Thursday, January 18, 2018

Money is Time

If you’re like me, like most midlist writers, you have weeks like this one –– weeks when you simply need more hours in each day to get everything done. This week, for instance, five workdays ran until 10 p.m. or later; I had seven meetings on Monday and Tuesday alone.

These are the weeks when the writer in me longs for nothing more than a cluster of uninterrupted hours when the cell phone doesn’t chime a calendar reminder, when no papers roll in needing a coffee-addicted sucker to grade them, when my mind is clear of everything but problems concerning my manuscript.

I’m working on the second draft of a novel, revising and rewriting, chipping away for roughly two hours a day. I have friends who write full time. We talk about the pros and cons of having a “day job.” Working at a boarding school provides housing, a paycheck, meals, and the chance to discuss great books with great kids (and tuition remission for my three daughters). I feel very blessed to have this gig. But there are times when shutting the computer down at 6 a.m. after writing for two hours to walk away from the book until the next morning feels like leaving the characters for a month-long joyage. And switching gears so drastically can it make it feel like it’s been a month since you worked on the book last when you finally do return the next morning.

But there are pros to having a day job. Writing is never work. It’s hard. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s not pressure. Golfer Lee Trevino once said, “Pressure is when you play for $5 a hole when you only have $2 in your pocket.” Writing isn’t like that for me. A friend who had a breakout book in his twenties and has always wrote full time once told me about having the $1,100-a-month health insurance payment hanging over him as he wrote. “It keeps me on my toes,” he said. I bet it sure as hell does. I don’t need to make enough each month writing to cover bills, and maybe there’s a creative freedom in that.

What it comes down to is that for writers money is time. I don’t know many writers who talk about buying new cars or making extravagant purchases (the new Kindle is $180, after all). I do know writers who talk about making enough money to “be able to just write.” Generally speaking, writers don’t spend a lot. They can’t. They’re home writing. It’s a solitary profession, one that requires you to be planted in front of the computer for many hours, alone with your thoughts.

And some weeks that sounds pretty good.

1 comment:

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Hope you find a cluster of uninterrupted hours so you can plant yourself in front of your computer and enjoy :)