I spent twenty consecutive years in school, earning three degrees in the process, including a Ph.D. in medieval history. Then my graduate fellowship ran out, and I had to join the ranks of the gainfully employed. Since that time, 1985, I have had a full-time job and a part-time job of some sort, occasionally two of the latter. During all those years, I often wondered -- wistfully -- what it would be like to be a full-time (or even almost full-time) writer.
Back in December, nine days before Christmas, I was laid off from a full-time job I loved. Merry Christmas to me, I thought. Now you get to see what it's like, at least for a while, to be an almost full-time writer (I still had the part-time job).
Luckily for me and my bank balance, my part-time job expanded a bit to include more hours, but it still left me with four days a week to write. In the exactly four months since I was laid off, you'd think I could have written a couple of books at least.
Short answer -- I didn't. I did manage to finish one that was already overdue, but I discovered something interesting about myself and my work habits. For nearly twenty-nine years I was used to writing around my job schedules. What that meant, in practical terms, was that I did most of my writing (the actual sitting at the computer part) on Sundays. That was usually my only day off. When suddenly I found myself with three extra days a week in which to write, what did I do? Nothing. The loss of that structure after nearly three decades threw me for the proverbial loop.
A more self-disciplined person would of course hopped write on that extra few days and been incredibly productive. But not me. Suddenly manana became my favorite word. "Oh, I'll have time for that tomorrow."
Unfortunately for me, tomorrow never seemed to show up when it should -- despite what that redheaded moppet sings about tomorrow being only a day away. If I could make it on writing income alone, I'd probably get myself sorted out and onto some kind of schedule. But I'm not to that point yet. I still need a full-time job, and I keep scouring the Internet on a daily basis looking for jobs that will be a good fit for my sklls and experience as a librarian.
I'm doing fine -- I'm not yet to the point where I'm fighting my two cats over the contents of their food bowls, not that I think it will come to that. Overall, this experience is teaching me some much-needed lessons about life. The issue is whether I will heed them promptly enough.
This is not to be interpreted as an appeal for sympathy for my plight -- think of it more as an object lesson. If you wish for something in a big way, be sure you're prepared for what happens when you get your wish. Right now I have a book to start, and the opening line is whispering itself in my head...