First of all I would like to say hello to you all, I am new to the site and forum. I hope I have added this question to the relevant forum thread, however I apologise if I have not. I have actually been trying to research this query for quite a while now, however have come up empty; which is why I have decided to share my dilemma with all of you.
I served in the British Army for 13 years, after which time I was medically discharged after sustaining a serious spinal injury whilst on operational tour. Unfortunately I had a further 11 years remaining on my service and so leaving the Army at this stage of the game came as a huge shock. My injury was very serious and resulted in major disabilities, however the most difficult part of the injury has been the constant pain and managing it; on top of the other problems that occur from long term chronic pain.
Being incredibly restricted, my employment options have been drastically reduced, in fact, I am ashamed to say that I am in receipt of disability benefits. I have been out of the Army for the past 5 years and in this time I have been doing the only thing I can; writing.
However, this is my dilemma. Over the 5 years, I have written many drafts of a story that has changed goodness knows how many times, but I have finally produced a draft I am happy with. I am incredibly reluctant to call myself a writer, the way I see it, I am not a writer until I have been published in one way or another. My plan now is to find an agent, who will hopefully like what I have written and have my story published, my first novel. My problem is how would this all affect my benefits?
As much as I want nothing more than to be free of the benefit system, I have a wife and three children. Although my wife works full time, we still rely on the money I get from disability. I know that when a writer gets his or her first book published, there really isn't a lot of money involved. Even if I was intelligent enough to produce two novels every year, I simply couldn't, on account of my disability, pain and medication in take. However, at the same time to get a book published, for me personally is all I want. I want to accomplish something my children can be proud of me for. Unfortunately I know how the government work and as soon as I declared that I had written a book, despite the fact it has taken almost five years, they would deem me fit to work and withdraw any help we currently receive.
I apologise for the length of this post, however I appreciate your time and understanding and hope that one of you will be able to shed some light on this matter. Once again thank you in advance for any help you can shed on this matter and I look forward to getting to know you all in the future.