I Make Stuff Up for a Living

By Dan Walsh

I should start off my post today (in an effort at full disclosure) by saying my inspiration came from reading my friend Rachel Hauck’s Novel Rocket blog post a couple of weeks ago on April 19th, called, It All Boils down to This… I’m a Writer.

I’ve been writing novels full-time now since 2010, part-time 2 years before that. I’m just about to release Novel #18 on May 15th. I’m not sure, but I think Rachel’s been writing quite a bit longer than me and has more novels published. Still, as I read her blog, I was nodding constantly in agreement.
This is an odd thing that we do, writing novels.

The number who have the good fortune to do this for a living is even a much smaller group (I’ve read it’s only about 5% of published authors). So that makes what I do for a living even more odd.

Other than the author friends I’ve met online, at writers’ conferences and at other various writing events, I don’t know anyone else who does what I do for a living. No one in my church. No one in my family. And I think you could count on one hand the number of people who do this for a living in my town (the greater Daytona Beach area). Now, there may be a handful more who write for a living in my town, but not people who write novels.

Lately, when people ask, “So, what do you do for living?” (this question gets asked in small talk on occasion), I’ve started telling people, “I make stuff up for a living.”

You can imagine the look on their faces. But really, that’s what I do. At least 5 days a week. And I’ve been making stuff up every day, full-time, for the last 7 years. And Lord willing, I intend to keep right on making stuff up for a living for many years to come.

When you stop and think about it, it’s the craziest thing. Imagine people paying you for something like this. And thankfully, paying enough so that for the last 7 years I can do this as my primary “work.” See, even that, I felt the need to put the word work in quotation marks.

Why? Making stuff up hardly feels like work. The crew of guys who sawed down and hauled away the 4 dead trees on my property this week…those gentlemen worked. And what did I do while they were out there doing this work? I sat inside, in the air conditioning, making stuff up.

Perhaps I should feel guilty. Perhaps, on some level, I do.

But I have no plans of letting such latent guilt ruin this good thing I’ve got going on. I’m having way too much fun. I love writing novels. I love coming up with stories that move me, and intrigue me, and provoke me to go looking deeply into things. Deeply enough, that it almost seems like I’m not really making stuff up, but I’ve actually been there myself and lived through everything my characters are experiencing as the story unfolds.

But I’m not. At any moment, I can hit the pause button, step out from some intense scene I’m writing, pet my dog on the head, go out into the kitchen and make myself an ice coffee. Such a thing is only possible to those who make stuff up for a living.

Like me. I write novels. That’s what I do.

Thank you, Rachel, for helping me shed some of this latent guilt for having such a crazy job. We’ve got nothing to be sorry for, right? Making up stories and writing them down for other people to enjoy (and, hopefully, be inspired by) has been going on for ages.

Maybe we should start a support group. Or, since we live so far apart, a blog on the internet. Where other writers who make stuff up all day can come and share their experiences with each other and with other sojourners considering a similar path.

We could call it something like…Novel Rocket.

Well, my time’s up. What better way to end this than with a shameless plug? I’m about to release (as I said) Novel #18 in a couple of weeks. It’s called, Unintended Consequences. Click on THIS LINK to get a preview.

And yes, when you’re reading it, everything will feel like it’s all true. Like it really happened. But don’t be fooled…I made the whole thing up.

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Don’t be fooled…I made the whole thing up.~ Dan Walsh (Click to Tweet)

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 17 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, The Reunion and When Night Comes. He has won 3 Carol Awards (finalist 6 times) and 3 Selah Awards. Three of his books were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year (RT Book Reviews). Dan is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach area where they love to take walks and spend time with their grandkids. Click here to connect with Dan or check out his books.