Happy V-Day. Here’s Your Sonnet.

Up here in the SF Novelists’ orbiting headquarters we’ve been talking about the merits and drawbacks of becoming a full time writer, as you may have gathered from David’s post from yesterday, and Tobias’ entry from a few days ago.

Me, I’m in the middle — I have a half-time day job as a programmer, and in the afternoons I go hang out in coffee shops with my laptop. But I was interested to hear the range of opinions and experiences. Some people said they could never afford to go full time (at least until the US got universal health insurance). Some were going like gang busters. Some were doing it and just scraping by. And some had done it but were forced to go back to a day job for financial reasons.

The group that surprised me were the people who had chosen to go back to a day job because it made them better and more productive as writers. There was something onerous  about turning an avocation, something that they used to do just for the love,  into a job.   

Which inspired the following (tongue in cheek) sonnet. Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody. 

For the Love of It:
A Valentine sonnet to those considering a literary career, or those already hip deep in one

Consider, on this holiday of love,
reclaiming  that word “amateur” from those
who’d wield it like a shepherd’s crook to shove
those unpaid lambs from sheep called “pros.”

For what are pros but fools who rush to spend
a year and all the cash that they’ve compiled
to write a book that makes less, in the end,
than what they paid the girl who watched their child.

And science fiction? Oh, don’t get me started.
A novice sure that he’s a King or Rowling
is soon in debt, divorced, and broken-hearted,
and wishing that he’d simply tried out bowling.

But if you can’t resist the market’s lure,
For God’s sake, please write like an amateur.

—Daryl Gregory

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There are 4 comments. Get the RSS feed for comments on this entry.

  1. 1. LJCohen


    I enjoyed your sonnet.

  2. 2. S.C. Butler

    Rowling/bowling? Lure/amateur? Genius!

    You get any ‘pro’ writing done today?

  3. 3. Marie Brennan

    Indeed, we should all be doing it for the love of the craft. The paychecks are nice, but how many years on average does a writer spend slogging along without one?

  4. 4. bob charters

    i wrote my true love a sonnet
    she took it and she sat on it

Author Information

Daryl Gregory

Daryl's a science fiction writer who lives in State College, PA. Several of his short stories have appeared in "Year's Best" anthologies, and his first novel, PANDEMONIUM, will appearing in Fall 2008 from Del Rey Books. Visit site.



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