Like the majority of writers out there, I don't make *quite* enough money yet from my craft to make ends meet. (Insert good-natured yet cynical laughter here; the asterisks above are an indicator of sarcasm, friends). Hopefully that'll change one day, but right now I'm stuck having to work two jobs: the one that pays my rent, gas bill, phone bill, and other expenses... and the other, which offers payment on a much more emotionally rewarding scale: when I'm writing, I'm being paid in the totality of imagination. It's my escape, my voice, my therapist, my joy, my secret, my everything.
It's difficult to work a full-time "real world" job and then turn around and be creative. I don't produce as much as I'd like to; there are days when I can't even shift my brain into productive mode, and am lucky if I can do something as creative as cooking a simple dinner. Forget writing, forget tapping into the elemental ribbon of universal truth: I'm tired, dammit, and I want an ice cream sammich. I'm able to push myself into creative movement more and more often; after all, I understand that talent is a muscle and you must exercise it for your endeavors to grow. You must grind to shine, in other words. But that's easier said than done, more often than not.
The "real world" job I have right now involves sales, lots of sales. But it really is kind of a fun job. I have an old journal, one I left behind when I was unceremoniously booted from the poisonously safe refuge of Corporate America, cast out to drift in the vast gray sea of the lower middle class and the service industry which it so warmly embraces. I read a few entries from that journal earlier today, and now I'm filled with one of my favorite emotions, gratitude.
Gratitude and luck... I feel so very lucky to have lost my 40k a year job, and to be leading a totally different life from what I had two years ago. (Now, I bet you're wondering... is there more sarcasm in that remark? Ah, gentle reader, there were no asterisks around that statement, were there?) Yeah, it's tough. My job pays very little (a bit more than a third of what I was making in C.A., I just got my W2 for last year and it was quite the eye-opener), and I've had to implement a rigid budget to make sure bills get paid on time. And they still don't all get paid on time. Money is ridiculously tight, so much so that I applied for state benefits (EBT/food stamps), and was approved the same day I filed my paperwork. I'm not lamenting that, though. It just adds to the gratitude.
And I have another trade-off... I'm not under the backbreaking weight of constant pressure that builds and builds and builds when you're working in a cubicle farm. I'm not tied to a desk, don't have to be in the office at any specific time, and can leave to go out in the sunshine whenever I want to, provided I complete the work I have to do in the time I'm allotted. I was reading back over all those posts from when I worked in a huge office, and over and over I kept saying, "I hate it here. I hate being here. I wanna be out in the sunshine. I wanna be in a place I can have fun." More than that, the constant emotional punishment of living and working a hefty salary white-collar job ate away at my drive to write. "It's all right," I'd say to myself, "I work so hard, and I'm making good money... I'm too tired to write. I don't have time right now. I'll write later."
Well... it's later, kids.
Now I have what I need... money's tight, true. It's hard to spread myself between two ventures, yes. But I'm on the right path (the write path? heh). I'm grateful, so grateful I've been given this chance to honor the Muse. I'm so glad I've been laid low financially. "Prosperity breeds forgetfulness." Sadly, it's the truth. Right now everything makes me grateful, because times are so hard. And because of that, there's a lot of light and love in my life right now.
And hope. Never forget hope.