Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Find a Better Day Job

About halfway into my fiction writing adventure, I read an interview that changed my life. The featured scriptwriter had recently sold his first screenplay, which was made into a blockbuster movie. When the interviewer asked him if he would do anything differently (given the chance), he said, “If I had known it would take ten years to sell a script, I would have found a better day job.”

That hit home with me. At the time I was waiting tables and doing a little freelance writing. I had recently failed to sell a novel even though my agent had told me we had an offer. So I came to the immediate conclusion that I needed a better day job. I needed a job that put my journalism degree and inquisitive mind to work every day in some productive and satisfying capacity. I realized that I how spend every day is important. All we have is the here and now. The future (as glamorous as I envision it) doesn’t exist . . .yet.

So I stopped living for the future—that day when my novel would sell and my life would change. I found a job as a magazine editor, and I accepted, on some level, that magazine writing and editing would be my career and that it would be enough.

But I continued writing novels, and ten years later I have my first book out there getting great reviews. I am so glad I spent the last ten years editing and developing a successful career instead of waiting tables. So for all you aspiring writers (actors, artists, musicians) who are working at jobs you loathe or that don’t mean anything to you while you wait for your big break—find a better day job!

Life is short. Enjoy every day.

4 comments:

Helen Ginger said...

That's good advice. And you are a good example. You chose a day job that contributed to your growth as a writer, as well as took advantage of your expertise.

Thanks for the push.

zhadi said...

Excellent advice! And it resonated with me VERY much as I'm burned out on my day job...which is more hostess/maid than anything else these days...

L.J. Sellers said...

I wish I could get my husband to take this to heart.

Denise Meinstad said...

For me, it's just the opposite. I've had some jobs that paid well, but took so much out of me that I had neither energy nor time for writing. Such is the case with my present job, but I only have two more weeks before my contract expires and I'm counting down the days! I find that the simpler the job, the easier it is for me to leave it behind at the end of the day and clear my head for writing.