Monday, August 17, 2015

The Writer’s Lease

Last week, I started my new job as a writer. By this, I mean that I get to sit at home and play pretend. I can make up anything that I want. I talk to myself to hear if written conversations sounds real. I get to flesh out stories that have been lingering for more than a decade. I get to work my dream job. But how did this happen? What does it mean to turn a dream into a reality? This blog is meant to be a writer’s journal. Because I can’t post what I am working on, I will mostly be talking about the writing process. My hope is that people can follow me from being an unpublished writer to an author.
When my wife, Leigha agreed to let me pursue a career as a writer, it came with several stipulations. First,


I had a year to prove that I could make money with my writing.  As I said above, I have never had anything published. Back in 2004, I tried getting one of my stories published without any luck.  At that time, submissions were sent through mail and became costly to send a pile of papers in large manila envelopes. I sent a story out to a dozen different places for publication and got a dozen denials. Or at least that is what I thought at the time. As was looking through my writing box, I came across all the denial letters and noticed that two of them requested that I send in more work. My twenty-four year old self only saw the stack of denials and gave up. In the last ten years, my skin has had time to toughen up and not take things so personal.
The second agreement was that if I was going to stay home all day, then there was no need for us to pay for after-school costs. Essentially, my writing day is over when school is over. After that, my job is solely as a Dad. I think that this is good for me for several reasons. First, I get to spend more time with my kids. With the more activities that my kids were involved with, it was becoming more stressful to get everything in before bedtime. There were nights where we rushed from one thing to the next. Pick up kids. Come home and make dinner. Help them with their homework. Take them to football/basketball/soccer/gymnastics. Come home and get ready for bed. I can still do all of these things, only I will have at least three more hours to do so. This shortened amount of time to write will force me to become a little more focused on my writing. As most people can attest, a deadline is a great motivator.
The third agreement was that I had to bring in some money. While it was understood that nobody is an immediate success with writing. First you have to actually write that thing that you are writing. For months, we have built a nest egg that would let us pay off all of our bills for several months if, worst case scenario, neither one of us are working. This is meant as a buffer for my sudden lack if any guaranteed money. However, the longer that we are able to maintain the nest egg, the better. So I am heading back to the Plasma Center. Although their payment amounts vary month-to-month, I will be able to make a minimum of $200 a month with plasma. Secondly, I will be watching my daughter’s best friend after school as well. While doing these two things are certainly not enough money to make a living, they afford me time to write what I want to write. To focus on my stories and not to get paid as a freelance writer to write other people’s stories. I am not above writing for others and may have to rely on that in the future.