Since I was a teenager, I’ve dreamed of being a full time writer/author. However, dream seemed so unattainable I never really gave it a real chance. Well, in March 2020, whatever cosmic power or coincidence decided to intervene and an “opportunity” fell in my lap. So now, I’m trying to live this dream.
While my saga is still ongoing and I’m nowhere near “successful” yet, I thought I’d begin sharing my journey. This is Part 1. Hopefully it can be inspirational or, at least, a cautionary tale!
As some of you may or may not know, early last year I became one of the pandemic economy casualties, i.e. I lost my job as a Language Process Consultant for a localization (translation) company. I had really tried to make that job mine and enjoy it, so the layoff came as a HUGE blow.
To be honest, I didn’t really want another corporate job. I was 2 for 2 in layoffs for corporations and I just was over it. I hated the culture. I hated the “work, work, work without gratitude” mentality. I hated the lip service they did to “employee morale” or “diversity” or “work-life balance”. I hated all their corporate bullshit.
However, I liked the pay, the healthcare, paid vacation, retirement and my teammates, so I stayed. And I tried to enjoy it. I tried to own my position, contribute meaningfully to the greater good, and take pride in my work. And I got unceremoniously dumped on my ass even still…it was like a bad breakup.
I half-heartedly applied for jobs after that, considering other linguistic or social media paths. Ultimately, I had to admit to myself that I got the most joy by writing – working on my novels, doing articles/blogs, researching topics, & learning about writing. Unsurprisingly by summer, I’d gotten no leads or interviews for corporations, but I did have a freelance writing contract. While the articles weren’t my favorite topics and the pay was shite, I enjoyed it WAY more. Also, working for myself was great.
Soon, I found myself dragging my feet on job applications for corporations. Literally I’d find an excuse to do ANYTHING else (Clean, write, doom scroll on Facebook, watch Master Classes) than write another insincere cover letter for a job whose description I didn’t even thoroughly read.
That’s when I decided I would try to write full time. I had at least 2 novels nearing publication-ready status. I had other writing projects in my head, a half-finished webpage and crappy business cards. But most of all, I had luck and time trapped at home.
Now, when I say “luck” I will admit that it doesn’t work out like this for everyone. I know before the layoff I would say to myself, “I’ll quit my job to write when [James gets a full-time job/I build up enough savings/I can buy a cheaper house/I get bored of the SCA/hell freezes over]”. So my problem started out with never prioritizing what I knew I really wanted. It just made me unhappy.
You see, in my 20s, I thought I knew everything and was on the right path. I even read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho in 2009 and said “someday, this will be me”. For those who haven’t read it, Coelho talks about quitting your dead-end life for a life of adventure/a life of your choosing.
Whether you’re Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure or the author himself wanting to quit his corporate job to write full-time, this book is all about doing what scares you and powering through the hardships until you’re successful.
Yeah it sounds great, right? Until you actually consider reality and the stuff that scares you wins out. You may think, “Well I really can’t stop paying rent so I can’t quit my job. But my job leaves me too tired to work on my dreams in my free time so I just can’t right now.”
That is a very real concern. No one wants to give up the comforts they have or think they have for the unknown. And sometimes it’s not practical. So if you can’t just up and quit right now, that’s okay. However, don’t lose sight of your dreams because when an opportunity does come around, you should be prepared to grab it.
Like me…I definitely dreamed of getting laid off so I could write full time. That doesn’t mean that when it happened I was without concern or fear. When I lost my job, I lost a lot of things that went with it – financial security, healthcare, routine, normalcy.
I went almost a year without healthcare DURING A PANDEMIC. Not the smartest thing ever…But the hurdles at first seemed huge. How was I going to live?
However, the timing worked in my favor. I had severance, unemployment & stimulus money in the bank. My mortgage & student loans were in forbearance. We couldn’t go anywhere including eating out so out spending went WAY down. James was still employed.
This would have given me quite a few months in my current house before I had to worry about where the money would come from…even when mortgage started becoming due again. However, what about after that?
- Could we afford homeownership on James’s salary and w/e I could bring in? (probably Not)
- What if I wasn’t bringing in very much or any money? (then definitely no)
- Would I have to get a shitty part-time job in retail just to make ends meet? (most likely)
- Would I have to get locked into another 50-60 hour/week corporate job and thus to back to my pre-pandemic life? (Likely and it would be a steep learning curve for a company I didn’t give 2 shits about)
These questions weighed heavily on my mind and most of the likely answers (those in parentheses above) I didn’t like. Then there was the biggest, worst question of all:
What if I was taking advantage of my partner financially and not bringing in money equally?
I definitely pondered this question constantly. I’d lose James or I’d lose my dreams. I didn’t know how could I keep both. I really, really want to be published, but I also recognize that it may take a lot of time, work, money and probably more luck. For 2020 though, I’d used all that up, in a manner of speaking, so wasn’t expecting miracles.
This brought me to the hardest decision of the year: Do I find a corporate job or sell my house for money?
The First Big Step
My house…(I’m tearing up just thinking about it). It was the first house I’d ever bought. James had input and helped with the down payment (as did my parents) but most of the work and decisions were on me. This was MY house. James and I had great gatherings there. We had dreams of bettering it. We made memories there. Adopted 2 cats there. Fixed things when they broke. Took care of it. Bought lilacs.
My house, that was just a little too expensive for 1 person’s income when we had other debt as well. My house could no longer fit into my dreams of becoming a writer.
