Welcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!!
Today, in keeping with the theme of Kacey Hammell’s post on Saturday, and Moira Callahan’s post yesterday, I’d like to talk about balancing work, work, and life. No, you’re not seeing double. I said WORK twice on purpose.
I have one of those full time “day” jobs outside the home. I will likely have one of those full time “day” jobs outside the home until they drag my ass out of the chair and force me to go home, clutching my Medicare card in one hand and my meager Social Security check in the other. In other words, the idea of being able to afford to retire from said day job seems like a great cosmic joke right now. I could no sooner live off my royalties than I could sprout wings and fly.
And that, my dear readers, is the reality of most writers. We aren’t rich. We don’t drive fancy cars, and we don’t live in mansions. Those fortunate enough to hit the best seller lists everywhere do so not necessarily because they write better than the rest of us, but because of other factors.
But their life is not my life, and that proverbial grass ain’t always greener, so… this isn’t a post about what they have and what I do not have. It’s a post about MY life and how I balance (or try to balance) everything in it.
Yes, I’m a prolific writer. IF I was home full time I would write more than I do now, simply because of time constraints. But honestly? Even on the weekends, during which 99% of the time I’m free to write all day, I don’t accomplish that much more in terms of word count than I do during the odd weekday when I actually have free time to write. In other words, I’m likely already close to doing what I am capable of doing. 🙂 It’s a comforting thought.
I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. It’s not an exaggeration. I didn’t get serious about this until roughly twenty-three years ago, and then it took another ten or so to get really serious about it. Eleven years after that, I was published for the first time. Like Kacey said on Saturday, it’s not a race. And I still struggle with the way I treat my writing career.
Believe me when I tell you I WISH I could treat this like a business full time, but again, I’m bound by constraints. For one thing, my full time job is about to change drastically beginning today. I will no longer have the freedom during the workday to sneak in writing. I need to schedule my writing, and plan for it, and STICK TO THE PLAN. Otherwise my submissions to Evernight will drop off, sales will fall, and well, you know the rest.
I suppose some would say that IS treating it like a business, and they would be right. I had a change in life circumstances that I had little control over, I’ve had to reorganize my free time to write, so in response I made a solid, REALISTIC plan to do so. Okay, then. Off I go.
Am I afraid? Hell yes. This change in my day job is a new role for me. It affords me the chance to stay at my company, and stay at my current salary, but the learning curve in the new role is still there.
Am I worried I won’t have time to write? Yes, I am. I know that on paper I DO have the time, which means I have to COMMIT to this and then have enough DISCIPLINE to stick to it.
Well, we all know that our characters don’t always cooperate with schedules and plans. In fact, because schedules and plans are stressors, those characters often fly the coop until we’re feeling a bit calmer. Can you see how this could easily become an endless circle?
But this is life. This is reality. We have debts to pay, food to buy, utilities to pay, a mortgage, a car payment, medical expenses, etc., etc., etc. That’s real life. I didn’t marry a man who is a genius with money. He’s a fabulous husband and father to our daughter, and he loves me fiercely, but he isn’t a financial wizard. We aren’t set for our retirement. There are no long range plans, and there are no large sums of cash sitting around, waiting for us to spend them. That’s my reality, and like every other human on this planet, I can only play the hand I was dealt.
I’m still blessed compared to most, and believe me I DO know that.
I write because I HAVE to. Because to not write, after waiting forty-five years to become a published writer, is unthinkable. That little eight-year-old girl dreamed about being published one day, and now I am. So to stop is simply a ridiculous notion. This is who I am. This is what I was MEANT to be. I AM A WRITER.
The day job is a means to an end. I didn’t wake up one day and dream of working at an insurance company, anymore than I woke up one day and dreamed of becoming a nurse. How I ended up going to nursing school is another story, for another blog post.
I am VERY grateful for the day job. I truly am. Without it, well, I don’t want to imagine what our lives would be like if I didn’t have this income. Not pretty.
But I live to write. It’s what I do first thing in the morning, along with all the other promotion and social media stuff we do as published authors. It’s what I think about doing while I’m doing other stuff, including work. And it’s what I do as soon as I’m home and have time without other responsibilities crowding in.
I dream about my books, my characters, and new ideas. I plan the current and future stories while showering and driving. Like many writers I know, my best ideas come during both those events. Go figure!
I would rather write than breathe. I work at the day job because I have to, but I write because I WANT to.