I write this entry in abject misery, sitting in a coffee shop during lunch break from my soul-sucking job. You know, that thing you do so you don’t actually starve while being a starving artist. Yeah, that thing is especially important when you have kids to feed, too.
I was a bit late out of the gate when I finally (re)turned to writing. Like many story-tellers, I loved writing when I was younger. My imagination was so vivid, sparked by my mother’s love of all things Lord of the Rings and my father’s love of all things Star Trek. As time passed and pressure to ‘pick a career’ mounted, I put aside the writerly tinkerings of youth and worked on … well … work.
But story ideas never stopped percolating in my brain until, at last, I realized I just had to do it. Put one word after the other and see what happened. Tell the story that spoke to me.
Then a terrible thing happened.
I loved it.
Oh, sweet words. Story. Conflict. Growth. Climax!
(Sorry, overheated a moment there.)
But my newfound love brought the most dreadful of longings—dreams.
Dreams that I could make a living writing and telling stories. Sharing the ideas I had with others in a meaningful way. Wouldn’t that just be the best?!
Reality and dreams are constantly in conflict. To become a writer, you actually have to treat writing as a job. To do that takes time, dedication, and above all, application of craft into actual content. Real books and real stories and real social presence and all the rest of that mumbo-jumbo.
Some people are in the fortunate position of being able to easily balance their dreams with the realities of living. They might have passive income from other sources, or a spouse who makes enough money. They may not have kids, and so have time to get a career off the ground before even contemplating whether that’s a path they want to tackle.
On the other side, some people have it even harder than me. Crazy family life that allows for only stolen moments of clickety-clack on the keyboard. Two jobs. Health problems.
Life has its ebbs and flows, and the only thing I’ve learned trying to balance job and dream is that it’s not always possible to do so.
Sometimes, you have to hunker down and scribble a few precious notes on your story during coffee breaks or stopped at red-lights during your commute. Other times, you have to throw off the shackles that bind you to the bank account and immerse yourself in words and dreams. Devote yourself, however briefly, to the intensity of your desires.
During certain, lovely moments, they seem to harmoniously co-exist. Job and dream; work and write. A sweet spot when it all seems possible.
Then the shit hits the proverbial fan (or literal fan, as once happened with goose droppings and the ventilation system at my workplace), and you’re back to living under siege and precariously on edge.
But dammit, keep plugging away. Strive to make your word count; your revision deadline; your publication date. One day you might just be able to give up the day-job.
Hey, a girl’s gotta dream, right?
This is an entry from my bestselling* book, A is for Adverb: An Alphabet for Authors in Agony. To read the entire alphabet, join me weekly for #WriteTip Tuesday. If you’re in a rush, get the whole book free by signing up here, or do this writer a solid and buy the book on Amazon.
*Totally a bestseller for, like, a day on Amazon.ca.