I have a job that pays me a salary, affords me some health insurance, and gets me out of the house three days a week. This is the job the people in my social realm call “Peggy’s real job.”
I don’t refer to it that way. I call it “The place Peggy goes when she’s not writing.” My real job is the one that affords me the most enjoyment, the one I eagerly look forward to each day, and the one that occupies my mind during rest, sleep and all other periods in my day.
My real job is not a job at all, but a love; an avocation; a calling. For my real job I, simply, write.
I’ve loved turning words into sentences and then into stories on the page since I first knew how to spell. I was that kid everyone hated in school who actually liked writing THEME ESSAYS in class and usually broke the grading curve with my scores. All during my school career I dreamed of graduation and then being able to write all the time, every day,whenever and wherever I wanted.
Reality washed over me like an ice cold shower when I did graduate and was told to pursue a real career which would pay my way into the world, because no one was going to do it for me. Unfortunately, sitting in a garret, writing mystery novels was not to be that career.
At that time, anyway.
Being able to write fiction on a full time basis is a luxury when you are first starting out in a writing career. I didn’t know that when I was younger. If I had, I might have steered towards a more literary career pursuit, in publishing, agenting, or even editing, instead of nursing. If I had known that my desire to write would be interrupted numerous times during my adult years with marriage, motherhood, and the need for a consistant, dependable salary, I would definitely have made different career choices when I was younger and more flexible. Let’s face it: when you’ve got a husband, a child, and a mortgage, not to mention a car, the need for groceries, and an occasional night out, starving in a garret penning the great american novel doesn’t look so easy to do. Writers need to live. They need to pay bills, put food on the table and provide for themselves and their families. I wish I could give every writer I know who is trying to make a name for themselves with their craft a fairy godmother who could provide for them. Centuries ago, writers, artists and musicians had Patrons, wealthy people who would pay the artists’s expenses so they could devote their time to their writing, art or music. This allowed the creative person ample time to simply create and not have to worry about mundane everyday living needs. Patrons of the Arts were usually nobleman or women who had a staked interest in the person using their creativity. I would have done very well during those times as a writer because I would have had no qualms about accepting help ( in the form of money) in order to afford me time to write.
Most of the people I know personally who are writers, have another job – a paying job – as I do. One that takes care of the mortgage, the kid’s college tuition, groceries, health insurance and car payments. This is just a fact of their life as it is mine. Some day, hopefully BEFORE offical retirement age, I will be able to forgo this necessary salary and be able to support myself and my family with the fruits ( read: money) of my writing endeavors.Until then I steal whatever time I can from things I should be doing – like laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping and sometimes even cooking. I haven’t been to a mall in almost a year and my wardrobe is several seasons out of date.
I don’t care, though, because I’m writing.