A. and I had a conversation over dinner the other day about adjusting to life’s changes. She’s currently between jobs and she might be, as she says, “catching up on years of lost sleep”, but she’s not wasting time at all. She’s been brushing up on her skills by taking various online courses, and she’s also currently taking part in NaNoWriMo, writing a mystery novel. We’re both relatively comfortable financially at the moment where she can afford to take some time off and readjust to real life.
This got me thinking as well, because we both understand what it means not to have a job, and especially what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. So many things we’ve put off for one reason or another, whether it be financial or emotional or whatever. I always found this deeply depressing and intensely aggravating, to be honest. Since I was a kid I’d always wanted to be a writer, an artist, and a musician — not one or the other, but all three — but it was hard for me to focus on all of them. They all demand countless hours of practice, knowledge, and labor that a person already working full time may not have time for. This is precisely why it took me until my forties to become a self-published author, and to a lesser extent, why it took me until my forties to dedicate some daily practice time for my music playing. And why, alas, I have never had enough time to focus on art.
I’d said to her that I was both impressed and maybe a little jealous that she now had this time to catch up on all the things she hadn’t been able to do. I would absolutely love to be able to not think about Day Job stress and simply focus on learning the ins and outs of things I’d love to do. I would love to take art classes again — something I haven’t done since high school. I would love to learn how to record multi-track song demos in Spare Oom. I would also love to improve my writing without having to carve out whatever precious time I might have for it.
[Mind you, this is also why I am always angered by those who view the arts as frivolous and not worth federal funds or adequate payment for delivered goods. But that’s another post entirely.]
So what’s happening right now is that I’ve been doing some deep thinking about this. I’ve been contemplating changing up the Day Job for some time, as you already know, and with that change comes the adjustment of other things in my life. This is a perfect time for me to start making a stronger effort to include those ‘extracurricular activities’ in my daily life instead of keeping them at the level of wishful thinking.
I’ve been thinking a lot about life changes lately. A few personal and work-related events had conspired to unfold within the span of a few weeks to take me by surprise and upend a few long term plans I’d had in mind.
Without going into much detail, there may be a change in Day Job situation that, at first, bothered the hell out of me. And rightfully so, considering I’m worried about the time lost when commuting or going to an office. I treasure my writing time and fiercely defend it any way I can. At the time of these personal events, I’d been thinking seriously about a long-term plan to make all that happen.
The personal events had upended all that. Still…I never give up when it comes to my writing. I’m fiercely protective of it. It’s gotten me through a lot worse over the years. It’s not just a lifeline but a spiritual release. And it gives me clarity and drive.
But it wasn’t just about the writing; it was also about making important changes to my life and who I am. After a day or so of flushing the resulting emotional freak-out from my system, I came to the conclusion: It’s time for me to do something about all of this.
It’s time for me to be true to myself again. Far past time.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working out how to make this happen. First off: have a positive outlook. I might not be able to work from home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of writing time. It just means a shift in schedule. It means perhaps heading to the gym later than usual. It means sneaking in some writing time during breaks and lunch times and bus commutes. And continuing with this longer-term plan of changing and improving my life, despite any distractions.
And most importantly, it means not giving up on my dreams and goals. Ever.
It’s time for me to be true to myself again. Far past time.
Earlier this week, just a day after I’d released Meet the Lidwells, I started thinking about a lot of different things related to the writing projects I had going on. I was working out how to publicize the new book while also plugging my trilogy, reading over the chapters of the Apartment Complex story that I was going to read for FOGcon, playing around with my daily words (which are currently focused on In My Blue World), and the evening session words for AC. All while hoping the Day Job wouldn’t cause any delays for everything else. In other words, The Typical Day in the Life of a Writer.
What threw me was that I didn’t feel that moment of wondering if I would ever be a pro writer or if I was just going to continue faking it.
I actually had to stop and think about that for a moment. I’ve been writing for over thirty years now. Sure, most of that time was spent learning, hitting roadblocks and dead-ends, wasting time, getting stuck on the OK Plateau, and trying to figure out what the hell I had to do to make any of this work. I’ve rarely had a crippling self-doubt about it, but I’ve certainly had my moments of wondering if this was as good as I was going to get, and that maybe I’d better focus more on a Day Job career. I hated that feeling with a passion.
Self-publishing the trilogy turned that around; this proved I could achieve the goals I’d set for myself. But what cemented it for me was the release of Meet the Lidwells; that’s when I’d proved to myself that the trilogy wasn’t a fluke or my One Shot at Greatness. [The unexpected icing on the cake, I should add, was the multiple downloads of the Bridgetown Trilogy this past week, thanks to the Smashwords sale. One or two downloads makes me happy; five or six a day all week long felt amazing. I thank all of you new readers for that!!]
That feeling when you suddenly realize you’re exactly where you want to be as a writer, though?
That feels absolutely AMAZING. It took forever to get here, but I’m glad I stayed with it.