Recently, I did the thing I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. I took a job in the publishing industry, ghostwriting for a small publisher. I’d love to tell you all about it, the whos, the hows, and the whys, but I can’t. Ghostwriting sometimes comes with things called Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Hand in hand with that came giving my current employer, what I laughingly refer to as my “day job,” my formal notice. As delighted as I am to be writing full time, to say that what I view as my talent is what’s making my living, it’s utterly terrifying. I was nervous going into that meeting, although it went well with my very supportive, gracious employers. I was nervous coming out of it, too. It’s final. I’m on my own.
The thing about writing (or any kind of artistic career) is that once you leap into doing it without something else, something stable, backing you up there are no guarantees. The money I make is totally dependent on my output. I’ve got to get up and try every day to put 100% into my work while I’m writing. If I don’t I simply don’t get paid. Yikes.
How often do I really put 100% of me into something? That’s a pretty scary thing to think about. I work out, but 100%? Probably not. I sit down and do school lessons with my little girl, but do I devote 100% of my focus into it? How could I? I’m also monitoring my baby, who after having a birthday really isn’t a baby at all anymore. Pouring yourself into something totally is hard and rare. There are moments with my girls, usually while I’m spinning them around or lugging them onto my shoulders while they erupt in contagious giggles, that it’ll suddenly hit me mid-laugh. This is what immersing yourself in something feels like. This is giving all you have into a moment. So far, I hadn’t been able to give that to my writing.
I’ve given myself a 10,000 word minimum each week. Can I do it? So far I have. I have, and I really enjoyed it. I’m growing from it, learning more about scene setting and character development every day. That paycheck, when it came in, somehow seemed more sacred than money has ever seemed before. I’ve certainly made more money at once than the sum written on it, but it represented something. It was a mark of giving this career, this dream, 100% of me while I’m doing it. It was a symbol of my aspirations no longer being on the back burner, no longer being a thing I think about at night but have neither the energy or time to pursue.
I’m doing it. On my own. It feels good. It’s also frightening.
It feels a lot like living, and I’m grateful for that.