Like many writers I know, I write around the work I am paid to do—the “day job.” While I don’t mean for the writing to take a back seat, that often seems to be the result. I’ve been in publishing for over 25 years, have 13 titles available (most still in print) and a 14th in the final stages of production. I maintain a website and have a paid publicist/web designer who sometimes earns more than I do. Nevertheless, criticism about the “dilettantes” and “hobbyists” in the writing world still makes me squirm.
Is it guilt because I know I could probably find a few more hours a week if I was willing to sacrifice sleep or couple time with my honey or the few small efforts I make in the community? Am I squirming because I sometimes hit periods of exhaustion when the words won’t come or occasionally suffer crises of confidence that make me erase everything on the screen? Or am I worried I may really be treating the work as if it were my hobby and not the one thing I’ve aspired all my life to do?
I suspect the answer is D. All of the above. If I were brave enough, perhaps I could break free of the day job and live with the consequences until the royalties began flowing in. Then again, what if they don’t? See? I’m back to that crisis of confidence again.
The stories are many and varied about the writers who’ve lived in their cars or on other people’s couches (J.K. Rowling being the current favorite) because they believed so fully in their own work. Did the world have hostages it held until the royalties came? Because I did: I had a family. And since I still have people in my life, even if they aren’t dependent anymore, I still have hostages—at least to some degree.
For now I’m going to go on writing fiction around the day job and creating fantasies in my head about being brave enough to leap. Maybe those will be the best stories of all.