If you don't want to get bored, I would suggest you directly jump to section 2. But if you have a couple of extra minutes, and interested in knowing my background (aka Ram Kahani), you can reach there via section 1.
Preface: We live in a world where job satisfaction together with financial fulfillment is a luxury to have. And I am entangled in a similar kind of dilemma. I am thinking of leaving my well-paying job to satisfy my writer's itch. To know more, read on.
As an introduction, I would say I am your just-another-routine-software-guy: engineering graduate from a not-so-known state level engineering college, working in a big Indian 'IT giant' for the last 2 years, and doing the same age old repetitive testing and support tasks (which non-IT guys confuse as niche or high-end technological). In short, there is nothing extraordinary about my profile and, for the sake of your imagination, I can assume the face of anybody you know in IT.
After 2 years of mundane projects, amidst long and annoying team meetings, and countless sulking sessions over coffee with friends, a truth dawned upon me and took the form of a Halo; that I don't like the job which I was doing right now. And you cannot expect to excel in a job that you don't like. I read someone giving Gyan on PagalGuy that if you wake up in the morning and don't feel motivated enough to go to your office, there is something fundamentally wrong with the kind of job that you are doing. I guess this line pretty much describes the condition that I am in.
'Then, what do you like?', I can hear you asking. Well, I like to read and write. A lot. I was the student editor of our school magazine in classes 11th and 12th . I was a modest reader at that time and the skill came naturally to me. But after school, I felt a mysterious drive to follow the herd-mentality (which loosely translates to 'opting for engineering') and I eventually landed into an isolated cubicle of an IT company.
I love to read- mostly fiction- and I can lock myself in a room and spend any number of hours in the company of books. My romance with books started in college final year when I started reading Indian 'chick lit', and it gradually converted me into an avid reader. But the real turning point came when in March'12, I accidentally laid my hands on 'Midnight's Children' by Salman Rushdie and the prose sucked me in. I became hooked and within a matter of around 8 months, I had finished some 25+ books (thanks Flipkart). Writers like J.M. Coetzee, David Mitchell and Haruki Murakami occupied the top slots of my favorite writers list and, unknowingly, I myself started to fantasize about becoming a big writer one day ('fantasize' being the keyword here).
I am also an occasional blogger too (I have to use the word 'occasional' courtesy my busy project schedule) and my blog on the company's internal blogspace is being followed and appreciated by many ('widespread acclaim' would be too big a phrase). I have written a few short stories and the praises by anonymous people have lulled me into believing that I can write fiction. And it wouldn't be an understatement if I say reading and writing has become my passion.
After some 3-4 months of oscillating between 'job safety and financial security' and 'following my passion', I am seriously considering giving the latter one a try. That is to say, I am in a mood to leave IT altogether and explore prospects of a job in literary world. And this is the point of this post as I have a very foggy idea of the sector.
Note: In case you are coming here through section 1 and still reading further, I appreciate your patience.
Here are my questions:
1. What kind of people do publishing houses take? Do they remain restricted to English or journalism graduates? Or would they be ready to put their faith in someone from an engineering/IT background?
2. Can someone give me an idea how difficult it is to get a job there. And what kind of salary can I expect. Right now I am earning around 28k and I know I cannot expect this much in any publishing house given that I would be a fresher there. But would it be at least sufficient enough to sustain myself during the initial days of struggle?
3. What are the growth prospects if I make this switch? Where can I expect to be after 5 years down the line? I am thinking long term here.
4. How about pursuing a Masters in creative writing? I have heard about big universities abroad (University of East Anglia, etc), but they would be very costly. Any idea about loans and scholarships that would come handy? Or any good option in India itself for the same?
If you or any of your friends/relatives are in such a job, I would appreciate if you can come up with inputs or suggestions. Any piece of information is valuable to me, be it the job profile, the working culture or just anything. So, please don't hesitate in pouring in with your replies.
Of course, I can always review my decision and switch back to IT if I find literary sector not rewarding in the long run. But right now, this writer's itch is overpowering everything else and I am serious about taking a break from my current job and do something that I always wanted to do. Don't they say, you have only one life (Zindagi naa milegi dobara).
P.S.-- The length of this post can give you an idea how big a writer's itch I have .