This past week, a few people were surprised to learn that I have a full-time job that has nothing to do with my writing career. Some days, I’m surprised I do, too, and it really starts to confuse me. What are my goals?
Let’s face it. If I sold a ton of books (or even a half-a-ton of books), I would write full time. It’s not just what I love to do, it’s what I have to do. My self-worth depends on my creativity. When I don’t write for a few days, I feel awful about myself. My mood is horrible, and it’s obvious to the outside world. Fortunately, some of my friends recognize the signs by now and respect my need for writing-time. I have to write. No matter what else is going on in my life, it’s a vital part of who I am.
Sadly, I don’t sell a ton of books, or even a handful of books. I don’t think this is a testament to the quality of my books. I’ve received plenty of awesome reviews that make me feel like I’m not the only one enjoying the worlds I invent. It’s a testament of my poor marketing skills. I don’t advertise. I don’t do blog tours. I barely manage to keep up my own blog. There just aren’t many opportunities to market like I should. And why aren’t there enough hours in the day?
There simply isn’t enough time because I have an 8-5 job that distracts me from my true love of writing and often zaps my energy. Even though I love to write and need to write, sometimes I have to fight through exhaustion or lingering work-stress to actually sit down and write. This week, I accepted a promotion that I really did want, but I’ve realized quickly that it’s taking up more of my time and energy. I literally work non-stop all day. There are no opportunities to daydream about characters or plot development. Most of the time, even my lunch breaks are stolen by pressing issues at work. This part of my job really sucks. And the job itself doesn’t provide any sort of creative outlet unless I force something into my typical job functions… and I have less and less time to do that nowadays.
The confusing thing is, when I’m at work, even though I’d leave the job in a heartbeat if I sold that half-ton of books, I really do want to do a good job and make a difference for my team. I wanted this promotion because I wanted to affect results and achieve some personal and team-related goals that I feel are within our reach. Even though the job is in a field that doesn’t particularly interest me, the challenge of the tasks I do keep me interested and immersed in my duties. My parents instilled in me the notion that a job worth doing is worth doing well. I have incredibly high expectations for myself (which probably doesn’t surprise people who follow my writing progress) and I don’t like to fail or let myself or others down.
There are times, though, that I just want to cry about the fact that I have to have this job. Many other authors I know and follow have the luxury of writing full time. And a lot of them don’t hit the word-count goals that I do. I keep thinking about how productive I could truly be if I had that luxury. I’m in the middle of four books, and I get ideas for each of them all the time… but with the limited amount of time I have, I choose to focus on one book at a time, and make notations in Evernote about the other books until I can give them the attention they deserve… but I’d love to be able to follow a story idea on a whim and write until the next character speaks to me. That would be heaven to me.
I just keep thinking that these books just have to get in the right hands, and then I can focus all of my efforts on what I love doing. One person could make all the difference in the world to me. I’ll continue to pray that I can get my books into that person’s hands very, very soon.