The Day Job

“Don’t quit your day job!” the jerk says as if imparting some kind of folksy wisdom that the artist would never figure out on their own.

The artist offers a weak laugh in response.  Maybe trades finger guns with the person offering the unsolicited employment advice.  Pew!  Pew!

If no one offers me that advice again, I’d be okay with it.  But if they did suggest I keep my current job and I ignored their words, what job is it that I’d be leaving?  And what would that be like?

I’m a programmer working in the solar industry.  I usually work a little bit more than 40 hours a week, a lot of those extra hours taking place at home.  It’s a good job, even if it keeps me busy, and it pays well.

I don’t want to get too much into the details of my job, other than to talk about the ways it impacts my writing.  This whole blog is about my writing journey and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.  I’m not going to go deep into inverter controls and communication protocols.  That’s not what you’re here for.

The writer benefits to having my job is that it supports my writing life both financially and emotionally.  I have enough vacation time that I’m able to go to all the events I want to throughout the year.  I’m able to afford the plane tickets and the hotel room and all of the sundry costs that go with spending a week or a weekend at an event.  Even when the event is in New York.

In addition to the financial stability, the people at work understand that I’m a writer and they work with my schedule.  Earlier this year when I found out I could go to LTUE in the last minute, I called my boss and he not only gave me the green light, he encouraged me to go.  I have several coworkers that ask about my writing process and when they’ll get to see one of my books published.  Throughout November, people give me space during my lunch hour when I’m trying to write and keep my word count up.  I work in a very writer friendly environment.

One of the downsides of having my job as a writer is the work itself.  The programming eats up some of my creative energy and mental fortitude.  By the time I get home a lot of nights, I don’t have the willpower or drive to create fiction.  That can be really rough.

I like being a programmer.  Even if I managed to sell books well enough to sustain myself, I’d still want to be a programmer in some capacity.  Maybe I’d get back into Unity and develop a game or two.  Maybe I’d work on some web apps.  I’m not sure.  I’m always going to be a programmer of some variety.

If I did manage to quit the day job, I’d probably take on the same kind of schedule a lot of professional authors seem to adopt.  I’d write for 3 to 4 hours in the morning, then spend the afternoon attending the business side of writing.  I don’t think I’d have a problem working from home and maintaining productivity.  I work from home already, and those are my best work days.

Tying back to how I began this post, I would like to quit my day job.  Getting to do that would be a privilege.

So when someone tells me NOT to quit my day job, what they’re really saying is that I shouldn’t try and achieve one of my dreams yet.  That’s kind of a shitty thing to say to a person, isn’t it?