Quit your day job to become a writer?

This is an icon of Julian of Norwich. She was purported to be the first woman to write a book–back in the 1300s. It is a classic of mysticism. I don’t believe it ever earned her a penny, and even if it had, she wouldn’t have needed it since she became an anchoress (a hermit) who lived in a ten by ten cell attached to a little church.

Fortunately, we writers of today don’t need to live in such a small place, or do we!

Should you quit your day job? I did!

Over twenty years ago, I quit my job to become a writer. I wanted an authentic new way of life. People told me not to do it. My husband was angry that I gave up a $40,000/year job which back then was quite a lot of income. We later divorced–not entirely the outcome of my deciding to be a writer which was a symptom of wanting a more vital life.

Has becoming a writer been more meaningful than being a chemist, the job I chucked?

I have had a lot of freedom. I have never missed mixing chemicals. I got specialized training in ministry and spirituality which fascinate me, subjects I never would have had the energy or time to study before. I have never starved, but had I needed to provide for children, my choices would have been more difficult and different.

The plusses outweigh the negatives, but my income has been seriously low for a long time and I’ve had to live off the guy who is my second husband. I hate being dependent, but luckily my guy is also a writer, so he understands. He also worked as a professor, a job he enjoyed, which paid our bills.

I do not regret having left a job I never felt much passion for, and I have learned so much on this writer-journey. I have learned the first flow of writing is a wonderful high, but doesn’t last. Kindof like that guy or gal who is so perfect. You must have him or her. But then…

Creative moments need to be honed, shaped, and rewritten from an analytical rather than subjective point of view. That first flush of words seems marvelous, but upon a deeper look, those words are in need of serious revision. In relationships, you gotta hang out with the other, get to know him or her, give selflessly to him or her, forget about yourself, learn new things, be open to fresh possibilities. It’s the same with writing novels.  You make a commitment to do the work, try to forget your presuppositions and dig deeper for something worthwhile, something others might enjoy or find useful.

An editor/publisher suggested to me long ago I ought to take a class in how to write. I was not deeply offended, but I didn’t get it. I thought I could write. Sure, I had down grammar and sentence structure, which aspiring writers had better understand, but I hadn’t yet opened a creative artery. It took me years to develop the skills necessary to write creatively. It’s true of relationships and of writing–if it’s to be worthwhile, don’t give up, work on it…

Hopefully, in the twenty years or so I’ve been struggling to write meaningful prose, I have become a fairly decent writer.

You decide.

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