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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Ultimatum -or- Hanging Up My Socks

Tuesday was my anniversary. Eight years of marriage and I still love my husband. I think that probably bends a few statistics. :o)

We sat down to talk about the future, as we always do, and he brought up me going back to the work force. I haven't held down a regular, paying job since college several years ago. There were babies at home, charities to volunteer with, and doctor's appointments to keep.

But we're outgrowing (I hope) that phase in our life. Eldest doesn't need five-day a week doctor's visits. Small and Pink is in school. And Baby Boy is walking. In a few years, all three kids will be at school full-time.

Writing has always been my "on the side" job. To this point, DH has been supportive.

Has been.

Past tense.

While we talked, he kept edging up to the suggestion that I go back to work. College isn't getting cheaper. I'm finding fewer side jobs to take in (sewing, babysitting, tutoring). The doctor's appointments are fewer and fewer.

In short, when the baby heads off to school in three years, I'll be out of excuses to stay home.

Writing hasn't paid off.

So, is it time to hang up the socks and start selling my resume to the local Fish and Wildlife division?

Not just yet.

I still have three years to make writing a full-time job that contributes to the family. In the past five I've written several novels, and submitted six short stories. I'm sure we all see the flaw in this equation.

I've been terrified of making the jump into query-land. What if everyone hates it? What if the book sells, and no one buys it? What if everything goes wrong?!?!?!

The truth is, if I don't do something with my next three years, everything will be wrong.

The end result of doing nothing, is the sum of all my worst fears: no book on the shelf, no agent, no readers, no titles, no job.

In a single year I usually finish (or almost finish leaving off the last three chapters) three novels. That's the raw material I need.

I have an excellent writing group with many talented authors, many who are published or are in the progress of negotiating sales. That's the help I need to turn raw material into a shiny novel.

I have 936 days (I take Sunday's off) to turn first draft novels into finished novels into query letters into sales. The cards are on the table. The hang man is waiting. My number is up. And I must write.


  1. A tough spot to be in! Best of luck to you!

  2. Good luck! I'm in the same position. My kiddo goes to school in three years as well and if writing hasn't paid off, it's back to work I go. And my husband would prefer I go back even earlier than that, so I feel like this has to happen SOON or I'm toast.

  3. Perhaps this is exactly what you need then, if you've been too scared to query your novels to this point. Three years is still a pretty fair amount of time to clean your stories up and get 'em sent out for "professional" (aka "agent" or "publisher") feedback.

    I wish you much luck, though I doubt you'll need it. That you have talent is already clear from your blog. ;-)

    Can't wait to hear your good news on progress...

  4. Good for you for not giving up. I know this is a tough place to be in. My kids are 11 & 13 and there's certainly less of a reason for me to be home during the days (nights, another matter entirely--Hubby works weird hours) but at the same time, I swore I would give this my all and I'm trying. I have to stay on this path right now. I'm subbing, I've got an agent, a successful platform, and I'd be crazy to deviate from it. For now.

    Hugs. You and I will both make it, then laugh that we even thought twice about anything different.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  5. Write because you love to write, Liana. The business part will come, or it won't. Don't put yourself down or rush a writing project through because you are hoping to make money. Trust that it will happen.

    Working a day job, even a part time one, is a lot easier and more dependable in the long run. And if you get into the field you love, then you will love it. But it doesn't mean the writing part will come to a complete stop. It will just be one more challenge that you might enjoy.

    Good luck!

  6. Three years is a long time. You'll get there. :)

    If nothing else, a part time job and still writing is a good compromise. It takes the pressure off getting published HAVING to happen and still allows you to be available to do the volunteer stuff and be involved with your kids.

  7. We can do this, Li! You and me together, right? *high five*

    I have absolute faith in you and your stories. Three years is plenty of time. Go read your CC signature again, and WRITE! :P :)

  8. Roni - We'll keep each other company in the mad house.

    Janie - It crossed my mind that this was fortuitous timing. I think I'm finally past my training novels and ready to put my best foot forward.

    Catherine and Jean- Working wouldn't be the end of the world, but since that jobs I'm qualified for would involve a lot of writing (non-fiction) I'm not sure I could balance the fiction writing with it. I couldn't in college. I wrote about 3,000 words a day in newspaper articles and science reports for four years, but I couldn't switch back to fiction.

    My biggest worry is that, if I'm working back in my field, I won't be able to shut down the researcher long enough to make things up. I see people who do it all the time, but I don't know if I'm that talented.

    Ibdiamond - Thank you!

    Inky - I'm writing! I'm writing!

  9. Wow, you sound determined.

    Good luck, man.

  10. Good luck! I'm not sure that it's entirely an ultimatum, though--even once the three years are up, you could always write and work at the same time. Either way, whatever happens--good luck!

  11. Time to make it happen, sounds like. Hubby may have done you a huge favor in disguise.

    Have you given any freelance sites a stab? There are some good places like Elance.com and freelancewriter.com where you can earn some cash for writing. Some of the projects are cake and pay decently.

    Could be a good compromise in that it would produce income while still honing your writing skills.

    Let me know when you need a good kick in the pants. I've gotten plenty and I'd be happy to share the wealth : )

  12. Honey-pie, (That's what we say in the South when someone we really like is getting ready to hear some tough-love):

    You need to start querying those books. You don't know how close you are to the brass ring until you know if you're at the personal rejection, requests for pages or the dreary form reject stage. You have a lot of time -- three years is an eternity! -- so send something out. Figure out where you are in the Land of Prepublishing. And grab that brass ring.
    Remember: 100% of shots not taken, don't score.

  13. Stephanie and Beth - Thank you. :o)

    Wulf - Ah... no pants kicking just yet. I'll need it come January. Let me get Twisted Metal done and then you may pursue me with red hot pokers.

    Amy - Honey-pie, Bless Your Heart, I'll Pray For You... Oh, yes, I know all those southern terms. I know for sure I'm not ready to query just yet. I need to polish something before I query. But I think DH is trying to get me out of my comfort zone and back into the thick of things.