The Day Job and the Writer

November 20, 2013

My favorite part about being a writer is when I talk to someone from my past and that person asks me if I ever published my stories.  I say yes!  And I end the conversation there.  I don’t need to tell them that I work the same unglamorous day job Monday through Friday from 9-5 just like them.  I can stop the conversation and let them think I’m some shimmery, glittery version of writer that they have in their head.  And only I will know about the too close walls of depressingly drab day job office that seem to press in on me the closer the clock moves toward 5 o’clock.

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But the very existence of the day job raises a startling question that strikes fear into most writers.

When is it time to quit the day job?

I like to fantasize that I’m at this place in my writing career, that I should realistically think about it, but deep down, I know it’s still a little ways off.  But for the first time in my life, it is a real possibility, and something I must actually form a plan around.  Thanks to the self-publishing revolution, quitting my day job can happen.  The internet took down the gatekeepers that separated my stories from the wonderful readers that have found them.

But having found them, I now face the reality of making that feared jump from writing as my hobby to writing is my day job.  In an interview by Sharlay of bestselling author Hugh Howey on Wattpad, Sharlay asks Howey the dreaded question: when did he quit his day job.  His answer: when he was making in one day what he made in a week at his day job.

And with this answer, I found math.  I found math in the emotional question of when to jump from the safety of the day job into the visceral arms of my writing, hoping it would catch me and keep me safe for at least a little while.  Howey took an abstract thought and made it seem logical.  Make in one day what you make in a week at your day job.

And what did I think of that?

I had better get writing.

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