I recently read a blog post about a woman who finally “retired” from her Real Job and began working full time as a writer. After all, you can’t really say you’re a working writer until you start doing it full time.
While I instantly cheered her good fortune, a part of me ignited with jealousy. I would move mountains to quit my day job and write hours every day. I am heading in that direction, but it’s a slow slog. I happen to like a few things in my life, including food, a roof over my head, and basic needs like health insurance. I’ve never been very good at being a starving artist. I like food too much.
After my initial envy died down, other, more dangerous emotions flared up. Feelings of incompetence. (“So, why haven’t I made enough money by now so I could retire and do what I want to do, instead of what I have to do?”) I felt trapped by my situation, depressed that when I do sit down to write, those minutes are stolen. And yes, there was some anger, directed at myself for being such a boob as to let myself be dictated by such things as food and a roof over the heads of me and my children. Anger because I don’t have the luxury of time. And sadness, because I wonder about all the stories that have come to me and have gotten away, ever since I began writing stories. I felt sick to my stomach. I wondered if I would ever finish anything ever again.
Then after my anxiety attack (also brought on by some personal issues my family has been having), I decided there was only one thing I could do: Cut myself some slack.
Writers should never compare themselves to other writers. My reality is not the same as anyone else’s.
I can only do the best I can with the time that I have. Since my creative time is limited, I have to prioritize my to-do list. I have to pack as much as I can into the smallest bit of time.
Someday (like when I hit the Lotto or if a wealthy, non-existent uncle dies), I may have unlimited time to devote to writing. For now, I’ll plug along as best as I can and make my strides in baby steps, not lopes.
Am I a “real” writer? Even though I’m part-time?
I think so.