I was visiting with a friend last week who, like me, and many of you, is a writer with a day job. The topic of wishing we could write fulltime is one that has come up before, and it came up again. We both bemoan our need to earn money, and joke about wishing we could retire or win the lottery, or some such, which would enable us to write—unencumbered by odious day jobs that have nothing to do with our Real Work. She and I have a writer friend who has that leisure. And we both envy him those long days of uninterrupted writing. He is cranking out some wonderful stuff.
I grouse about this issue to someone at least once a week, especially if it’s a bad week for the day job. Or a really good week for the writing—in which case, anything that takes me away from what I really should be doing is viewed as evil. There are days when I am sure my day job has robbed the world of the enjoyment of my genius. When I am certain that, had I been left alone to write, I would have created something remarkable. I write this in jest, but even as I write it, a small part of me thinks it might not be B.S. Such is the hopeful ego of a writer.
But here’s the thing. Another part of me secretly suspects that if I didn’t have this pressure to make the most of my writing time—I wouldn’t write nearly as much, or nearly so well.
I have a sneaking suspicion that my craving for writing time makes me hot to sit down and write. It’s the impetus that springs me out of bed at 5 am, to stumble downstairs, grab a cup of tea, and eagerly crouch over my computer keyboard for the next three hours—sometimes with my heart racing. I don’t know if I would feel the same ardor for it, if I had all the hours in the day. Maybe I would, but I’m not sure.
And here’s another thing. I meet all kinds of characters, overhear every kind of crazy, sad, poignant, weird, greedy, profane, sublime conversation in the course of my work day. The folks I meet come from all walks of life: clean-cut villains and tattooed angels; type-A workaholics and winsome widows; lonely, paint-splattered men who try to tell me dirty jokes, and funny, chain-smoking gurus. My workday is a cornucopia of characters. And they fill me up with stories!
Would I meet so many vivid characters if I didn’t have to venture forth and slay the green-backed dragon? I think not.
Still…I would be willing to try it.
I could always get another day job if things weren’t working out.
Writers: Do you have a day job? How does it affect your writing time? If you don’t have a day job, do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Oh and, FYI, caring for young children is having a day job. So don’t feel left out of the conversation, if parenting is what you do!