19 June 2013
Posted in General
Stephen Potts on how he combines careers in medicine and writing
A few years ago I stood at a crossroads, uncertain which way to go. Should I quit the day job and throw myself into writing full-time, or continue trying to combine the two? I wrote about the decision in this magazine, and many readers offered advice. As so often, events – two young children – took over and made my decision for me. I could inflict the financial uncertainties of a full-time writer’s life upon myself, but not upon my family. So I carried on, and now find myself invited by the editor to offer views on the day job question.
I read somewhere that only 15% of published writers earn a living from their writing. So nearly all of us need a day job, raising questions about how we regard it; how it relates to the writing; how we assign our time and energies between day job and our writing projects; and how we shut off from one when engaged in the other.
My day job is in medicine. I’m a psychiatrist in a busy general hospital, seeing people in A&E, the medical and surgical wards, and the transplant unit. Medicine is a notoriously hard task master, and I bemoaned its ‘all or nothing’ nature in my earlier article. I’ve worked part-time for most of the past 16 years, though currently part-time means 36 hours a week plus one weekend in four on call. This is far too much like full-time work for me, but if I am to do less, someone else has to do more, and that’s not been an option for some time, though I live in hope.
There is one day a week when I am not in the hospital. I try to be ruthless in protecting my writing Wednesdays, though I do still get calls. I suppress irritation about them, aware that writers’ day jobs are often resented. In the extreme (and I am not here talking about my own job) they leech upon our time, our energies, our enthusiasms, perhaps our creative sparks: and we endure them only for the income they bring, for they offer nothing reciprocal in the way of new perspectives, new insights or new skills to carry into our writing lives. If it is hard for a non-writer to get up each day and drag her weary frame into a dreary workplace, then – perhaps – how much harder for a writer who wants to break free, who scribbles and taps away in stolen moments, and dreams nightly of the Big Break which will allow her to walk into the boss’s office with a smirk and tell him where to put his P45. But if the Big Break doesn’t come, going to work each day with that extra burden of desperate hope will eventually become intolerable.
18 June 2013
Posted in Theatre
The American-born playwright Olwen Wymark, who spent much of her working life in England and was a long-standing member of the Writers' Guild, has died.
Her plays include Find Me, Gymnasium, Loved, Best Friends and Strike Up The Banns. Olwen also wrote for extensively for radio and television.
Olwen was Chair of the Writers' Guild Theatre Committee for many years.
A full obituary will appear soon.