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.