Saturday, June 30, 2012

Random thoughts on quitting the day job


I was washing dishes this morning thinking about about quitting my day job and this post. In my mind, I had lots of fierce and conflicting thoughts co-existing side by side. So much so that I couldn’t put them into a coherent theme.

In some ways, the day-job quitting question is a kind of personal Rorschach ink blot for me, meaning, it reveals more about my mood, my state of mind, and my feelings about life at a given time than anything. Here is my jumble of thoughts:

1. Like so many writers, I dream rather lavishly of quitting my day job. Extensively. Unwholesomely. My dream has me writing a monstrous amount, and never having to stop and switch gears to marketing copy. I know, intellectually, that getting what you want isn’t always a good thing, but I dream of this anyway.

2. I have seen people talk about the figure $5000/month as the day job quitting point. I would happily live on a fraction of that, but I’d worry that it wouldn’t last, and I don’t exactly have a safety net, considering my husband is a writer in the same self-employed boat as me. Even if people were buying my books at that rate, there is no guarantee that would last. I have known even fabulously wealthy people who worry they don’t have enough. I think what is enough money is so subjective. I think this whole consideration is subjective.

3. So in a way, day job quitting is, to me, about security and faith in life. It is a bold thing that I would love to be equal to some day, financially, but also on a larger level. One some level, I think quitting the day job is a gesture of faith in your work that would maybe open doors. It would be a big risk, but I have always admired people who take chances like that. Could quitting the day job lead to more self-sustaining success? Is it me who has to change instead of my finances? I would sure have more time to write. I live really cheaply. But it is SO risky. So I stay working the day job.

4. An opposite thought: There is this ideal in the Chinese martial arts culture where the martial arts master does not accept money for his teaching, because if he relied on his teaching for his income, he might water it down to please the students. So, the tradition, according to my martial arts-loving husband, at least, is that the master owns a little shop or is a woodworker or something. The master has a dayjob. I kind of like this, because I sometimes feel if I quit my day job, I’d have to focus too much on sales and I wouldn’t be free to play and have fun in my work.

5. Reading some of this posts this week about quitting the day job has made me feel lucky with my day job because it is so flexible – I’m a freelance writer, so I write web copy and ads and promo articles and brochures, etc. for businesses and ad agencies, working entirely for myself. And I can do that in part because I’m healthy enough to just buy cheap insurance and only go to the dentist, never a doctor. And I actually do enjoy some of my work, and most of my clients are awesome. It’s deadline work, so I can definitely create a semblance of a writing routine if I manage things right. Often, I write in the day and work on client stuff into the night.

6. If I got tons of money, there are one or two clients I would actually keep because I like them and their jobs are not onerous. So, really, what is all this about quitting? I also learn so much from my job. I talk to all kinds of people and I know something about every kind of business, and these things are useful in fiction. Also, having a job gives me a sense of control and self sufficiency that I enjoy. Yet, I know it erodes my writing time. 

7. Do you watch Castle? The police procedural with a novelist character? I love the show Castle, I love the life they show for him, even though it is fake. I love the day job quitting dream and I will keep dreaming it, and it is still my goal. 


Images: public domain files from wikimedia.

9 comments:

  1. Really excellent wrap-up for the week, Carolyn! I agree with you on so much of this. Including that I want to be Castle and have that condo!

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  2. OMG, that condo! I know. I want his WHOLE life. I would take the daughter, too. Isn't she so sweet?

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  3. Great post, Carolyn - although I have to admit I spent more time looking a the ink blots on the first read through and had to go back and re-read it. It is just me or does that second blot look like a fish party at the Eiffel Tower? And that last one has to be the flag for some tiny new former-Soviet block nation. (Although why the flags are coming out of an upside-down butterfly's butt is beyond me.)

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    1. LOL. Fish Party at the Eiffel Tower. That would be a great name for a band.

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    2. I totally got party at the Eiffel Tower, too - how funny is that?

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    3. All the cool kids and fish are partying at the Eiffel tower! Yeah!

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  4. My day job is in software marketing, my sideline and real passion is photography. Way too often over the last decade I've been out of work, and the last couple of times I had to think hard about what it would take to make photography my business. I concluded that it wasn't likely to happen, and that in the end that was just as well. I shoot what I want and have channels to try to sell it. I'd like to find more channels, but I'm happy not to have to shoot weddings or other high stress events. My photography is still fun, and it makes a little money, and that's enough for now.

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    1. Hank, I can't even imagine how high-stress wedding photography would be. Yes, there is something to be said for keeping it fun and doing it the way you please.

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  5. Love the post. I fantasized about quitting the day job. Then I got laid off. It was one of those 'be careful what you wish for' moments. But I did finish and sell my novel, and now I work part-time in my previous career choice. So, luckily, it all worked out for the best. According to me anyway. The DH has a different view.

    Raven

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