Wednesday, March 7, 2012
For this months IWSG, I'd like to acknowledge those of us with day jobs and aspiring/or published writing careers. No I'm not going to give a long list bloggers I know with day jobs - I'd probably leave a lot of people out by accident or ignorance - and I'm not diminishing the writing efforts of those who are able to make writing either their full time job, or fit it into a stay-at-home domestic arrangement.
Some lucky few are able to integrate their blogging needs with day jobs - and I gotta say I'm jealous of you SOBs. But mostly, a day job (and I'm including those working on a college degree in this) and writing career doesn't mesh without loads of effort. We sacrifice sleep, family time, social interraction, and sometimes financial gain (overtime, promotion, employment changes) for the writing obsession.
For me, this is the second time I've put my family through the insecure hardships of a dream.
I was about 32 when I rediscovered my social worker career goal. I took a few general education classes, got discouraged, and married again for the third time in hopes of financial security. (Yeah, I liked the guy too.) After a while - and another baby - our marriage started to sour as the day care expenses (I had two young children from a previous marriage) of part time, minimum wage jobs for me exceeded our combined income and expenses, and I decided it was in our best interest for me to commit to a college degree. Nah, the marriage didn't survive the change of focus from present needs to future goals.
My kids and I suffered a lot of deprivation and hardships while I obtained my social worker degrree; but the eventual employment paid off in triple the income. We still struggle with the payments on the student loans, the cost of living in a single parent household; but our lives are better overall. I am earning as much in my five years of employment off my bachelors degree as my ex husband does from 18 years on his steady employment at the same company. For me, the risk paid off.
Now I spend all my free time on the blogs, or at ftf writer's group, or working on the next writing poject. As happened with the college interlude, dinner is usually a frozen find-it-eat-it affair; "homework" involves blog posts, writing/research sessions, researching/querying agents/publishers; beta reading and critiquing. All these writerly activities I involve myself in are unpaid; yet they fulfill an aspect along my writing journey.
My kids (because I have no supportive spouse) just have to understand all my efforts at a writing career will eventually pay off for a future that may not involve them financially as they move out and attain livs of their own. They saw my efforts pay off before with the college degree; they believe I'll make this endeavor a success.
I hope their faith is not misplaced.
While I toil away at an unsure future in publication, I also strive at my day job to pay the bills. I seek out overtime opportunities. I go to work on days I know most workers are calling in sick. I take my responsibilities as a lead worker seriously. I embrace my hard won career in social services (6 years in April). I never forget I have bills to pay, mouths to feed, clients who depend on my presence in the office.
Some days though, all that stress just builds up and I just want to bury myself in someone else's success (ie, a published novel).
My thought is that all writers sacrifice for the dream. That sacrifice is not always readily apparant to others in our lives as we squeee over notification our short story has been published in a free e-zine, our an agent/publisher has requested a partial or full submission of our manuscript. But we, as authors, know what our end goal is, and what we have given up to achieve it. We work towards balance. We work towards personal goals. We work for craft and potential readership. We protect the present as best we can while striving for a day in the future when all our efforts bear fruition.
We do what we can. We do what we must. And we have hope that the future will pay off if we are diligent in persuit of our long term goals.
I want to take this opportunity to applaude the working writer; be it a paying day job, a college degree, or freelance job working a deadline, we all have the same distractive issues to the completion of a writing project.
Last Friday my supervisor sat at my desk and asked what my weekend plans were. We're a small unit, I'm his second in command, and we were killing ten minutes to quitting time. I told him I had two book reviews with author interviews to send off in e-mail, a beta read that is requesting full critique, and I'd really like to make some progress on a couple novela's I've started writing on. I also admitted I might just take the weekend off and read a book.
He knows me pretty well and asked if I was reading for pleasure or review.
I admitted I wouldn't read anything I didn't intend to review on my blog.
He asked if the beta reads and critiques were the same as the novel reviews.
I said no, a critique and a review were vastly different types of writing endeavors. A critique is offered to assist a writer in the publication effort; a review showcases a novel's good points after publication.
He said it sounded like a lot of work.
I nodded my agreement.