A friend of mine from Inklusiiv was looking for entrepreneurial stories to share as part of their I Started This campaign to encourage young people to pursue their dreams.
I, uh, alright. Alright, let’s go. Big boy pants: on.
So what is an entrepreneur? I never really knew, to be honest, aside from the hilarious urban legend that stated it was a thing the French had no word for.
I looked it up, and found that in general terms an entrepreneur was a person who starts up a small business, taking on most of the risk and thus most of the reward.
Well, by that standard I am an entrepreneur … aaaaand I’m not.
For as long as I’ve lived, I’ve been a fucking space cadet. As soon as I learned to read, that part of me took over irretrievably. And as soon as I learned to write, that was it. End-state Andrew Hindle is me sitting with a pencil and pad, or planted in front of a screen with a keyboard under his hands. This is me until the day I keel over in the middle of a coffee run.
So naturally, and by every metric offered to me by the wisdom of BuzzFeed and departments of employment in two hemispheres, I became a writer.
But am I an entrepreneur?
Kind of, I guess. When I got cancer in 2011, I made a book out of the social media posts I’d made and the replies I’d received, from earliest symptoms to final clean bill of health. I considered trying to get it traditionally published, but decided I didn’t want to have to ask approval from anybody else, or suffer editing from someone who had no clue. It was too personal, and so I published through Amazon.
Public service announcement by way of interlude to break up the wall of text.
Since then, I’ve released a lot of other stories on Amazon, although I bent a little on editors and am still casually interested in pursuing a traditional author career. It comes down to a paradox:
- Some people say that if you find what you love and get a job doing it, you will never have to work a day in your life.
- Others say that if you find what you love and get a job doing it, then what you love will become work.
They’re both right.
I reap a lot of the reward for my storytelling. Amazon is big and ugly and faceless and its ruthless business model gives small-time creators the chance to make a bit of money – and big-time creators a lot of money. I flew my family to Dublin for five days, airfares and accommodation included, in 2019, just on my Amazon royalties. It’s still definitely small-time, but it felt good.
But risks? No, I don’t take risks. I work a day job. I like to say I write books that few read. Because I don’t want my family to starve, I write instruction manuals that nobody reads. There’s nowhere near enough chance of success for me to drop my work as a technical writer and pursue my dream of being an author. It would be irresponsible. I’m locked into the capitalist system and I have bills to pay, damn it.
As stated here by Asim Qureshi. I don’t think there’s shame in taking advantage of the privilege of risk, but it is a privilege. If the only harm is to yourself, the rewards can be well worth it.
But right now, I can have my cake and eat it too. The higher education I received in pursuit of my end-state of perpetual writing? It just happened to drop me into the weird, delightful little world of technical documentation, a career I greatly enjoy and can do as naturally as breathing. And since I get paid for it, I don’t need to wring every last drop of joy out of my storytelling in order to convert it into capitalist nightmare fuel.
I write. And in my time off, I write. Find what you love, and get a job doing it.
“But risks? No, I don’t take risks.”
Really? Why such a narrow definition of risk? You’re selling yourself short.
You don’t think you ever take a risk putting yourself and your stories out there? Who knows who you’ll end up sitting on a bookshelf next to, not talking about your own DAD or anything like that of course…
I guess there’s an inherent risk in publicising my cherished stories, but it’s mainly a risk of abject nobodity or else the occasional insulting review. That’s fine.
There’s also a risk in putting my ideological / political / personal views on social media. You never know when a Facebook comment, tweet, or blog post will find just the right person and explode into online infamy. Like they say, every day a new person is the star of social media. The trick is to never be that person.
As for bookshelves, I’ll take that bet. For every Dawkins I end up next to, I could end up next to a Lynch or a Pratchett.
Okay, I’m mollified by your last sentence. That made me smile. Toon-tanty officially over.
You too, Toonster. Thanks for giving my self-indulgence the light friendly slapping it deserved.
Well yes we all take risks, but a risk in a career generally means leaving yourself open to a potential period of unemployment or the like, as you go all in on what you love. Often I feel guilty I don’t take more risks in opposing the budding fascism (sorry for using a pleasant expression there) in America. but I also have a wife, kids, and 4 cats who rely on me financially and otherwise (and a mom who just lost her husband also for the otherwise bit), and I can’t take the risk of some Proud Boy chud shooting me in the street.
The risk is small in any particular protest, but still too large for me.
Sure would’ve been nice of Amazon to have left my reviews of your books alone 😡
What happened to your reviews?
Your reviews of my books need all the help they can get