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At a Crossroads

I just got word that as of March 1, I’m out of a day job… again. It’s interesting. I think of myself as being very integrated, with my subconscious mind and my conscious mind pulling together like two horses in harness. If I run into a writing challenge, I just go to bed and noodle over the story while I fall asleep. In the morning I wake up with a solution.

In this case, I think my subconscious knew something the conscious side didn’t. I’ve been beefing up my LinkedIn profile for no reason that I could see. I’ve also been talking to old colleagues out of the blue. I’ve been networking so much, in fact, that while my current boss was telling me on the phone how sorry he was that he has to cut me loose, I was sending instant messages to friends who might have jobs for me.

So my subconscious mind has done a great job of making the transition easy. My conscious mind, however, hung up the phone and burst into tears. This is the third time I’ve been laid off in three years. The thing I do is considered icing, not cake, and when venture capital dries up… companies cut the icing first.

Here’s what this has to do with writing: I’ve been a freelance writer and editor as a side job for ten years, and I do those things full time in between “real jobs.” (Real job being defined as one with health insurance and some nice accountant somewhere taking out taxes and making Social Security payments.) And this week marked the first tentative steps towards success with fiction – a rejection with feedback, and an offer to submit directly to an editor, bypassing the dreaded slush pile.

I have a friend, who (unlike me) believes in signs and portents. She thinks I keep losing “real jobs” because the universe wants me to focus on my fiction. I’m not sure I’m willing to go that far, and I’m darn sure that while I will no doubt sell something in 2010, it won’t be enough to make up my lost income. But for the first time in the history of my friendship with this lady, I desperately want to believe in signs. And isn’t that a sign of its own?

I’ve got some thinking to do. Feedback is welcome.

Categories: Thinking
  1. waitingforthecall
    January 23, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    That’s a tough one. Great that your subconscious prepared you, but it doesn’t take the hurt away. I’m still grieving the job I lost over a year ago, when our whole office was made redundant. I saw it coming months before, but it was a great job with people I cared for, and it’s tough to lose the choice of staying or going.

    I believe in signs and portents, like your friend. This sounds as if it could be one. The sensible me says maybe another sign would be having enough money to live on comfortably for six to nine months,before making the decision to go full time! Though if you already know you can make enough from the freelance writing to get by, is there a good reason not to go for it?

    There’s also the half-way house of looking for part-time work and part-time writing. My expwrience with that one is that part-time jobs have a strange habit of eating up nearly as much writing time as full-time jobs, unless one is extremely disciplined. I can imagine if I was relying on writing for my sole income, I’d be a lot more motivated to get out of bed early and traet writing like a job and not a hobby!

    The real question is- how do you feel when you think about giving full-time writing a try? Your perceptive sub-conscious will tell you the truth.

    Or if this is such a biggie you are blocking that, try my never fail method. Let your future be decided by a coin toss.

    Heads is full time writing, tails is a “proper job”. If your reponse to what comes up when you toss that coin is “Yessssss!”, you know what you really want. If your response is “Uh, can we try best of three?”, again, you know exactly what you want.

    Whatever you choose, good luck with your writing. A positive rejection is a great sign!

  2. QuinnT
    January 23, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    A year ago, we decided to write full time. It didn’t take long to learn that 2 years can easily pass between submitting a full and publication. Never mind getting to the full submission. I think we’ve made a good start, but not good enough that we can afford to continue full time.

    After a full submission last May that may have disappeared into the ether, we resubmitted that plus a second in November. Maybe we’ll try writing for another line in the meantime. But guaranteeing benefits is driving us at the moment.

  3. January 25, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    @ Waiting: I use that coin method all the time. So what’s it mean that I’m scared to try it now? Strike that, I know why 😉

    @ Quinn: I think things are hardest for people like us, with the early harbingers of success, but not enough actual success to keep dog kibble in the dish. Last night we took my kid to the ER, and I sat there thinking… if we were dependent on my writing, this chest xray/IV fluid/heart monitor thing would have just bankrupted us. And yet success (paying the bills through writing) seems so CLOSE. I know rationally it’s still some years off, but… argh. I hope you find benefits soon.

  1. February 5, 2010 at 8:53 AM

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