Changes

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time. ~~Leonard Bernstein

jobs

A few weeks ago, at the DFW Writers Conference, as I listened to Kevin J. Anderson speak, I was particularly struck by one story he told, probably because I could relate to it.

He preceded the story with a question:

“I have a question,” he said. “But before I ask, let me say there’s always a wise cracker in the crowd who raises his hand.” The audience hummed with laughter. “Okay. Here’s the question. Is there anyone out there who feels he has all the time he needs to write?”

Though I didn’t want to be a wise cracker, I raised my hand. Because I’m one of the fortunate few who, for the last two years, has truly had every bit of time I’ve needed to write. In fact, I probably should have finished several books by now.

So now for the story. Mr. Anderson began to tell us about a friend who became a bestselling author while working full time for Hewlett Packard. He went on to tell us the friend’s wife also worked for HP.

Then, the cliffhanger:

“And then, the most awful thing happened,” he said.

The audience hushed, waiting.

“His wife got a big promotion,” he continued. “And she came home one day and said, ‘Honey, now that I make more money, I think I can support us both. Why don’t you quit your job so you can write full time?'”

Why was that the “most awful thing?” Because this friend never finished another book. Instead, he took up painting, bonsai tree trimming, etc., etc. With so much time on his hands, he found too many things to distract him from his writing.

That’s what’s happened to me. My first thought is to say I’m burned out on writing. But that’s not exactly true. I still love to write. What I’m burned out on is trying to make a living from my writing.

Social media and marketing. Those two things on their own have distracted me from my writing, not to mention painting, bonsai tree trimming, etc.

Too much time. Too many distractions.

So, for the first time in twelve years, I’m going back to an 8:00-5:00 job with a regular paycheck. Sure I’m a little nervous about this very major change in my life:

  • A loss of so much free time
  • Not being able to watch Tommy during the week
  • Putting off the dream of generating enough income through writing or painting to support myself. (Note, I say “putting off,” not forgetting.)

But I’m looking forward to a lot, too:

  • A regular paycheck
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Making new friends
  • Better familiarizing myself with Dallas

Maybe my writing will be significantly impacted, maybe not. But I have always worked better with too little time, as opposed to too much time. So who knows?

Perhaps my story will have a different twist to the one Mr. Anderson told, and I’ll go back to work full time and come away with a bestseller.

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10 Responses to Changes

  1. Best wishes with this new chapter! I’m ever fascinated by writers’ paths. We really have to find what works best for us as individuals – which can be tough to sort out. Sounds to me like you’re going with your instincts and logic, which is a golden combo. 🙂

  2. Beth Carter says:

    Best of luck, Jan. I know you’ll find the perfect balance and enjoy this new chapter in your life. Like you, I’m better with deadlines and not as much time on my hands. Maybe I should go back to the 8-5 job myself! You’ll also get great story fodder, character descriptions, and amazing dialog, I bet! I can’t wait to hear what job you land.

  3. All the best with your new direction, Jan. I think you’ll do a great job at both jobs.

    janet

  4. kathleenmrodgers says:

    Jan,

    I can relate to everything you said. Here’s to your new day job and to your writing. Wishing you much success in both.

  5. Hi Jan,

    I thought once summer vacation came I would write on my blog (my sketchbook), but I didn’t, and next week another school year begins. I’ve kept my stories to myself, which has been the safe option given what I do professionally.

    Hopefully, you continue to maintain your writer’s notebook religiously even after you get back into the so-called traditional workforce, because writers don’t write for money, but rather because they have something to say that needs to be said. There is no shame in earning a paycheck, but never let your dreams die! Congratulations on landing a job!

    On a side note, a university researcher in San Francisco is in the process of interviewing Masako, my 101 year old grandma, as part of an oral history project — very similar in attitudes to the mom in Red Kimono, according to my mom. I will post the links once the interviews are up.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Daniel, so often we let our “outward” or professional selves determine what we’re willing or unwilling to write. It’s probably the biggest cause of writer’s block for me. I hope one day we can both free ourselves completely. Maybe, when we’re 101 years old like your grandma, we won’t care anymore if our innermost selves don’t quite match the outward self that others see. I can’t wait to see the links you share, so please do!

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