Though I’ve only made passing mentions of it up until now, like most writers I have a day job. A full-time day job that mostly involves sitting at a desk and not doing anything writer-ly. Some writers teach creative writing or freelance. This job is not that.
Another reason I haven’t gone into detail about my job: Because of where I work, I can’t talk about my job online or on social media. I realize that makes it sound like I’m a spy or a secret agent, but that’s not the case. My day job is totally and completely mundane.
Once again, I’m not a spy.
Many writers would probably wither after eight solid hours spent under fluorescent lighting, confined to a cubicle. But I love my day job. I rarely find it stressful and never find it soul-sucking due to several key factors, which I’ll list below.
1) It gets me out of the house and forces me to function. If I ever become a full-time writer, I might be able to adhere to a schedule. Maybe. The truth is, I don’t really know. For now, it doesn’t matter because family and work set a schedule for me that’s not really optional.
2) Kickass coworkers. This is key. My coworkers are all very nice people and some of them are downright hilarious. Some of them draw NSFW cartoons and distribute them via text message so their fellow coworkers can snicker in their cubicles. Some of them are fellow writers. They make coming to work fun instead of tedious.
3) My hobby-jobby is one kind of cheese, my day job is another. Though cool coworkers are key, this is by far the most important one.
I know many people who want/need their jobs to fill a void for them. They look to their careers to give them purpose, to give their lives meaning, to make them feel like they’re contributing something important to the world. They want to be fulfilled by work.
That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But let’s be realistic. Though some folks will find jobs that do just that, most people who hang onto this ideal are clinging to things their high school guidance counselor told them. The VAST majority of day jobs are not going to do this for you, especially not all the time. And yet, so many people I know end up dissatisfied because they keep looking for a day job that is the-thing-they-really-want-to-do.
My day job doesn’t have to fill a void or give my life meaning or allow me to flex my creative muscles because writing and family do that for me. I’m not saying that I don’t ever find my job fulfilling (because, for the record, I frequently do). The point is it doesn’t matter. I’m not looking for that kind of thing from my day job because, regardless of what kind of day I have at work, I can come home and cuddle with my kiddo and/or do some writing and feel like I’ve accomplished something.
My day job simply has to be a thing I don’t hate, a thing that doesn’t make me feel like I’m doing harm to the world, and, most importantly, a thing that gives me money. And the fact that I get paid well by my day job keeps writing fun and relatively stress-free. I work hard to improve my craft, and I worked hard to get an agent, and I would love, love, LOVE to publish a novel. But if it doesn’t happen, if I never get paid for my writing, I will survive. My worker-bee day job takes care of one thing and my writing takes care of another. Truly, they’re an ideal pair.
As a bonus, my day job sometimes pays for me to travel to conferences and such. Having to sit on a plane for four to six hours actually gives me time to write and traveling for work means I get to see cities I wouldn’t normally think about visiting. Just this past week, I was in Dallas, TX. I got some writing done and I did some other fun things. To celebrate the wonders of my day job, here’s my Dallas top five.
5) Reunion Tower. Some cities have a space needle that looks like a flying saucer impaled on a stick. Dallas has a tower that looks like a Tootsie Pop, except the candy part is a giant spiky ball covered in lights. Sometimes the lights are white, and sometimes they are flashy, dancing holiday colors. The day I left, they were red, white, and blue (Texas flag, yo) and spelled out a gigantic T. Aside from Stetsons and spurs, I can’t think of anything more Texas.
4) The Grassy Knoll. It blows my mind that a completely nondescript slope of lawn can become a national landmark. Unfortunately I didn’t make to the Sixth Floor Museum, though I’ve heard it’s amazing. Next time.
3) The brisket enchiladas I had at Meso Maya. Seriously, they were just stupid good.
2) The avocado margarita I had at Meso Maya. Yeah, you read that right. Av-o-ca-do mar-ga-ri-ta. With a salt and hot sauce rim. Also stupid good.
1) Catching up with a friend I haven’t seen in years. Sometimes hanging out with someone you haven’t seen in years feels forced and strained and full of awkward pauses. This was not that at all. This friend happens to be one of those people you can hit pause on and press play again years later and it’s like you never left each other. Catching up with her was pure joy, especially since we were catching up over brisket enchiladas and avocado margaritas.
If you’re a fellow writer, let me know how you feel about your day job or lack thereof.