Then we got lucky once again. We had great friends offer us their unfinished basement to renovate and make it ours. They had a big house with a yard for the boys. A pool and hot tub. Good neighborhood. And free rent/utilities etc. if we invested money into the renovation.
So we made the decision to sell. Don’t get me wrong, it still wasn’t easy. Giving up personal space for shared space has both its benefits and its drawbacks. But
- The benefits outweighed the drawbacks
- It gave us a long term plan for me to get my writing career off the ground.
- James could finish school and look into a career change at his own pace as well.
By the end of summer 2020, we had a plan. August-October were lost in fixing up our house, getting the floors done, packing and moving. November started election season & holiday season which was another set of chaos-ness. I worked the polls…not POLES!…which was both enlightening and enjoyable. More on that in a later blog…maybe.
The Next Steps
January 2021 started my writer journey “for reals”. I signed up for the Get Your Words Out 240 Days of Writing Challenge and committed to submitting at least 1 manuscript this year (a personal goal).
Also, I’m not starting from scratch. I already have a few things in the works. In 2020 I started a couple #writinggoals. I used some of my saved funds to hire a developmental editor for Anamnesis who has now become my book coach for that book.
I also finished In Memoriam, put it through a manuscript mentorship workshop, and sent it off to beta readers.
(In full disclosure, I spent $1250 on both of those consultations ($500 developmental edit, $750 manuscript workshop). For the book coaching I’m the practice guinea pig for someone doing a certification course, so I’m not getting charged h/e if I had to pay for this I totally would. It’s been so worth it!)
“New Year, New You” right?
I know I’m kind of crappy at regular blog posts, but I am going to try to update at least once a month (or more often if I feel like it) on what I’ve been up to during my “full time writer life”. What I’m not going to fess up to is all the time spent doom scrolling or shopping for American Girl Doll clothes that I’ll inevitably do on my less-productive days. Because, let’s be honest, even at a corporate job you find excuses to dick off sometimes. 😛
Anyway, here is the “Month in the Life of Full-Time Writer”, January Edition!
A Month in the Life of A Full-Time Writer
I apparently have “project ADD” and too many stories in my head so I jump around from day to day. This helps keep me motivated and is also building up a habit of treating writing like a career.
Here are my current projects:
- Anamnesis – My main project. Book 1 of my cyberpunk series, “The Savant Uprising.” It is undergoing extensive rework w/ a book coach.
- In Memoriam – My other main project in The Savant Uprising, a prequel to Anamnesis. It is the closest to submission.
- Bane of Blood– A working title on my new epic fantasy side project.
- Misc. other writing projects
While Anamnesis and In Memoriam are on a kind of hold (the former needs rework so I’m working on a book blueprint from my coach & the latter was in beta reading stage) I stared this new epic fantasy series. Currently calling it Bane of Blood but that may change.
This story has been rolling around in my head since IDEFK (I don’t even fucking know)….2009? I have no memory of this, but I found 30K words I’d written and they were garbage. So this is a complete rework/rewrite on the whole damn thing.
Since I have no timeline and it’s only a side project, I’m trying to implement stuff I’ve learned from my book coach before word vomiting on the page. AKA…I’m PLOTTING. Not Pantsing. Not Plantsing! So we’ll see how it goes. I also am working on thoroughly worldbuilding so I can have consistency from the beginning.
As January is kind of a chaotic month anyway, to get into habit of writing, I’ve been journaling, blogging and working on Bane of Blood. I try to do a little something every day. So far it’s working well.
I only missed 5 of 31 days this month where I didn’t write/edit at all which I feel is pretty good for the first month (Especially since we are in the thick of a basement renovation also)!
Below, I’ve listed what I’ve gotten done as a “Full time writer” It’s def not as glamorous as the meme in this article makes you think, but it’s actually been really fulfilling!
Writer Work Life
- Journaled 1500 words
- Wrote 11 Whole 30 Blogs (not counting WC as that’s too much effort)
- Wrote 3 blogs on writing.
2) Bane of Blood
- Started & Wrote 16,491 words on the Bane of Blood story
- Wrote 5548 words for front matter/lore (not part of the manuscript)
- Wrote 2 parts of the outline
- Did countless edits & rework as the story kept shifting as I wrote more. However, I think it’s finally in a place where much of the backstory and lore is established which should help with writing the subsequent parts. Unfortunately, I don’t have a page count on edits, but effectively if I wrote it, I edited it LOL.
- UP NEXT: Keep writing on the story
- Wrote 2583 new words on the “new start” of Anamnesis
- Finished parts 1-9 of my Anamnesis rework Blueprint
- Edited some sections for consistency and rewrote a scene for an experimental perspective shift.
- UP NEXT: Ask book coach LOL
4). In Memoriam
- Polish-Edited the 1st 3 chapters to prepare the manuscript for submission
- Implemented beta reader feedback in In Memoriam
- Finished going over feedback from my manuscript mentor
- UP NEXT: Query letter writing
- Edited 4 short stories
- Redesigned my author webpage & my business cards
- Wrote, edited and submitted my first erotica (tee-hee)
6). Income (which is not a lot)
- Wrote 3 paid articles ($15-$40 each)
- Took surveys for money (Total maybe $25)
- Sold stuff online via Poshmark/offer up (~$300-400)
Anyway that was some heavy shit so here is a picture of my cat in a Christmas tie to make you not feel so bad for me.