I’m currently working a day job to fund my dream of being a writer. I’m juggling a 9-5 communications/marketing job in the financial sector that is filled with stresses and competition, with my book promotions for Unsealed and new writing projects, as well as a screenwriting course I’m taking to help me write the first draft of a film script for Unsealed. My dream may be to be a writer, and all my spare time might go towards doing exactly that, but my rent and grocery bills are paid by my 9-5 job. What does that make me? Am I a writer? Or am I a corporate communications professional with a hobby?
Theoretically, I am both things. But, when someone asks you what you do for a living, you only have a few seconds to respond. To explain that my living might come from one place but my real job is something else takes at least a minute – a minute that strangers often don’t give you. But, the problem is, I don’t like identifying myself by my day job. It makes me feel like a fraud, like I’m hiding myself. I’m more than that. But, I feel uncomfortable stating that I’m purely a writer because, to be honest, I’m not earning my living that way and I spend a lot of time doing something else too. So – what do I call myself?
Someone once told me, “If you want to be a writer, stay in school.” I get it now. The stresses of real life, grown-up jobs take a lot of time, and success takes a lot of effort. By the end of the day, I’m drained. I rarely have creativity left in me, nor do I have energy to embark on a totally different career competition. But here’s the thing…. If writing doesn’t work out, what will I do? I need a back-up plan. And that back up plan is my day job – or at least in part. But now I spend my weekends stressing, my nights not sleeping, and essentially every morning crying out of dread going to my day job. I am always swimming, in each job, because I just don’t have time to catch up on work for either. I’m always racing from one thing to the next. Proactivity is just not in the cards for me right now, but I really think it has to be – particularly for success in writing. I need to be proactive in getting out there. Isn’t that how you make it? Which leads me to my next question, the one that’s been keeping me up…. Is it possible to “make it” when you’re stretched so thin trying to make it in so many different ways? These are #firstworldproblems, I know, but I appreciate you hearing me out.
I can’t say that I regret the decision to go for a career-type job, instead of the kind that other artists and writers I know tend to gravitate towards – one that’s at least in the industry or one that doesn’t have any stress or overtime. If I were to do it over again, I would do it again the exact same way. But, I’d end up being the same stressed out, pulled-too-thin type of girl. Where am I going wrong?
I have read the books and heard the stories about the Richard Bransons and the Jimmy Carters of the world and I think, Well, of course I can do it all. Look at everything they were able to accomplish, and we have the same number of hours in a day. I read the motivational quotes and I watch the motivational YouTube videos where people say different variations of “Give it your all and success will come.” But what exactly do they mean? How much do I give to the dream and how much do I give to the rest of my life? It’s all great to give your dream absolutely everything, but what about failure? I know you’re not supposed to think about it, but it’s a real thing. Writing, as with other artistic fields, is saturated with talent and people wanting to make it. I might be able to distinguish myself by my work ethic, I might be able to say I want this more than anyone, but will that really get me to where I need to be to make a good living as a writer? If I don’t, and I spend my formative career years striving for recognition and success I never find, will I live to regret not building a career in something else that could at least give me a lifestyle I enjoy?
A part of me thinks it's as simple as self-belief. Maybe my confusion and struggle is coming from my own issues. Maybe, somewhere inside, I'm scared to actually achieve everything I want because I might realize that I'm not up to the job. Maybe, deep down, I am scared I'm not cut out for it. Or, maybe, I'm just being practical. Or... maybe there's a way to have it all.
I have no answers to these questions. These are just the musings of a secret perfectionist who is terrified of making the “wrong” choice but has been clearly ordered to simplify her life. “Simple” has always been a touch elusive for me…. And it seems to just get further and further away the older I get. If you have any tips or answers for me, I am eager to hear them!