News, Publishing, Shifting Isles

When the Grass Isn’t As Green As You Imagined

It’s strange to look back at this post from eight months ago and recall how starry-eyed I was at the time. Back then, just two months into my experiment at being a full-time writer, I thought I was truly living the dream: no alarm clocks, no bosses, no desk to be chained to and customers to satisfy for ten hours a day, six days a week. I was free to write and do whatever else I wanted, all on my own schedule. I relaxed. I read a lot. My chiropractor marveled at the improvement in my back now that my shoulders weren’t constantly up in my ears from the stress of the day job. And, of course, I got a lot of writing done. It was the kind of life that every writer talks about wanting if they haven’t achieved already. And I wanted it. I wanted it for years, but never took the leap until I managed to find a way to make it a financially-viable lifestyle, even if only temporarily. I took the leap, and for a while, I couldn’t be happier.

Now? Heh. Different story.

I’m not saying I regret taking the opportunity. Not by a longshot! It was the best decision I ever made. It gave me the final push to leave the day job where I’d worked for 17 years, something I’d been chickening out of for way too long. It gave me the chance to start transitioning with hormone therapy away from the prying eyes of customers, coworkers, and vendors who had known me for nearly two decades (which, as it turns out, was not nearly as big a concern as I imagined, but, you know, hindsight and all that). Overall, it forced me to take the biggest, scariest risk of my life. Not have a job? Was I mad?!?! Sure, selling my house gave me plenty of savings to live off of, but there’s just something comforting about having a regular paycheck coming in, no matter how much of a cushion you have.

Mostly, it gave me the opportunity to write without having to steal moments in and around the day job. Granted, the whole point of leaving the day job was so I’d actually have time to market my books in addition to writing them, and I wound up doing very little marketing. Still, I got a lot more writing done than ever before. I thought I’d finally get my series release dates back on schedule.

So what’s the problem? I am SO FUCKING BORED.

I never get bored. Never. I’ve always wondered at people who complain they’re bored, because that has never been a problem for me. Until now. Even writing has become boring, which is the last thing I want. Writing was my passion. It was the thing I stumbled upon in my darkest moments, and out of trauma came this beautiful, perfect thing, this sense of purpose, this meaning for living. I’d envied people who knew what they wanted to do with their lives. I never had that until I fell into writing.

So the last thing I wanted was for my passion to start feeling like a job.

Now, you’d think that would have been a given. Writing full-time? That makes it a job. But it didn’t feel like that. It felt like an adventure, an escape from the trap of a 9-5 (rather, a 7:30 to 5:30), a chance to play at being retired, in a way, while also pursuing the thing I loved. Except…writing was my passion because it was also my escape from reality. It gave me an outlet to deal with my trauma, but it also gave me a place to disappear to at the end of the day. My little fantasy world was my safe, happy place where I could go on adventures and meet new people and experience new and exciting things, all without having to leave the house. After dealing with the harsh realities of providing customer service to the general public (ugh) all day, my writing was a necessary relief.

And now it’s lost that element. It’s no longer an escape since it’s now my entire life. My whole day revolves around writing, so it’s turning my passion into work, my escape into a job. It’s no longer magical and exciting. I find myself desperately grasping for new project ideas just for the sake of keeping the passion alive when I’ve already got fifteen other projects stacked up behind me, needing to get done but going ignored because they now feel like work rather than a mystery to uncover.

Now I find myself facing the prospect of having to go out and get a part-time job, just for the sake of having something else to do, some reason to leave the house, some grounding sense of reality in hopes that writing can become a beloved escape again.

I honestly don’t know how some people do it. While still working full-time, I thought there was nothing that could beat this kind of lifestyle. No alarm clocks? No bosses or customers to please? Sounds like a deal! But now that I’ve gotten to experience it, going fully unemployed to pursue a dream leaves some things to be desired. To the writers who can do this full-time for years on end without losing their spark, I salute you. I don’t know how you do it, and though I thought this would be the perfect lifestyle for an introvert such as myself, I’m not sure I envy you any longer. Guess I’m just not cut out for being unemployed. I need to be active. I need to be useful.

But not back to my old day job. If I ever have to sit at a desk and answer phones all day again, I’m going to go insane.

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