This Writer got a Day Job.

The voices of John Scalzi and Chuck Windig ring in my ears as I write this post. Sorry guys. You’re still two of my heroes.

Last year, I was given an inheritance from my Nana, which was a tidy sum of money. It was more money than I had ever made in a year (not that that says much, as I live in Indiana and have only worked corporate, entry level jobs.) And then the inevitable happened. My dissatisfaction with working for Wal-Mart finally reached it’s head, and I was let go. I was now one of the unemployed masses. While we had hoped that the money would go toward buying a house, it ended up getting us through the last year. I was able to finish college finally. I got to visit a good friend in DC for a week and see so much of that great city. I watched my son go through his first year of school. I was luckily able to score a part time job at Autozone, through a friend who was a manager there. But I wasn’t able to turn that into a full time job. Mostly because there was no way I wanted to do that.

But then I got a phone call from Choretime in Milford, Indiana, offering me a job. A good job. Temporary, but with the potential to become full time, but 40+ hours a week no matter what happens. I’m a hard worker when I’m rewarded for it. I’ll get on full time.

Wanna know what didn’t happen in the last year? I didn’t write a novel. I did write a chapbook’s worth of poetry, but only because it was required for my last class at IPFW. I didn’t start this blog. I didn’t send query letters out to places looking for freelance writers. I barely read novels.

I’ve always been afraid of getting a full-time, real job. Of working in a factory. Of taking work seriously.

So many writers dream of being able to quit their jobs and start their novel, or just write poetry all day. I know I did. Being un/underemployed teaches you a lot about yourself. Ssomething that I have learned this year is that it is incredibly hard for me to concentrate on the beauty of words when the word “eviction” is always floating outside my head. I can’t play with imaginary friends when I’m distracted by my real sons wanting to play with me. I can’t build a web presence when I can’t afford internet access.

Are these excuses, and are excuses as worthless as Canadian money left in a warm car? Yes, absolutely they are. But sometimes we need to get what we dream of to learn something about ourselves. I learned that I’m not someone who can starve for my art. And even if I were, is it fair for my wife and kids to suffer as well? No insurance, no guaranteed money to pay the bills? I can’t consciously inflict poverty on my family when I am capable of overcoming it.

I know that it’s possible to live successfully as a full time writer, but the money (on average) is the same as working at McDonald’s, and you still have the boring slog as you work on things you aren’t passionate about. And this is all without that great old man who comes in every morning for a cup of coffee and tells you stories about fucking French whores after WWII.

If I’m not passionate about something, I won’t put work into it. (My time at Autozone taught me that. If you don’t love cars, selling auto parts and chatting with mechanics isn’t a great job.) Does my unwillingness to write boring ad copy make me less of a writer? No, I don’t think it does. I can write the stuff I want to write, and I’ll know that the bills are being paid. Working a factory job guarantees me a steady schedule, and enough money, if we are smart, to live. If it’s dull, it’s not the end of the world. I can memorize poetry.

What made me not a writer was the wishing and hoping that someday I’d get published, knowing that there wouldn’t be an acceptance letter in the mail because nothing had been sent out. I want to write poetry and fiction. And now I have a job that will allow me to concentrate on that dream. And no one has to suffer for it, except me. Now the goal is to get off my ass and treat my writing like a second job, which I know I am capable of. At this point in my life, writing cannot be my first job. But it can be my second. And I graduated from college with it being a very time intensive part-time job. Working for Chore Time isn’t an end to my dreams, I see that now. It’s the start of them.


About wombatdeamor
I am a writer who has yet to be published. I am using this blog to shame myself into writing more regularly, in the hopes that I will be able to improve the "About Yourself" box to something less awkward. I also like to cook and use profanity.

One Response to This Writer got a Day Job.

  1. Oh, all the interesting characters you’ll meet on a factory floor. This job holds the potential to fuel your writing for a long time. Best of all, you won’t have to dream up characters; you’ll just have to cull the most interesting ones.

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