one… ha! How is yours going? 🙂

  7. jmmcdowell replied:

    I don’t think age is the factor so much as the drive and spirit to try something new. At eighteen, I had no idea I’d ever want to write novels. And I’ve enjoyed the life I’ve lived before the Muse lassoed me with some ideas. I can apply some of life’s lessons to characters and settings in the books. And I won’t be living on the street if they’re not successful!

  8. valeriedavies replied:

    If it’s any comfort to you young things, I’m pushing 75, and self-published my book this year, and started writing a blog ( not too good with the technology – just mastering taking pics with my grand daughters help.)
    The book. is anyone’s interested, is The Sound of Water, and you can find out about it on my blog

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      That’s what I like to hear! Grab every moment. I’ll check out your book.

  9. 4amWriter replied:

    Well, seeing as how my day job right now is being a stay-at-home mom, I might not have much choice!

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Would be an interesting concept to give that up! Go on strike for a day!

  10. Sheila replied:

    We get old when we stop dreaming so it seems best to go on dreaming that impossible dream. 🙂

  11. Subtlekate replied:

    I like her strategy and it sounds like she’s used social networking to her advantage. I’m about 10 years too late to social networking.
    I’m not going to give up the day job because I love it and it’s what I want to do, but I do love having this creative side and being about to scratch it. If however, the creative element was the one that I was drawn to as my day job, I would go for it, no matter age. There is such a short amount of time to be happy and I want to take advantage of every day. When you think about it, we need very little to live happily and downsizing so you can afford to pursue your dream is doable.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      I like the idea of downsizing to pursue your dream. In fact, we shouldn’t leave it until it’s all too late…

  12. Pauline Guerin replied:

    I hate hate hate all this ageism which still exists today. It has to be the one last taboo practically, and it’s one I think we should work hard to break. I agree with so many of the comments here that if one stops dreaming, one might as well give up the ghost; why should we? just because the hair is greying slightly, and things are heading south. The aging process, for me, is scary enough without being told that I’m useless and should be put out to grass by some ageist young journalist. Everything is about the young, and it’s about time we invested a bit more in the older generation. I too have a book languishing in a drawer (pc folder), I have to work to live so progress is slow, but I jolly well will finish it, and get it published, somehow. I’m still dreaming of that day and will continue to do so. After that I will dream about the next one.

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