Tuesday, February 23, 2010
This post is based on a poll I saw recently which asked writers if they were willing to give up their day job in order to write more. The majority of writers said 'yes', only a fraction said they wanted to keep their job for the sake of stability and the dependable paycheck. That poll went right along with all of the tweets and comments and posts I've seen from writers all over the web, wishing they could stay home 24/7 to write.
While I give a nod to those writers and say 'Yep, I feel that way too!', the point is that we need to start looking at our day jobs a little differently.
This includes all of you who are a stay at home moms (otherwise known as 24/7 babysitter, cook, taxi driver, shopper, cleaner, fixer of all booboos for offspring), teachers (yes, you people who work 7-3 every day, are necessarily over-the-top nice to someone else's offspring even if they are bwats who make you obsess to unhealthy extremes about corporal punishment) and then come home and grade papers and set up work for next day all afternoon and evening), IT professionals (work 7-5 every day, work remotely at home fixing or creating programs, while you also remain on call the rest of the day and night in case you have to go in to work to fix something), etc...
Getting up early in the morning is not a happy prospective - especially when you mentally count up all of the mornings you have to do this until you reach retirement age (YEARS!). <- This retirement expectation part doesn't include SAHM's, because of course they never retire. They just move up into a posher management position with fringe benefits (spoil grandkids and blissfully send them home) after graduation.
While we moan and groan about our jobs and our plebeian existence, it is important to consider how much experience we get every day. We interact with different people and get to view all the facets of life - which we then get to knowledgeably plague our characters with.
If you have a day job away from home, you get to hang out with adults during the day and learn new ways to build characters. Yes. This includes those evil coworkers who make you think of those horror movies where a person digs fingernails into floor and loses them in a bloody cuticle massacre while a monster drags them away by their feet.
If you are home with your kids, then you know more than anyone else what kids are into and what they read. Well, either that or you get very good at escapist fantasies in galaxies and dimensions farfaraway while you change diapers and listen to the endless cackle of Spongebob from the TV.
The other thing is that although most of us dayworkers only get 1-5 hours of writing time in the evening, we learn to value that time and make the most of it. <- I say this as somebody who rarely finds any writing time while on vacation, even if I'm just sludging around at home.
Don't feel bad about your working life.
Don't quit your day job.
A regular paycheck is good and experience and exposure to humanity is a bonus.
Remember, if you went totally hermit and actually spent all your time writing and zero time interacting with other human beings - there is still no guarantee that you would spin out a masterpiece.
Make do with the time you have - especially when you are away from the writing. Learn to look at life a little differently.
On that note, yesterday while stuck driving very slowly through a snowstorm in the early dark of morning, I entertained myself by playing what if games. My favorite of the morning was contemplating giant smokey black wraiths weaving through traffic in search of SOMEBODY. Other mornings, I imagine dinosaurs or even Big Foot running out into traffic. <- Yes, someday I will write a novel which has a Raptors running out from the nearby metropark and crossing the highway. Not now, but someday.