This past week, I received the same email from three prospective clients. "I have to quit my day job so that I can write my novel. Can you help me?"
Yes, I can! (But don't quit your day job...not yet.)
When I left TV to pursue a lucrative career writing poetry (insert laughter here), I was young and filled with pie-in-the-sky visions of literary grandeur. People told me that I could write in my dressing room. That I could take a night class. They told me not to quit my day job. I was incensed. They had so little belief in me.
Youth is the time to take risks, I said. Be bold, daring and fearless!! I quit!
I moved to a mountain top and spent the next year staring at the page, turning my computer on and off, in utter turmoil.
Here's what I'm saying: maybe it isn't your day job?
I know, it's a bitter pill to swallow. With time on my hands and money in the bank, I hardly wrote at all. I felt like such a failure.
Bank account empty, I had to take a full-time office gig. And that's when I started writing. I wrote a little at my desk when my boss was out of town. I wrote some paragraphs at night. I wrote a chapter over a weekend. I read books on writing. I took a wonderful writing class. And one word at a time, I finished my first novel.
And then a second novel. And then a third.
In a decade, I completed three novels with a full-time job, a part-time job as a masseuse and an auto-immune condition. Not my initial vision of the writer's life, but a writer's life.
Often, we think our lives have to look a certain way to be a writer (or be happy, but that's another post). Instead of making writing time a priority now, we cling to the delusion that we will do it when the conditions are "right". This is a way to avoid the work.
This is a way to make certain we never have to be uncomfortable, unsure, unsteady or write stuff we realize is really dreadful. We never have to fail because we never start.
Write now. And one day, writing may become your day job.
I think this must have been what everyone was trying to tell me. They weren't telling me I couldn't make it...they were saying just not yet.