Before I climb on my soapbox, the next book club discussion is June 26th for THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. Hope you’ll read it (if you haven’t already!) and join us here on the 26th.
Now. The epiphany.
For those who don’t know, I’ve been working part-time for the Census Bureau since March. Full-time Mom + part-time CB employee = 0 writing time. My novel’s third draft is caught in limbo, and this website has suffered from neglect. An example of my typical day while working for the CB:
1. Take care of my son from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM (or whenever my husband got home).
2. Go interview people at their homes from 4:30 to 7:30 PM.
3. Eat a cold supper and do dishes.
4. Fill out CB paperwork for an hour or two.
5. Do any other household chores I need to do before going to bed.
Notice the abundance of free time and relaxation? Right. Every day I felt tired. As an introvert working the job of an extrovert, I was often stressed. I stretched myself so far, I ended up with the worst case of flu I’ve had in my life.
I know I shouldn’t complain. I know many people have it much worse than I do. I know I am lucky and blessed. I also know that if I continue on this path, I will drain every ounce of health and happiness out of my life.
You know what makes me happy and whole? Writing. The problem is . . . I’ve never truly believed I could make money from writing. Sure, I have dreams of finding an agent and selling my book to a traditional publisher and becoming a full-time writer. But those dreams did not carry over to reality. I always figured that once my son started kindergarten, I would have to get a “real” job and maybe write occasionally in the evenings. Writing would be like my eccentric hobby.
I hate doing things halfway. I want to live by the creed, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” I never have enough time to devote to writing and excel at it. I know many writers work a regular job in the day and write at night. I don’t think I could handle that. I would miss my family. Besides, whatever happened to just sitting down and breathing for awhile?? When do I get to sit on the deck and soak in a sunset??
I’ve already made sacrifices for writing. Now it’s time to make another sacrifice—money. I’d rather make no money writing than make lots of money working a job I don’t believe in (the Census is important, don’t get me wrong. But a decennial job isn’t what I call reliable hours).
At the same time, I want to help support my family. And that means I have to get serious about writing. I have to become good enough to make some money. I need the attitude of a professional writer if I want to succeed as a professional. I am so tired of selling myself short.
When I finish TRE, I will try my best to find a literary agent to represent. But if I can’t, it’s not the end of the dream. The publishing industry is changing everyday. Ebooks and iPads and podcasts, oh my! Another example: AmazonEncore is picking up self-published books and giving them that special Amazon touch (the minor perk of hoarding info for millions of people). Last week they made history by partnering with J.A. Konrath to provide inexpensive ebooks to readers.
I used to think I would never self-publish . . . now I’m not so sure. According to this article, 93% of published books sell less than 1000 copies each. Huh. I’ve been blessed with a huge network of extended family and friends, and they are all made of awesome. If I begged each one of them to buy a copy of my book, and if each managed to get two additional people to buy my book, I’d likely sell around 1000 copies. And I could manage all that on my own, without the help of a publishing house (sorry, I know that sounds cocky. But I’m boasting about my amazing loved ones, not about me!). Yet I still like that dream of seeing my paperback book in Borders. Maybe I’ll hold on to it a little bit longer, but the most important goal is to share my stories with others. Even if it’s just my family and friends who read them, that would be enough.
Read this post about how to know if you will be a successful writer. That is what I’m striving for. I will keep trying to carve out my writing niche—not for money or fame—but for happiness.
Go ahead, ask me what I do for a living. Go on. Challenge me.
I am no longer just a stay-at-home mom. I am also a writer.