My blogfriend Averil is having a bad time of it right now. I started to share a semi-similar experience at her place, but it became a little too long for a comment. So I upgraded it to a post and moved it here.
A year and a half ago, my husband was “let go” from his job as a bank manager and decided to take the opportunity to pursue his dream of becoming a yoga instructor. He’s truly happier now. And I’m happy for him.
But it took me a while.
Because his dream made me the main breadwinner and sole health insurance provider* of the household. I do love my job—I’m lucky to have found work that suits me and my principles and in which I can take pride—but now I’m trapped in it. I no longer have the option of leaving or even of going part time so the kids don’t have to spend all day in after care or so I can write more.
I didn’t know how much I’d depended on that “someday option” to keep me grounded until it was taken away. It took me a while to get over my anger and resentment and my guilt at being angry and resentful.
The painful truth is that, except for the articles I do for the library, writing—nonfiction or fiction—isn’t bringing in the necessary bucks right now. Paying for food, shelter, clothing, health, and education trump the luxury of indulging myself in what is still, essentially, a sideline. A hobby.
And I know full well that when I chose to have a family, I accepted responsibility and abdicated from everything being all about me. So, practically speaking, my dream of writing full-time is most likely on hold for the next twenty-five years. At least.
But. But . . . .
I continue to steal writing time—from my family, from friends, from sleeping hours —because writing is what I do. I can no more stop sticking words together and scribbling them down—on the backs of envelopes and receipts with tooth-sharpened pencils, if I must—-than I can stop loving my children, even when they break my heart.
I have to believe that my weird little thoughts have value and the act of writing them down is worthwhile. Even when I’m the only one who thinks so—even in those moments when I half-convince myself that it’s an obsessional waste of time.
Even if my scenes are never read by anyone but my betas, if my manuscripts are never published, never read by people who do not know and love me, even if I never earn so much as a single author’s copy of the local, free, alternative newspaper . . . I have to believe that I will not have failed.
I have to believe that the only failure is in not continuing to do what I love to do, whenever I can, however I can, despite frustrations, obstacles, and setbacks.
Otherwise . . . what’s the point?
Anyone else want to chime in? Because the value that we put on what we do—whatever it is that we do—is, I think, pretty important stuff.
*Not including my MIL, but I’m on a dramatic roll here.