If you aren’t a writer, you probably missed the guest post by Tom Schreck at Joe Konrath’s blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. I think if you aren’t a writer, on the whole it might not interest you, but there is one section where Tom talks about how he is not a risk taker. Joe picks up on that in his commentary and I found both of their observations interesting not just as a writer but as a person.
Gambling in this case means devoting time and effort to something that may never pay off. It means devoting your energy to something beyond what the world says you should be doing.
What struck me about this is that the level of risk is different for everyone, and that’s okay, as long as you are gambling something. Tom has a full time job and a couple of part time gigs which pay his bills, leaving him only a small time to write. On the other hand, Joe threw everything into the pot of self-publishing at a time when it was still very stigmatized in the book world, risking pretty much everything: his reputation, his income, his dreams.
We get so much advice about taking risks that mostly tell us to JUST DO IT that it is overwhelming and makes us feel like losers if we don’t throw everything to the wind right now. But the point isn’t to jump in with both feet and no parachute, the point is to jump.
Tom is taking a risk with his writing career, because there is no guarantee it will pay off. Sensible people say, “don’t give up your day job” and he’s not, but neither is that the only iron in his fire. He’s writing because he loves it, and he’s publishing because it’s a risk he’s comfortable with.
It’s not about how large of a risk we take or how much we gamble; it’s that when we stop taking those risks, however small, that we lose a part of ourselves.