This season, I had the privilege of donning my ballet shoes to dance with the liturgical lyrical ballet group, Solum Deum, under the direction of my friend and gifted choreographer, Tess Dempsey (two named “Tess” in one group, imagine that!). It became an interesting contrast in my mind when, in one of the dances, we represented holy angels. Considering that one of the three novels I am currently working on has to do with the Nephilim, descendants of the fallen angels, and because of that research and the fact that, often, I have to dive into dark subject matter, the elements of this dance were refreshing. A refreshing experience on many levels! I continue looking upward and forward.
There is a natural order in the societal ring of life, even when it comes to purpose. When a person can rid themselves of a prideful heart and venture forward with a humble spirit, the journey becomes a little less arduous and a little more joyful. In my craft, I am better than a few others. Many more are better than me. Yet I shouldn’t fret about this pecking order, for my Creator said, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart….." (Jeremiah 1:5). In essence, he chose me for a particular task and to fulfill a specific role while on this earth. The Almighty knows what he’s doing. Yet at times, it’s also my human nature to be touched in varying degrees with inferiority or the idea that I’m not measuring up. If we put forth all our effort then leave the rest to Providence, he will fill us up the rest of the way thus enabling us to do exactly what we’re supposed to do. For me, while reaching out from a purpose-driven existence, I find in this thought process the ability to let go, relax about what everybody else is doing and be free to just be.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for many. One of the things that annoy writers the most is the assumption that writing as a day job, that is, working from home, makes us flexible to rearrange our schedules and disrupt routines to accommodate something extracurricular without delay. I’m asked a lot if I can attend, participate, or volunteer in something during the day, since I’m available because, you know, I’m “a writer and don’t have a day job like others.” Wait—huh?
There is a general outlook about writers that says, “You can do whatever you want…you have a cushy job with blurred lines regarding responsibility.” Truth is, writing is demanding, competitive work and takes an enormous amount of discipline. If a writer is going to earn an achievement and/or an income, he/she has to vie for positions, set goals, and meet deadlines. You have to diligently engage productivity. That’s the way life works. If a person is a freelancer and deals directly with clients, livelihood and growing success depends on this structure. Just like in any other industry.
More than once, I’ve heard, “You’re so lucky. You can set your own hours, shop, clean the house, whatever, and write whenever you want to.” What my cynical thoughts insert when such a thing is said about my daily practice: What about eating bonbons? And if it’s not my thoughts, then it’s my husband’s incessant teasing. I’ll say, “How was your day dousing government fires, babe?” and he’ll reply, “Good. How were the bonbons?”
Here’s how it really is. I am lucky to write – because I love it. Stories and I go way back. It’s what I’m meant to do. Working hard will not guarantee a writer’s success. But a writer will never be successful if he/she doesn’t work hard. You have to network and build your support base. It’s akin to running your own company (that’s right, long hours and commitment). Also, funny thing, the more one works the more work one gets. See how increasingly busy that makes a person?
I spend my days working…not on a hobby, but a profession…my vocation just happens to be writing. If I do make an exception and leave for some event (for me, it might likely be an extra dance rehearsal) or to pick up groceries, there is a price. It means that I have to make up that missed work by writing into the night. Sometimes I’m required to do that anyway. For us day writers it’s called “overtime,” only, the pay doesn’t double and it disrupts family life and sleep. I arise early and am a daytime writer. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like my sleep. And because I’m human, I kind of need it. So, if I’m out and about during the morning or afternoon it’s not without sacrifice and penance – both from me and my family. I must make up for that missed time. Well hey, what do you know, that’s just like a real job! Maybe I’m a real person, too. And no, I don’t wear PJ’s while I’m at the computer (not that there’s anything wrong with that).