Hello Tuesday. Time to be held accountable!
Last week and the week before I lamented my lack of progress. This week I’ve figured out what the problem was, and I think I’m kind-of recovering.
It took agent Rachelle Gardner’s post on money and writing to talk me down from the thought process that was freezing me. That process? Namely: worrying about money and pinning too much hope for the future on publishing the writing.
Since Gardner posted about this, I’m assuming it’s a subject that’s come up more than once. Meaning I’m not alone in the dreaming department.
Like so many others right now, my family is not rich – in fact, we’re that bit of the middle class that is just barely scraping by. Both my husband and I have college degrees (he has two). My husband worked in real estate and loans right as that whole mess exploded. We lost our house and had to move back in with parents. Now we rent from those same parents, but at least we have a place that’s pretty stable.
I worked (sometimes two jobs) while my husband got his Masters and his teaching certificate – because a career change seemed in order after all that other stuff. Now he’s teaching at one of the best schools in the state and we’re more secure. Secure enough that I stay home with the kids, partly to not pay for the ungodly costs of daycare, partly because I really want to be there for my kids, and partly because I want to focus on my writing. But there are student loans coming due and we’re already in a place where we can afford the monthly cost of living – but heaven help us if anyone gets sick, or a car breaks down.
Our situation isn’t unique. As a matter of fact, I believe our situation pretty typical – and certainly better than a ton of other families.
And in this economic climate it’s hard not to put more on the writing dream than the dream is capable of sustaining.
Writers have heard the stories: Stephen King typing away in a corner, J.K. Rowling walking her sleeping baby to the corner coffee house while she was on assistance. Stephenie Meyer’s endless home runs on the way to publication: a dream, writing the book, landing the perfect agent for her project, and the rest is history. So is it such a leap that, when we’re debating whether we pay for food or utilities this week, we dream about hitting that payday for something we love doing?
It’s difficult to remember that these writers are exceptions to the rule. Sure, they controlled the things they could control: the writing. But that doesn’t make their fantastic real-life stories any less fantastic.
Generally, I manage to keep that kind of money-worry stuff on the backburner, but somehow it took over this month.
My thought process was “Just finish this book. Send it out. Sooner you send it out, the sooner you’ll get paid.” And I thought I was being modest: “Just enough to get a good savings account going” or “Just enough to pay off one or two of the student loans” or “Just enough to cover the kids’ extracurriculars/preschool.”
Finish it, finish it, finish it. Send it, send it, send it.
Of course, what I did was put too much pressure on the piece of life that’s supposed to be special. And I stopped writing entirely by the time I hit this week.
Then there was a vicious cycle: With no outlet (writing) to deal with the stressors that I was trying to eliminate/reduce via writing, I panicked about writing and put even more pressure on it. Which meant I couldn’t write anything. Which made me panic even more: “I’ve got to! I’ve got to!” Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Normally, I manage to hold it pretty together. Not so this past week. By the time Mother’s Day rolled around I was a wreck.
Sometimes the world hands us what we need, and Rachelle Gardner’s post was a call back to reality. It talked me down. Gotta be talked down sometimes. And, judging from the amount of comments, I’m not alone. That kinda helps. I’m working on pulling it back together.
I just really needed to hear that what I was doing was okay. And if you need to hear that too:
What you’re doing is okay. No, what you’re doing is great – keep doing it.
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.