Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Welcome guest blogger... Deanna Lang!

Hello! Hello! First off, I want to thank the Deadly Vixens for the invite to guest blog. I’m delighted to be here.

After I accepted the invite to blog, my mind immediately turned so the topic of “what the heck do I say that would be interesting?” I’m sure similar thoughts go through the heads of other bloggers, or it might just be me. I confess that this is my first time guest blogging, so you might call me a “guest blogging virgin”. Hmm … that doesn’t sound all that palatable does it? Scrap that thought.

Well, as I contemplated about what to blog on, I am also in the middle of thinking about what to do about a day job. I suppose I should put this into some context for you.

I’m an organisation restructure project manager by profession. In simple terms, I manage projects for companies that are undergoing large scale change – be it a restructure, outsourcing or putting in a new computer system. All these things will change the face of the workplace for the people impacted. My job is to make sure that that the changes take place on time, on budget and with minimal disruption to the people. I also make sure that the people affected are well taken care of, that they are communicated to, their fears and issues addressed and they are satisfied with management’s approach to the changes at hand. It’s a full on job. Sometimes I can be managing as many as 20 projects at the same time.

On top of that, I’m also writing a book – or at least attempting to write a book. I think for me, I don’t know about other writers, it is always the attempt to write a book, even when I’m writing a book. I’m the midst of pulling thoughts together and doing research. Each day consists of an hour or two of writing and several hours of reading and research.

It all takes time.

So here I am, torn between the dreaded day job and my desire to produce a well written book and that’s the topic of my blog.

The day job!

How many of us writers also have day jobs?

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my day job. I love the challenge, dealing with people, the exhilaration of knowing when a plan comes together (which often isn’t the case) and just getting things done.

There’s the rub then. I LOVE my day job but it takes up 12 to 14 hours each day, sometimes more. At my last job, before we moved to Qatar, I was up at 5:30am, left for work at 6:30am and in at work shortly after 7am. I’d work till 6pm, sometimes later … well, actually, a lot of times later, and I’d get home by about 9pm. Then its dinner, some computer work and bed. There’s little time left for anything else and I’m exhausted.

Right now, I’m between jobs. I always have between jobs because I work on a contract basis. My contracts last as long as the project(s) last. Anywhere between 6 to 18 months. Sometimes as long as 24 months. After that, I have a few months off and then I’m back in the saddle of the day job again.

The reason I’m between jobs right now is that I’ve just relocated to a new country and as I write this, I’m still looking for work. Today I was presented with a potential job opportunity. The word “potential” in capital letters. It’s a POTENTIAL job opportunity because my CV has been forwarded to a company by a friend and I may receive a call from the HR department of the company which may or may not result in a job interview.

Here’s the thing – already with the potential, I’m worrying about how this will cut into my writing because right now, I HAVE TIME TO WRITE. In the midst of living life, I have time to write a few hours each day, read and research a few hours each day and I don’t get bored. I have plenty to occupy my mind and fill my time. I’m not working and that’s okay, I’m writing.

I’m worrying about not having time to write and worse than that, I’m worried about not having the emotional energy to write. And while we’re at it, I might just add that I’m a worrier. I worry about everything. I even worry about worrying too much.

I have lots of friends who write full time and enjoy it immensely. They work from home, have time to walk the dog and go to the gym. They can stay in their PJs all day while they write (I do that too). I also have friends who work full time or part time and write when they can find time – weekends and late at night. I have a friend who’s given up sleeping so that she can write. She only sleeps 3 to 4 hours each night so she can write and then occasionally she crashes.

Let me tell you about this one friend of mine. She’s a delightful lady, heaps of fun, has written 3 books that are best sellers and they are wonderful books. I know ‘cos I’ve read them. She was complaining that the royalties from the books aren’t paying the bills, not so much complaining as stating a fact.

“You need to have published a lot more books than I have to make a full time living out of writing or be J K Rowling” was what she said to me.

When she was writing full time, she was also blogging regularly. Even when she was looking for a job she was blogging about that experience. Since then she has found a job and has also signed up with her publisher for another six books. Two more trilogies from the series that she’s written so far.

So far she’s been working full time since July of 2008. I haven’t heard even a peep from her. She’s busy working full time, she’s busy being a mum to two teenagers and a wife. She’s mostly also busy writing to fill her book deadlines. She has three books to produce by the end of two years. I’m not sure where she is with that, but by the end of 2009 I’d say she has to have all 3 of the second trilogy done, since she signed the book deal at the beginning of 2008. She has also stopped blogging and I’m not even sure what she’s doing about promoting her books.

She’s a fine example of someone who is a successful writer, going to become an even more successful one, but writing right now does not pay the mortgage and put away tuition money for the kids’ college fund. I should probably drop her a line one of these days and say “hey”. I’d like to know how she’s doing.

So here I am, thinking about friends who work full time and write. Thinking about the lack of time to write, more likely the leisure to write when I please and when the muse strikes me rather than sit down at a particular time and discipline myself to write a fixed number of words each day. Thinking about the time when I go back to work and what I’ll do about the lack of sleep. Is it even possible to cultivate insomnia just so I can have more time to write or will I be a nervous wreck and no good to myself anyway?

All I can say is – for those of you who have the luxury of writing full time, don’t squander it. The time is to be treasured and used productively. And for those of you (us) who don’t have that luxury, hang in there. It may take longer, but the end result will be well worth it.

Thoughts on the topic anyone?

5 deadly screams:

Molly Daniels said...

I went through this dilemma last year when faced with the prospect of a job...did I actually want it? Would it cut into my writing time? How about my promo time?

I left it in God's hands and didn't get the job. Yes, it momentarily stunned me, because I thought I was a shoe-in. But they went with someome with a little less stress in their lives, and I made a deal with my hubby: If I didn't make a profit at the end of the year, I'd start job-hunting.

And lo and behold, I made a small one. And now my first e-book will be out this year. So now we know why I didn't get last year's job...I've been too busy editing to do much of anything! I do my 'Mommy' thing in the mornings and my 'Author' thing in the afternoon...unless you count the blogging and answering email; that I do first thing in the morning:)

Victoria Janssen said...

I have a full-time day job. I manage by cutting out a lot of things--not everything--but a lot of things like watching tv regularly, so I have time to write.

When on deadline, I go home from work every night and write. A thousand words a night really accumulates.

Ashley Ladd said...

I have a day job that also runs into overtime. I don't have the luxury to even think about quitting - probably ever. Although I'm published my royalties aren't enough to quit the day job either.

Lots of days I'm emotionally and physically exhausted by the time I get home. This makes it tough to write a lot of the times. Sometimes I can and sometimes not. Most of my weekends are spent writing - when I'm not taxiing my children to their ball games, etc.

Daz said...

Thank you for your comments. Yes, its definitely harder to find time and energy to write when there's a day job involved.

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