I read a quote once that was something along the lines of, “writers have several careers because they can’t admit to themselves that they are, in fact, writers.” I can’t for the life of me find it now (so if you do, please pipe in down in the comments), but man, is it true.
In my employment history, I’ve done everything short of joining the CIA…and I’m pretty sure that’s for everyone’s benefit because you don’t want me to have a gun. I’ve been a software tester, barista, jewelry sales associate, bartender, marketing intern, wedding planner, BeautiControl saleswoman, assistant to a nosy stained glass artist, manager, waitress, Yankee Candle sales associate (those candles smell like heaven)…I’m probably missing about seventeen jobs, but you get the idea.
The weird thing? I wasn’t fired from any of them. Not one. I moved on because it just wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore, and I’m not a fickle person or anything. I worked hard, even if I hated the job, because my parents taught me to always do my best, no matter what. No, I quit because the jobs just didn’t make me happy. I wasn’t passionate about any of them. The only problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Who does, right?
Throughout it all, I scribbled plot outlines and character sketches in the corners of napkins. I escaped from the stresses of life by creating my own worlds, with complex people that had problems of their own but always found some crazy way to overcome their obstacles. It made me jealous, I tell you. Yes, jealous of fictional characters. I know. Hush.
Publishing a book had always been a dream. I loved to write and tell stories, but it didn’t seem like a feasible way to make a living. For starters, didn’t authors eat paper and warm themselves by burning their returned books? That’s what it seemed like, at least. Plus, I’d always thought that it would be too stressful to turn my passion into my primary means of making money. Wouldn’t deadlines and expectations take all of the fun out of it? I’d heard so many freelancers tell me so that I was hesitant to make the leap.
I’m not sure what snapped. Not sure what changed my mind, but I eventually told myself that enough was enough. I’d been developing and planning a rather intricate book series since 2005, and I was going to write the damn thing. I sat down, and in six months, I’d written my first rough draft of my first book. I did Nanowrimo one year, but I don’t count that. My Nanowrimo book was only 50,000 words of impromptu plot. But this…this was 130,000 words of oh-my-god-I-did-it.
Of course, editing was a beast. I cut the word count down to what was appropriate for young adult fantasy. I changed names. I rewrote the ending three times. I erased two characters completely because they just didn’t need to exist. I cut, cut, cut. I polished. I slaved over it while my husband patted my back and let me do my thing. Goodness, is he a trooper.
My book was released in October of 2011, and I can now write full time. I’m a full time author. Haha! And I love it. I realized that all those hourly and salaried positions were just J-O-Bs: the means to an end. But now, I finally started my career. And I’ve never been happier working overtime.
I guess the snuggly-hug-fest moral of the story is to keep going. I wrote Lichgates at nights and on weekends, and largely sacrificed much of my personal life for it. But now that the book is out there—now that it’s real—it was worth every ounce of caffeine I consumed to keep me going.
Thanks for having me here today! And to everyone interested in a fun comments discussion: what was your craziest/oddest/most-fun job ever?
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